My Dad’s a Goldfish – whose memory?

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Whose memory?

You watch as I slather honey
on toast already oozing butter.
Eyes gleam with anticipation,
widen in delight at first bite.
You would have spread
both less thick, enjoy my generosity.

‘I used to keep bees,’ you say.
I nod, recall my Islay childhood
of honey combs dripping sticky amber
liquid gold, taste of honeysuckle,
heather. Your beeswax discs
slippery smooth won prizes.

You’re confused. How do I know these things?
And I understand this morning
I am not your daughter. I am
some random woman who gives you
toast and honey and tries
to claim your memories as hers.
Mary Smith

 

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34 thoughts on “My Dad’s a Goldfish – whose memory?

  1. It’s as if for him, presumably because of what’s happened/happening in the brain, the link or links (I imagine them like little chains or strings) which connect him with you, have been severed. So although of course you are still his daughter, and you know that (but may not feel it of course) the pathway which enabled him to recognise that has been ‘cut’. I wonder how you visualise what’s happened. Very sad. Reminds me of other conditions in which a ‘pathway’ is not there or damaged. Very interesting research is being done these days on plasticity in the brain and also how other pathways can possibly develop to replace damaged ones – oh that that will lead to some ‘cure’ or betterment in the future, but alas, not in time for your Dad Mary.
    Interestingly, I recall a diagram of a neurological condition in which there was brain deterioration, and the diagram looked like a honeycomb with some of the sections incomplete or missing. Sad that in your Dad’s case, his honeycombs used to be so refined as to be prizewinners.

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    • Thanks for your comments, Janette. I imagine the links as narrow pathways which develop deep crevasses and potholes which block the way. Sometimes, in the earlier stages, when recognition came and went, dad must have been able to jump over them. We were incredibly fortunate that even when the recognition of our relationship had gone dad seemed quite happy for us to be around. We didn’t experience the suspicion and hostility some people face apart from an interlude, mercifully brief, when he became suspicious of the DH’s motives in helping him.

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  2. One of the best feelings I get when I return to your blog, are those incredible photos you have in your header. Your Dad looked like a hero, one of those guys kids admire and hope one day to be like ~ and this feeling puts into perspective the struggles and emotions that you write about (highs and lows) into a much more powerful perspective. Of course, your great writing helps with this flow ~ and this piece does just this. You are one I admire now, chasing those memories and continuing to move forward. Wonderful post Mary.

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    • Oh, thank you. I’m glad you like the photos of dad in the header. He was certainly a hero to me. He was always a gentle man.
      I am chasing memories (good title for a poem) probably because I’m not yet ready to let go of him.

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  3. My brothers and sisters and I used to talk about it—that feeling that we were trying to grab our parents’ memories, somehow keep them by making them our own memories. But even when we then shared them with each other, we found that they were different memories, and it was too late to figure out which were more ‘real’.

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    • My sister and I have found we sometimes have different memories of the same experience. And I always believed we didn’t emigrate to Australia when I was a toddler because my mother was petrified of spiders and two Australian tourists on Islay (where we lived) told her about enormous spiders with feet like velvet. Apparently they encouraged them to take up residence in their houses. The migration was halted. It was only when we were sorting dad’s things and found the paperwork for emigrating that I told my sister the story of why we didn’t end up as £10 Poms. She laughed and said it was rubbish – we didn’t go because mum was pregnant with her! We’ll never know which version is the truth – maybe the true story is something totally different.

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