My father and I sit down at the breakfast table. He’s been up since five o’clock, and I just woke up to the smell of coffee. I scratch my head under my tousled hair. I try to recollect my strange dreams because they seem to entertain my father so, but all I come up with is darkness. We begin to reminisce about my last visit; dinners out, Dad helping me set up my camera to make photographs, me tagging along so he can run errands, and spending time with my sister. All of this seems so mundane, but these are the best part of visiting my family. Then we start to talk about our memories, me asking questions and dad struggling to cull some memory from his mind of what Sally and I were like when we were toddlers, or what happened on a vacation we took to Disneyland. The questions I ask are usually “do you remember this?” or “didn’t this happen?”. I’m sure there are images that crop into his head, but articulating these seems difficult. We compare notes. Typically, it is my memory that fails.
This is the problem with memory. There is no truth to it. It seems that every time we talk about an event it gets farther away from us, degraded just that much more. Trying to remember something other than through the aid of a photograph is difficult, and the picture does not tell it all.
There is a snapshot of the three of us at the ballgame, all happy faces and ball caps. It doesn’t show that by the 7th inning Sally was exhausted from the heat, that I was tired and nearly falling asleep, or that Dad wanted to stay the rest of the game but thought better of it with two girls in tow. The trouble with this is that it possibly never happened. I know we did go to a ballgame when we were children. I know that we may have gone several times. But I don’t really remember it. I think my father told me this story once, or I may have seen it in a movie.