This week in my human development classes, we talked about memory, and one topic was infantile amnesia. For some reason, most people don’t remember anything that happened before they were 2 or 3 years old. Why we don’t know. It could be that the hippocampus, a brain structure instrumental in episodic memories, isn’t developed until then. Then again, the fact that infants aren’t yet proficient in language could be a factor. In any case, that’s not the purpose of this post. The purpose is to share my earliest recollection and a little about the person who was part of it.
I was probably around 3 years old, and I was sitting in the back seat of a car listening to my mother and her mother exchange small talk as my mother parked the car. She said something to my grandmother and then got out of the car. I’m not sure where she was going, but I wasn’t alarmed because I knew she’d be back. My brother Mike, however, became extremely distressed. He began to cry as if his little heart was broken, and I reached over and put my arm around his shoulder, whispering that everything would be fine…that our sweet mama would be right back. It seemed like it was just the two of us. My grandmother was a great gal, but she didn’t seem to be involved (in my memory at least) in comforting Mike.
That’s it. That’s the first recollection. Some psychologists feel that the first memory is significant in telling us something about ourselves and our current relationships, lifestyle, and perhaps even self image. They encourage people to recall who was in the memory, and just as importantly, who was not. Maybe I’ll write more about this another day.
Today the purpose is to write about Mike, my little brother. He’s funny, smart, and extremely good looking. (Both of my brothers are, but this is about Mike). He’s a marathon runner, a CPA, a devoted husband, a doting father and grandfather, a Sunday School teacher (currently covering the Old Testament), a great speaker, a sharp dresser, an avid reader, a good dancer (hoping he and Lisa will dance at Paul’s wedding next month), and an interesting, multi-faceted person. He can always get the crossword puzzle words that I miss. Oh, and he looks so cool in bow ties.
And get this. Even today, if he’s upset, I’m upset. I’m also protective. If one of my own children were to say something like, “I saw Uncle Mike wearing yellow polka dot running shorts,” I’d say, “So?” First memory. Mine’s of my brother, and it has significance to my life today. What’ s yours? Come on and share. Maybe we can figure out what it means.