Memories are powerful things. My mother-in-love demanded that we not use our chosen girl’s name because of bad memories of a childhood not-friend. (Good thing we had a boy!) I refuse to even consider trying liver because of the clear memory of my stepmother trying to make me eat it as a kid. (Good thing Mother showed up!) Depending on their nature, memories can either hold us prisoner or free us – and they can be triggered by the simplest things.
The above photo took me instantly back to the best place on earth, my grandparents’ house on a country road halfway between Teague and Mexia (Texas). Granny always had this very plant and the hummingbirds that frequented it were her delight – mine too. In truth, I can hardly think about hummingbirds without thinking of her.
Memories of Granny lead me through rows of clean sheets hanging on the lines, past her in her sunbonnet picking peas, on to Grandaddy striding across the pasture with a faithful dog at his side. Then the dogs come out of memory’s hiding places. First there’s Shep, who I’m sure was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s dog; he was old, deaf, mostly blind, but such a lover. Then there come other dogs, not as distinct, until you get to Bouncer. Grandaddy considered naming him Battle Ax; thank God he listed to reason and accepted that any dog inclined to bounce on and off the porch like this one deserved only one name.
Bouncer is the last dog I remember. Grandaddy passed away and later, the very day I finished a leather collar for him in art class, we learned that Bouncer had been killed by a car. Granny never got another dog…I don’t think? I remember a conversation about how much traffic had increased on her road and what a danger it was to dogs. I don’t know… I was older then, and didn’t have as much time to spend up country, so I really don’t remember.
Even that thought triggers memories, though. When I was a child, you heard more wolves howling in the fields than cars driving down the road. I wonder…as much as the area has grown up…if those who live there now even hear the wolves anymore.
Memories are wonderful things. With them, we can get as close to time travel as we ever will in this life, stepping backwards in an instant to relive all we thought we’d left behind.