I often wonder if my earliest memories are real or if they are stories I’ve made around childhood photos in musty old photograph albums. I’ve looked at those photos for over 60 years but my memory is only of what is in the photo – no background story, no ‘what happened next?’
Do I really remember that doll’s party when I was five years old and the day at the beach with my cousins when I was nine? You see, I only remember what’s in the photo!
I’ll tell you what I do remember- and there’s no photos about these things that happened. But I know they happened before I was 7 years old because of where they happened.
I remember Dougie Knee falling out of a tree we were climbing and breaking his arm.
I remember Oriel Manly, who was babysitting me, locking me in a big wooden box in a game of hide and seek and being very frightened when she didn’t come back to let me out.
I remember blood, lots of blood, and my mother crying, and my father telling me to go back to bed. I never did talk to my mother about her miscarriage that night when I was 3 or 4 years old.
Beyond these moments of memory though my overall earliest memories are of being loved, feeling safe and not alone. I have no overall memory of fear or confusion but rather peace and contentedness. And surely that’s the loveliest memory on which to build a future.