On a recent trip to Placerville, Idaho, we passed Lucky Peak Dam. The bottom of the dam there is a park called Sandy Point.
Some of my best childhood memories are in this park. During the summer when my dad was working, my beloved friend Carolyn and her son Doug would go to the park on Wednesdays and Saturday.
We didn't have a lot of money and this park was a cheap alternative. She would drive her old Cutlass or Buick station wagon, pack a lunch for us, and we would play in the water for hours and hours.
Carolyn insisted that Doug and I would place her blanket near an overweight lady. In that way Carolyn would laugh and say “I will look good by comparison!”
She would read magazines or books, play her portable radio, and watch as Doug and I would try to catch minnows and crawdads.
Those are vivid memories for me, but we were driving to Heather's cabin, I told her that sometimes the memories are too sad for me.
I said that it is ironic that my stroke did not cause any memory losses at all. I meant that sometimes if I had to have a stroke maybe it would've been better if I could excise some memories that are too painful for me.
Carolyn was like my second mom. So for me it seems like I lost four parents: my mom, my step dad, my dad and Carolyn.
When I hear an Ella Fitzgerald song I instantly think about my stepfather Karl. I love Ella but that music reminds me and my stepdad is gone. Whenever I barbecue a steak, I think about my dad. Whenever I hear a Patsy Cline song I think about my mom because she was a wonderful singer and she would often sing along to the radio with Patsy Cline's music.
When we passed the dam, I told my wife that some of these memories are too painful for me. Time has not lessened the pain in some respects.
So feeling sorry for myself because of my stroke, I said that it's ironic that I have no memory loss even though I would like to have selective memory loss. I have thought about that a lot lately. A stroke can cause anyone to be so despondent and sad. You can dwell on your stroke and all of the things that have gone wrong in your life.
Part of this is you get mad about the losses of people that you love. A stroke is a blow, and the loss of loved ones who love YOU really compounds the agony of my loss.
As my wife often does, she said change your perspective. Embrace those memories. Don't think about the people that I have lost, rather think about the fun memories in those moments that were both fun and so very real. I can hear Carolyn humming “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash. I can hear Karl telling me about his favorite album “Thirty by Ella.” I can think about my dad going to Buttrey Foods and ordering thick tenderloin steaks. I can think about Mom laughing and singing when she did housework.
I thought about this a lot over the weekend. She is right. I should celebrate my memories rather than try to forget them. But, it is hard. I will work on it.