This is a Midlife Boulevard bloghop. Take a look at the posts shared by the Women of Midlife, which you’ll find at the end of this post. This anchor post from Sharon Greenthal explores how stories connect the women in her family.
Mothers and Daughters
Every so often my mother will call me to tell me about something really cute I did when I was a little girl.
“You told the entire story of Mary Poppins at the Passover seder when you were three,” she recalls.
I know I did. She’s told me this, no kidding, hundreds of times. And I bet I was really cute. Who can resist a three year old singing Supercalifragilisticexpealidotious?
My mother is my memory keeper.
How she remembers so much is hard for me to understand. I know I’ve forgotten far more about my children’s lives than I remember, which makes me sad. Somehow my mother has held on to memories that I only know because she tells me about them. Sometimes I confuse my actual memories with the stories she’s told me, over and over. I like to hear those stories. I like knowing that she holds on to those moments for me.
I do the same thing with my daughter. I’ll dredge up some episode from her childhood, usually to her delight.
“Remember how, when you were four, you would put on entire musical productions in the backyard for your stuffed animals?” I’ll ask her. Since her memory is nearly as good as my mother’s, she often does remember things, which surprises me. My son, on the other hand, remembers nothing. It’s as if his life didn’t begin until he discovered sports, sometime around kindergarten.
Memories are a powerful and constant part of who the women are and have been in my family. The matriarchal line is strong and filled with conversation. We are not a family of doers – we don’t go skiing or sailing or putter around in our gardens together.
Mostly what we do is talk.
We’ll sit around, laughing and remembering, sometimes growing weary of the same old words, but always glad to be sharing them. My grandmother was a champion talker. Her stories were epic and never-ending, and so tales of my great-grandmother are as vivid to me as the memories of my daughter’s first day of pre-school. I know the names of my mother’s high school friends (Carol, Linda, Nancy, Carol, Carol…) almost better than my own. My children know the names of the streets I grew up on. We tell the same stories, over and over, and it keeps us connected to our past, even as we move swiftly and constantly into the future.
My mother and I never really stop talking. Our conversations – sometimes daily, sometimes weekly – are rarely brief and always in-depth. We talk about the past, we talk about the present, but we don’t talk much about the future. There’s so much to consider right now, it just isn’t important for us to speculate on what’s coming next.
When my daughter was born, it wasn’t 15 minutes before I picked up the phone to call her. Fifteen minutes!
“Katie’s here,” was all I said.
That moment I remember very well.