There are a series of three or four photo albums at my dad’s house in Salem. There are not as many photos in those albums as I imagine other families have. For one, we didn’t take photos very often just “around the house”. When my mother was dying, somewhere between her final diagnosis and final surgery, she tore up all the photos with her in them. In a time before digital anything, she deleted herself.
I came home one evening after school and found her sitting in her bedroom floor. Shoeboxes were strewn around and the albums were out. She had a pile of little photo pieces.
“What are you doing?” I asked. I don’t remember my tone, but I feel it must have been one of confusion and seriousness.
She never replied. This was at a time when her speech was clear, but words were hard to come by. I still don’t know if she was silent because she didn’t know what to say, or if she just didn’t want to say anything. Whatever the case, she knew what she was doing. I assume this was just her way of forcing us — me specifically — to move on.
As I get older I find I don’t remember as much of anything. I don’t remember what her voice sounded like. I don’t remember what her last words were to me. I don’t remember the people who attended her funeral. I just remember random flashes of scenes of phrases.
This is all to say I want to start writing things down. I’ve been journaling more lately. From time to time it might be worth sharing on my site.
And that is all to say what is my first, earliest memory:
Somewhere in those photo albums is a picture of a young me, probably barely old enough to walk. My grandfather is holding me up as he sits in his rocking chair. His ever-constant toothpick was in his mouth. He was a big, strong man with a bald head. One I evidently saw fit to stick a suction cup toy on to.
I remember looking at him, placing this toy on top of his head and watching it jiggle back and forth. It stuck on his head so perfectly, like a hood ornament for pop.
Someone, presumably my mom, snapped a photo. When I saw the photo many years later I could remember it. That is my earliest known memory.