Today is the day my mother’s mother was born. Though she passed away when I was young, I always felt this deep connection to her. I never really understood how I could feel so connected to someone that I had no conscious memory of. I often wondered what life would be like had she not passed? Many days I yearned for her presence but never understood why I wanted her so much. I grieved her death, but how could you miss someone so much that you didn’t even remember?
Perhaps Freud was right, maybe there are unconscious memories that impact our lives? Maybe the time spent when I was a young child was just enough to connect our spirits in an unwavering bond, that not even conscious memory could break. Science teaches us that most people’s conscious memories form when we are about 4 or 5, maybe even 3 years old for some people. We tend not to remember much of what happens to us during the first couple of years of our lives, we are in essence too young to remember, our brains not quite fully formed to store such information.
But what our brains may not store, is it possible our hearts do? Could our spirits “remember” connections with people and experiences we had? Have you ever been in a place or saw a person that looked so familiar but you just couldn’t consciously place your finger on how, when, or where? It was something you just knew. Implicit memory is the a type of memory that is “characterized as a lack of conscious awareness.” In amnestic patients, implicit memories aid their ability to complete procedural tasks. For example despite their memory loss they may still be able to tie their shoes. They may not remember where or how they learned to do so, but the ability to perform the task is still there. Evidence that something in our body is wired to “remember” things even when the memory is not conscious.
So as I pondered this connection with a woman who I love and revere despite no conscious memory of her, it brought my attention to the fact that I have always heard how kind, thoughtful, and giving she was. I remember a letter my family found that my grandmother had written to my grandfather, and in closing she spoke so highly of my own mother “she is such a sweet girl…I sure hope the good Lord blesses her.” I smile because I realize that a part of my love for my deceased grandmother is attributed to the love I have for my own mother; a woman so kind, generous, loving, and selfless. My mother, is “her mother’s child.” And I love, honor, and respect her so much, that I love, honor, and respect the woman who she feels the very same way about, and who passed along such good qualities. The yearning I have to be next to my grandmother, is associated to the connection I have to my own mother and wanting to be connected with the woman who passed along such a great spirit. I will forever love and adore my grandmother, she is the woman who made my mother such an amazing person. As mother’s day approaches and I celebrate my own mother, I must pay homage to the woman who gave her life and passed along such a vibrant spirit.
Think about a special person in your life. What qualities define them? Where did these qualities come from? It’s likely some of the amazing qualities your loved one has, are in fact directly connected to amazing qualities in a person they deeply care about. The way I feel about my grandmother, is a reminder that the legacies we pass down are based on the lives we touch. What will your legacy be?
The power of the human connection.