Day 3 – What Is The Earliest Memory You Have?

note: this is part of #bloganuary where each day in the month of January, there is a prompt that we can write on.

I am going to be interested in reading what others have to say on this and I would love some feedback from all of you as well.

I write this in honor of my dad, who left us, and all possible memories since his death way too soon.

I am not sure what my earliest memory is. I will be celebrating my 56th year of life in May.

feel free to put that in your calendar and send me a gift, I like bourbon FYI

As the years go on, more and more seems to get distorted. The timing of memories is one of those things. For my 50th birthday, Dawn put together a memory book, in it were photos from years ago that she gathered with the help of my mom. One of those photos is above. That’s right, that is me (on the right) and my brother not doing a very good job of hiding. Some of these photos jogged my brain and took me back in time. Some are pictures of me captured in a moment that I do not recall. Like the one above. I would not have remembered many of them had it not been for those photos.

My childhood was complicated with incidences of being bullied, mentally tormented, and teased once I hit school age. The body has a way of protecting itself. Blocking out harmful events from the brains memory banks is one of those powerful tools. It seems that not only does it block memories that are harmful, it blocks out entire spans of time. Because of that, I do not have any vivid memories until I was in what I think was pre-school or perhaps kindergarten.

Even though I do not have a clear timeline of early memories that I can call up to share with you, I do have some fantastic memories that I do remember from early in my life. Some of which are going to create tears. Sorry Dawn and Mom.

One of my earliest memories, I think, is following behind my dad as he mowed the lawn. I had a toy lawn mower and I can see, even now, my dad in front of me, doing his work, and making sure that I was doing my “work” too.

My brother and I were born almost exactly three years apart. I do not remember him being born or any of the events surrounding his birth. I hear from others that have a similar age gap and they remember their younger sibling coming home from the hospital. Perhaps it was the era, perhaps it was just something that I have buried deep in my memory.

We grew up in a schoolhouse that was built in 1885. Up in the attic there was some old stuff and I can remember going up there and just looking around. Our house sat across the street from a farm. In fact, the farmer’s wife was a teacher years earlier when my home operated as a school. Growing up in the country, my brother and I were left to make our own fun, or our own mischief, depending on the day. We did not have much and my dad had worked out an agreement with the farmer that if we helped with some of the chores on the farm, we could receive a discount on the the beef and lamb. What this really meant was that dad intended for my brother and I to work the farm in order to “learn valuable lessons”. HAHA

Because of that, the farm was just an extension of our home and my brother and I would often wander over there and play. There was a hay slide that traveled from the hay loft above to the stalls below. Over the 100 plus years, and I am figuring thousands of hay bales being shucked down, it been smoothed out and shined to a glassy finish. My brother and I would spend hours trying to walk up the slippery wood surface just so that we could turn right back around and slide down. With it being right across the street, the only rule was that we had to be home for lunch. Remember, no phones, no texts. Instead, we had a big school bell in the front yard that could be heard for quite a distance. When it was time for lunch, Mom would ring the bell and we would head home. After lunch, if we were bored with the slide, we would climb the big maple tree in the front yard across the street or perhaps the giant pine tree in our yard and challenge each other to hang drop.

One specific memory I have, and I know we were pretty young, is that my brother and I challenged each other to go out and get the paper for Mom and Dad. It would have been a weekend, probably a Sunday morning, as Dad typically did not work on that day. This was not a simple challenge. It was winter and there was at least a foot of snow. To make this more fun, we had to stay in our pajamas and the paper box was across the street. We made it to the paper box successfully but a car was coming and for some reason we had to hide from the car. I think we were pretending to be on a secret mission. So in our pj’s, in a ditch, in a foot or more of snow, we had to crouch down behind the wind row of plowed snow on the side of the road. I am not even sure that we had shoes on but I remember he and I running back in the house to successfully deliver the paper to Mom and Dad, still in bed. I am not sure that they were thrilled with our challenge.

I remember going to the grocery store with Mom, Country Counter it was called. A small store just down the street from us. At that time, they had free coffee for shoppers and it was my job each time we went to the store, to get Mom her coffee. She drinks coffee black so it was pretty simple. I can still envision the counter where the coffee was.

On rainy days, there were no video games and I am not sure that Mom would have let that go on for too long anyway. And TV, we had 3 channels that came in when the rabbit ear antennas were aimed just right. Instead, I can remember moving the furniture to make forts or my brother and I would set up feet of hot wheels track up and down the furniture.

My dad usually worked long hours and I remember Mom always having dinner ready and us kids helping set the table. We always ate as a family regardless of what time we sat down to eat.

I do have early memories, however, my brain is a bit scrambled. From years of memories, from suppressed memories, from blocks of missing time. I do not know when these events took place, only that they did. I do not know how old I was. I’m not sure that matters.

I suppose that we have a choice with memories. If you are especially critical or a person who focuses on the bad of each situation, you will find the bad in everything. I know that I do, or did, with my personal experiences. Assuming that is true, would not the opposite also be true? That we can find the positive in almost anything. My memories, just like yours, are our interpretation of what we remember. If we choose to remember the bad, for whatever reason, that will shape not only that memory but could influence our ability to look at each memory as an individual event instead of a much larger body of work that it may not belong to. I am spit-balling here but it seems to make sense.

I do know this, despite some of the memories that I have long forgotten or suppressed. Despite the early trauma that bullying had on my mental development, I had a fantastic childhood. A childhood filled with imagination, made up fun, a simplicity that even when Dawn and I were raising our three kids who are now in or near their 30’s, just does not exist. Memories that instilled the values that I have today, that Dawn and I have passed on to our kids. And that they can pass to theirs. Memories that will last and help solidify our family legacy for generations.

tommy t

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