Sometimes J and I wonder how much Mr. C will remember when he’s an adult. We both have brief memories of things that happened to us when we were very young, but nothing substantial, just brief glimpses. It’s similar to memories of a dream that made a strong impression from years ago. It’s funny how some memories from early childhood can make lifelong impressions. These memories can be about the most mundane things too.
Whenever the Olympics take place, I’m always reminded of my grandfather, and how we would watch the events together whenever we could. Some of my earliest memories are of the Olympics of 1968, when I was three. Nothing really substantial, just brief glimpses of some track and boxing events. My grandfather would sit in his living room, in a leather upholstered club chair, with armrests so high they would be above his head once he had slumped down into the seat after a few minutes. I would sit on the floor, next to his chair, usually with my cousin’s dog sitting in front of me and partially blocking my view. I’d bombard him with questions about the events we were watching. He would explain the finer points of the boxing and track events, which along with equestrian events were his favorite sports.
I have many more memories of watching the 1972 games with him, when I was seven. I’m sure that my concept of fairness, sportsmanship, and interest in foreign cultures were developed while sitting at the base of that huge leather chair.
Some very specific memories from 1972 popped into my head as I was reading an article in The New Yorker recently. It was about the 800 meter event in the London games this month. The reporter began the article by writing that the US never medals in that event. ”What! Dave Wottle, gold medal, 1972!” I blurted out. Where did that come from? Dave Wottle? And then I remembered watching the 800 meter race with my grandfather. Dave Wottle ran the race while wearing a cap, which he then forgot to take off during the medal ceremony.
How did a memory from 40 years ago pop into my head like that? It may have made a big impression on me because of the cap. Or maybe it was my grandfather’s extensive speculation on wether he left the hat on during the anthem as some kind of protest, or if he just forgot. Or maybe it was the odd smell of his coffee and whiskey concoction that he would sip as he watched the events. Or maybe the dog constantly getting in my way as I was trying to watch the games! But there it is, I can remember the whole thing.
Ask me who the members of my home town Boston Red Sox are this year and I’d probably be able to come up with two or three names, and yet I can remember a single race from 40 years ago.
What will Mr. C remember 40 years from now ? The tumble weeds of cat fur that float around the messy house ? Or maybe the stuffed dog toy that J stitched back together when his head popped off? Hopefully it’s more good than bad.