The Short Memory of Time


My wrinkled hands are still clutching the rocking chair armrests, desperate to hold onto some memories of my life.

Noelle Walker, Staff Writer

I sit, my wrinkled hand clutching the handle of my white rocking chair.

How did time pass by so fast?

Memories flood into my mind so quickly that they are only glimpses.

I heard about these things happening to so many people, but I just didn’t comprehend the fact that it could happen to me.

Birth, childhood, graduation, college, marriage, children, and, soon death.

It all passed by so quickly: before I could even blink.

My wrinkled hands are still clutching the rocking chair armrests, desperate to hold onto some memories of my life.

I spent my whole life looking toward the future instead of living in the present. My life was filled with a bunch of ‘I just needs.’

“I just need to make it through high school first.”

“I just need to get into college first.”

“I just need to get to college first.”

“I just need to get a job first.”

“I just need to get married first.”

“I just need to have children first.”

Until this moment, where all the “I just needs” have turned into an “I just need to get all that time back.”

As of right now, I’m gazing into my front yard. Its noon on a Saturday and cars occasionally drive by.

The yards in my neighborhood are empty.

The rocking chair where my husband used to sit is empty.

My grandchildren are inside playing video games and their parents, my children, are probably sitting at the kitchen table on the phone as they ignore their promise to come outside to sit with their elderly mother.

And at this moment, my heart breaks for them because their potential memories are passing them by just as they did with me. Because they aren’t going to remember phone calls they had or the video games they played; they’ll only remember the true memories—the real ones.

Sometimes I remember a few things my mother used to tell me—the memories of her childhood. She used to tell me about how she played with the neighborhood kids from the moment the sun rose till the moment it set. She would tell me about a boy who was part of their ‘neighborhood group’ who loved Michael Jackson and even had a Michael Jackson glove that he wore, not only because he loved him, but because he knew how much my mom did. And that story reminds me that, in a couple of years, Michel Jackson himself will be nothing but a couple songs played on old albums and a little whisper in the minds of people who remember.

She would also tell me other tidbits of memories, including this one time where she, her sister, and a neighborhood boy went ‘exploring’ around their houses. They came across a field and, since my mom didn’t have shoes, the boy let her ride on his back while he and my mom’s sister trudged forward. When they got home, they all had poison ivy except for her because she had ridden on the boy’s back.

And she would tell me about how the neighborhood boys would chase her around with a frog because they knew she was terrified of them.

She would tell me some of these stories over and over again and it would sometimes frustrate me, but I know now that I shouldn’t have been worried because repeating these memories made her remember them. And remembering means that the memories aren’t lost.

Just thinking about her memories makes my heart clench in pain because I miss her and her repeated stories and the stories. Especially the stories that I never got to hear.

Suddenly, I’m in kindergarten sitting with my class on the carpet, and my teacher, Mrs. Barrow, is pointing to different shapes, asking what they are. When she came to a diamond, or rhombus (because she liked for us to call it that), instead of calling it like a diamond like I usually did, I blurted out “rhombus!” I was the only one who called it that correct name and I remember the proud look in my teacher’s eyes as she told me good job; later she even told my mom how proud of me she was. I have a lot more small memories, but they’re blurring around in my head so that I can only remember one at a time.

No matter how much I try, I can’t remember details of certain memories.

The big memories.

But it is at this moment that I have come to the realization that, sometimes, the little memories are the big ones. They count. They’ve led me to be the person that I am today.

I’m not proud of all my memories, though—even when I was really young there are still some I regret.

I remember that I was in a softball game and I was playing in either left field or center field (I don’t really remember). At that age, hardly any balls ever came to the outfield. But, I remember one instance in particular. It was a girl—and she hit a humongous pop fly to the outfield; it was so good, that it could be a homerun and the winning hit of the game. Except it is the moment the ball was in the air that makes me feel sick to my stomach. It was coming straight towards me. At the sight of the ball, two other outfielders came and were practically squeezing my sides because they wanted a chance at catching it. But that didn’t matter because the ball was coming straight towards me. I held my glove up, ready to catch it, but at the last second, I got so scared that I took a step forwards, knowing that I would not catch it if I took that one step.

The ball hit the ground, and the batter ran home.

I have other bad ones, worse ones, but my mind has already swooped into another direction.

I’m trying so hard to remember my big memories, but they come vaguely.

Graduation and walking across a stage to get my diploma; the blast and boom of music at multiple graduation parties that filled my ears afterward; Tears streaming down my face as I drove to college, leaving my whole past behind; the nervous flutter I had when I met my husband for the first time; the tears of sorrow when he passed away; the fear and anticipation of when I graduated college to pursue my dreams; the pure love that radiated throughout my body when I gazed into my daughter’s eyes for the first time. So many emotions tied into just a glimpse of another memory.

Everything that made me what I am.

Everything that made me who I am.

This is another immense moment when I realize that, when you try to look at the big picture of memory, it’ll most likely be fuzzy. But when you focus on little details, you find out that those are what make the picture beautiful.

Yes, I do wish that I lived more in the present than the future, but I’ve realized that you can’t change the past.

You have to live in the present.

So, as my children’s voices murmur into their telephone and the chirping of my grandchildren’s video games fill my ears, I continue rocking in my rocking chair until even this moment gets turned into nothing but a memory.