Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First Memories of Lynda

My first memory of my mother was also the birth of my lifelong desire to please her. I remember it as a single incident, but more likely it was a series of events which I have distilled for the purpose of recalling it with the importance it deserves.

It is important, of course, because it is my first memory; try though I have to recover something earlier, it is in fact my first real memory, and I don't mean that it is just the earliest visual recollection of my mother, Lynda.

I mean that in all these years, as much as I have searched my consciousness, the memory of helping my mother hang the laundry out to dry in our back yard in Abilene Texas, in 1960 is my very first entry in this life journal I have lived now fifty-one years. It is significant not only that it is of my mother, but the very memory is associated with feelings and desires that persist to this day. Some of those feelings are unpleasant, and some of those desires have left me unfulfilled, but the feeling of sincere love, unfettered by a past or any knowledge of hers bore up the desire to free her from the pain she expressed about life. At first, it was physical things, feeling sad that she didn't have them and wishing I could get them for her, but the desire evolved as I learned more abouther and realized that wasn't just things that this woman didin't have, but it was also a stte of mind that she was inacable of acheiving.

Simply put, I soon came to realize that my mother was unhappy, and not just that, she was not ever going to be happy. I realized this at the age of four, and yet have not yet failed in my quixotic attempts to miitigate, if not outright eliminate at least some of the unhappiness that my mother was constantly expressing. I say I have not yet failed because the quest, though now very near to it's end, is not actually over. Lynda is as of thiswriting, still alive, tho I expect futher entries in this memoir to come after the inevitable loss of her life, her love, companionship and trust that will also mark the failure of my quest.

But are not the real quests of life destined to end thus is failure? It is not being hopeless to realize that some searches will never result in treasure and that some desires, no matter how heartfelt, are destined to remain unsatisfied. If at the age of four, when hope is not imagined, but felt, lived as though it is all we have because it is, I could hope for my mother and yet knowthat it was hopeless, what matters is not the thought,but the deed, what I did in response to both the hope and the knowledge of the certainty of failure is telling of the human force, what makes us different in yet another way.

There it is, I knew then that my mother was unhappy but I also knew that there was nothing I could ever do to change that. I remember thinking, 'She likes being unhappy!' 'Complaining makes her feel better!' 'If she didn't have anything to complain about, then she would really be unhappy!' That is an odd thought sequence for a four year old, but that is what makes this a memory. Not only do I remember the physical circumstances of that moment (or more likely, moments), but I recall, with a clarity that is not diminished with age, these thoughts, and how they fit together as an answer to a question I had, probably since birth: What's wrong with Mom? Why is she so sad?

These thoughts, and the conclusion I reached, then represent my first awareness of my ability to reason and find an internal answer to troubling aspects of my life. It's as if this was the day that I 'woke up', that something happened in my brain that was not just useful or exciting but extraordinarily pleasurable. 'Hmmm...I can think!' is sort of the way I would describe that thought, followed by another one: 'This could be useful' and then 'Maybe even powerful...' It is indeed.

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