Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Cruelty of Lost Memory


My Grandma and Grandpa Pogue's farm in Indiana. I can tell from the silo that this photo was likely taken in the early 1980s. I think the farm was sold out of the family sometime after 1984. It was a playground for me, albeit a somewhat dangerous one. I remember sliding down one of the roofs of the buildings, lol.

I remember many things from childhood, some good, some bad, but some of my fondest memories come from visiting my grandparents' houses. Grandparents usually spoil their grandchildren. Grandma and Grandpa's house was a place of good food, candy, and gifts, and relatively free of responsibilities and chores. I have plenty of happy memories from my childhood homes, but I also remember being disciplined and having to do homework and wash dishes. Grandma and Grandpa's house was more fun. I have particularly fond memories from my Grandma and Grandpa Pogue's farm.

I spent quite a bit of time on the farm over a couple of years after my parents divorced. It had open fields, cows, pigs, dogs, and woods. There was a perennial creek along one side. The property around the house exemplified American self-reliance. There were enormous stacks of firewood, apple trees, pear trees, a gigantic vegetable garden with a strawberry patch on one end, rhubarb, a gooseberry bush, a grape arbor, and probably other food plants I've forgotten about. My grandmother's shelves were stocked with rows of canned foods for winter and they had a deep freeze in the mud room full of butchered beef and pork that my grandpa had raised himself. I remember many good things about my days on the farm.

Me on my Uncle Dick's combine harvester around 1982, not certain of the year. He was harvesting on Grandpa's farm because Grandpa's harvester had broken down. This is one of my good memories that continues to fade.

The problem is that the human brain can't store all of the details of memory. It is designed by nature/God/evolution to only store relevant, practical info. We retain important things long term, including some happy memories, but mostly lessons, skills, and recent things. The brain is specifically designed to forget things that are not useful, because they would take up too much room. In order to remember them, we would have to walk around with heads the size of a house. Unfortunately those memories sacrificed include happy days spent playing, or a particular morning baking cinnamon rolls in my grandma's kitchen.

From a biological standpoint, I understand the necessity of purging details from memory. It keeps us moving forward and adapted to react in the moment. I assure you, there are many things I would like to forget, but we also possess the ability to reminisce about the good times, and it's frustrating to not remember everything. Nature deprives us of our memories.

It's cruel.

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