It’s cold, a statement that after watching the news I guess almost the entire population of the UK will agree with. As is normal, Glasgow so far doesn’t seem to have had a single flake, something that from my first winter here, I really really missed. Having grown up in Aberdeen through the sixties and seventies, well snow was something we didn’t just see once every few winters, it was every winter and we had days and days of it. It wasn’t even just my childhood that was filled with snow, in fact, other than when I lived in Plymouth, I can’t remember a single winter where there hasn’t been enough for a decent snowball fight and a good sized snowman. Snow is the one thing that still wakes up the child in me without fail, but oddly the most fun I ever had in the snow, was right here in Glasgow, when I woke to find that it had unexpectedly been snowing. It was 2 am, I woke my then boyfriend and we headed out to build a snowman, one huge one in the garden area behind the flats overlooking the river and about a dozen tiny ones that we placed on the bonnets of every car in the car park. I never understood why being an adult meant you couldn’t have fun, actually if we think about it, we can have more than most kids do as we don’t have anyone to tell us no. We were asleep when most of those cars left, but to this day, I have this fanciful image of all our snowmen driving around the city making people smile. My snowman years may be behind me, but that doesn’t stop the child wanting to just know that it’s snowing out there and somewhere someone is doing just what I would, if I could just get out there.
Memories are funny things, there are the standout ones like the above, that I pray will never be taken from me and then there are the everyday ones, which far too many of already seem to be muddled or missing. Just like the room in one of my previous homes that I still know without the slightest doubt was there, yet even months on after losing it, I still can’t remember what it was used for, or even the have the slightest clue what was even in there. On it’s own, well what is one room out of a lifetime, but it isn’t just one room, I have more and more gaps, all with doors over them that I can no longer open. I can still remember clearly almost everything about every home I had as a child, the main events of my childhood are still there, even those that I truly wish I could forget, are still there as vivid as ever, but the names and the faces of those who were around me, well they have faded. Move forward into my twenties and strangely things get even worse, I don’t understand why but like that room, I know there are things missing and it’s not just people, but events that have gone or become mixed. It’s odd to explain as on the surface when you say you have forgotten, well that sounds like there should be nothing there, but it isn’t like that at all, as what you find are truly disturbing gaps, horrid spaces that taunt you like some kind of spectre, stood there in your mind telling you, you’re not allowed to access there. I never understood before why people with Dementia or Parkinsons were portrayed on TV and film as disturbed by not being able to remember, forgetting surely meant they wouldn’t be aware of anything wrong in their mind, now I am beginning to understand. For me it is silly things that I can’t quite see any longer, things that I can brush aside as they are small individual spaces, but there are enough of them now for me to empathise with those who have lost so much more than me.
I would have to say the most useless bit of advice anyone can ever give someone like me, is to say to them “don’t worry about it, it’s not important”, it is only not important when it is someone else not you. It doesn’t matter what it is, memory or a some other symptom, they all matter when it happens to you as it’s personal, especially memories. My PRMS can do whatever it pleases to my body, in fact, I would give it permission to if it just left my mind alone. The physical is always manageable, there is a pill or a trick or a way around, but none of those things work on your mind. I know many people build what they call memory boxes, well that one is almost impossible for me as I just don’t have the things to put in it, nearly everything in my home is new to me, my history has been wiped out more than once and I started again going forward without anything to remind me of the past. A few years ago I built what I called a memory trail, where I put memories from my past into new objects that I have around me in my home, the idea was a good one, but one with a problem just waiting to happen, I can no longer remember all the things I tried to attach to each item. I fear for the generation of photo happy youth out there, the ones who take a million pictures on their camera phones but never print them, at best store them on a hard drive or possibly a cloud somewhere. They are setting themselves up for an old age of missing memories, I can say that with ease as how many people had their childhood captured on “Cine film” or even more recently video and can no longer view it, unprinted photo’s will hold the same issues for the future, they might keep the SIM, but will they have something to read it?
For now I just keep staring those spectres in the eye and keep trying to push past them, maybe just once I will win and not just find half a step forward that there is another one blocking my way. Memories matter, they aren’t just our life, they are us, they made us, formed us and built the person now here, without them, well do we really know who we are or why we do what we are doing today.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 12/01/13 – Sharpening the focus