Have you ever thought about how different each person’s memory of a certain event can be? A cousin of mine has been asking about all our uncles and it got me thinking.

I would see that often in my EMT/firefighter days when responding to calls. There, shock obviously played a huge part in how a person remembered events.

Then there are those moments when I’m telling a hilarious story and everyone is laughing while my husband sits there thinking ‘I don’t remember it happening that way…’. An author once talked about listening in on family conversations and thinking how more dramatic they would be if this person said that, and this person responded with this – and before long he’s telling that story as fact. Am I guilty of the same thing?

I think not.

No matter what the husband says.

Then there’s simply our interpretations. I have four siblings. We can be together talking about the same event (such as who put pennies in the fishbowl and killed all the fish) and each one of us will have a different memory, or a different interpretation. Even though we were all there and even though I was not the guilty party.

Obviously, what was important to me at the time is not necessarily what made an impression on the other people connected to the event and what they choose to remember.

My cousin remembers his father as having a bit of a temper. I remember him as one of the gentlest uncles.

My brother remembers being tortured listening to one song by the Bay City Rollers on a cross-country trip – the song being a scratchy cassette recording from a radio station. My sister and I remember that as a glorious, exciting road trip listening to the new release by the love of our lives and anticipating the upcoming concert.

My adult memories of our mother differ drastically from memories my siblings have. And their memories allow me to bring back the wonderful, caring memories of my mother when I was a child.

I remember snow six feet deep in the 1960s. My father remembered snow two feet deep at the same house during the same time period. I blame an alternate reality thing.

I’m curious why something sticks in one brain and not in another. I love the stories that come from those memories. I love seeing the person resurrected by memories – the other side, new insights, contrasting opinions. Enrichment of all.

And of course this can be used in writing, too, where you allow characters to have these different memories and opinions.

I remember…oh so many things. So many stories.

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