Baruch atah … asher kiddshanu b’mitzvotav V’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom HaZikaron.” (Blessed…who has sanctified us through His mitzvahs and commanded us to kindle the candles of the Day of Remembrance.) So reads the blessing for the kindling of Rosh Hashana candles in Hassidic homes, as well as others who have adapted that text. “Yom HaZikaron” is another name for Rosh HaShana.
My own personal “Yom HaZikaron,” my own personal “Day of Remembrance” occurred earlier this week, as I witnessed the dismantling of the contents of the house I grew up in. True, I had only lived in that house for 10 years, but those 10 years were years of my childhood; those 10 years were my formative years. As the disposal companies carried away the bed I slept in, the desk that I all too often left hopelessly cluttered and the bookshelf that held the books that defined me as an individual, I watched in silence. Long before I set out for my home town this past Sunday, I knew that in all likelihood, I would not be able to bring myself to drive past 14 Coralberry once it was sold. It would be much too painful.
But the memories will not only remain within the walls of that three-bedroom structure with its “L shaped” living room and dining room. The memories will be shared with siblings and family members; the memories will be passed along to my grandsons, although I find it difficult to believe that they will have any interest to hear about squeezed joint mortar which, short of a major remodeling by the new owners, will remain in place, and the roxatone (white with gold flecks) paint that covered the used dining room set purchased at Cosman Furniture that has long been replaced. Similarly, my grandsons will in all probability roll their eyes, as I tell them about the primitive gas mower with a separate cord for starting purpose, that I all too often would have to coax to start before tending to the front and back lawn during the all too short Winnipeg summers.
Even though I am no psychologist, I cannot help but feel that memories fall into three categories:
Although it borders on an oxymoron, there are memories that, were it not for others to jog your mind, you would never have recalled the event or moment. However, once those memories are brought to mind – provided they are neither embarrassing nor painful – you are most incredulous that you could have suppressed the event or moment but are so very grateful that others reminded you of it. Thanks to their having jogged your mind, you now have yet another memory that you can fondly recall and possibly even embellish a little.
There are shared memories. These are the most common and quite often the funniest to recall. Share memories are substantiated memories. Shared memories are validated memories that reassure you that the event actually did take place and that you are not dreaming it or fabricating it. Shared memories are enriched memories. Others often tweak shared memories by contributing their own version, either real or contrived, in the hope of making the memories more special than you recall them to have been. At the very least shared memories tweaked by others add a level of entertainment. Even if you are positive that the other person is stretching the truth, let that person remember things that way he or she believes they actually happened. After all, does it really matter if it was the hottest day ever or if you never said what they claim you said?
Perhaps most important of all, there are memories that are personal. Not because there is anything embarrassing, secretive or untoward about these memories. It’s simply because these memories involve only you. And even if others were in fact part of these memories, it matters little if anything to them. Personal memories are the most special, because they are uniquely yours. And whether they bring a smile to your face or a tear to your eye, it is your smile and your tear and no one else’s. Personal memories are uniquely yours without being cast as selfish. Personal memories are the glue that holds your past, your unique past together. Now that the contents of 14 Coralberry have been disposed of and once the house is sold, it will be these personal memories that I will cherish the most.