Posts Tagged ‘memory’

“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.”~ Oscar Wilde 

If you are a fan of or have seen many episodes of the television comedy series, “The Big Bang Theory”, then you know of the character of Dr. Sheldon Cooper who from time to time will comment (or usually, correct others) on his eidetic memory.

Eidetic memory is ability to memorize the pictures in the smallest details. A man having such kind of the memory provides the projecting of the visual picture on the inside screen. Then the received image is read and analyzed. A man with eidetic memory can easily operate the buffer located between the visual channel and the rest of thinking organs. The pictures in this buffet of the common people are lightened up only for a moment and then dispersed, transferring the information further into the brains. An Eidetic keeps the pictures and can call them making the mind to analyze the information again.

It is known that many artists and draughtsman have ability to memorize the pictures and to reproduce them from memory. It indicates that figurative memory is not inborn but acquired virtue of a man and it can be developed.

The ancient oriental scientists ascertained that all people could be divided into four types – artists and thinkers. The thinkers easily memorize logical information, artists – visual information.

Since Aristotle’s time our civilization worked out its way mainly on development of the left logical hemisphere and it resulted in the loss by the major part of the mankind their ability to use their sub consciousness.

On the level of conscious activity only 10% of our brains is in operation, while subconscious activity counts to 90% of the human potential. Logical strategies of thinking use only small part of our abilities.

Found in an extremely small portion of the population, photographic (eidetic) memories continue to amaze and inspire. This phenomenon is often found in young children, however, most people lose this ability by the time they reach adulthood. Some speculate that this occurs because of a shift from visual to verbal memorization techniques. Young children tend to use pictures or images they’ve seen to recall information, but as they become more adept at speaking, they begin to use actual words to memorize things. For instance, when studying for a test or giving a presentation,  simply memorizing a few key words that will help remember everything one needs to know. In contrast there were monks that lived during the Middle Ages that made their memories better by envisioning images in their minds that would serve as a connection between unrelated information, and apparently this method allowed them to remember vast amounts of knowledge.

However, with each time that I hear that phrase of “having an eidetic memory” I often wonder whether or not I qualify in this case.

Whenever I am around my own family, I will come up with memories from the past and it would seem as if I am the only one that would remember the event ever occurring. And each member of my immediate family gets their minds blown by how much detail that I can remember from each event that is being discussed.

And even if one or more of them remembers what I am talking about in general, they do not recall or remember the more specific details.

Let me share with you a story to work as an example of this:

During the Christmas holiday of 2007, my family and I were all together around the table going through old things. Things that my parents had assumed that belonged to each of my siblings and I. For the most part, they got it right. But when it came time for really old photographs, my step-mother had actually wrote on the back of the photograph that I my younger brother was standing next to my older brother with their arms around one another’s shoulders.

This was not true.

Whom she thought was the older brother, was actually me. In the photograph, it was my younger brother and I.

There was a curtain in the background, which was the curtain to the sliding glass patio door that we had when I was growing up in my birthplace of Arkansas.

My younger brother and I were wearing matching white t-shirts and I had this goofy ass look on my face as I attempted to look like I was “growling” at the camera. I did that as a child because at the time, my teeth were a little pointed and I always think that I looked like a vampire. So I was trying to growl at the vampire like I thought at the time, that a vampire would do.

When I had explained all of this, there was not a sound in the room. Everyone was totally speechless. Up until the point where my father finally spoke up and said, “You and that steel trap memory of yours!!”. Unfortunately, the rest of that conversation wasn’t as lively and fun as I had hoped. I wasn’t trying to show off or anything. I was simply stating that I remember when that photograph was taken, and no… the other person in the photograph was me and not my older brother.

And this probably serves me well as I have in the past written about some wild stories in my life. My memory is strong and I do remember a lot of details about specific people, places, things, and events.

But does that mean that I have an eidetic memory? Or even a photographic memory? I cannot say for sure.

I know that there are some small tests online that a person can take to see if whether or not their memory is a photographic memory. I have not bothered with them though.

As an added bonus: the earliest memory that I do have was crawling on the floor in the kitchen, staring upwards at a calendar on the wall that was above the trash can. It was 1978.

A lot of people that I get to share my life stories with, particularly when it deals with my family or people that I have known when I was growing up as a child often suggest that I write a book about my life experiences and memories. I doubt that anyone would buy it.

The more and more that I watch “The Big Bang Theory”, the more and more I hear this term or phrase. It gets me to think of whether or not I fit that description. I’ve not made up my mind to decide on whether or not I want to pursue the truth on this matter. I just really don’t want to lose some of the memories that I do have as a child.



Posted: July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.”~ St. Paul

The 26th of July is a date that is no more absolute in my mind and in my life than Christmas or my own birthday.

The words within the quote of this blog post are the ones written on the tombstone, of my mother.

My mother died of ovarian cancer over twenty years ago and each time when this date arrives, I am reminded of the sorrow, the loss, and the pain that my entire family and I went through on that day.

Some of you who have been keeping up with this blog already know. Some of you don’t. And for those who do not, I had promised that I would write my story of that horrible day so that you may know and understand. As difficult as it is to think about and experience through memory, here it goes.

She battled with it for about four years. I have memories of doing what I could to help make my mother feel more comfortable by massaging her feet because I have very strong hands. Most of the time, it worked. So the story really begins That Tuesday and Wednesday before, mainly Wednesday.

I was called away from the dinner table for the second evening in a row. Interrupted from eating, and called into the bedroom of my parents, to actually help give my mother a back massage. Everywhere I had massaged, my mother claimed that it hurt. She was weak and unable to breathe. My father called the local doctor and asked for him to have oxygen brought to her. The doctor replied that oxygen could be brought into the home, but it would be brought by the following day OR my mother could go into the hospital where she would receive oxygen almost immediately.

I think that for my father, it was a no brainer decision to take my mother into the hospital. I had a terrible feeling about it, but was glad that she was going to get oxygen so she could breathe. Also, I was inwardly happy that I would be able to finish eating that evening, unlike the night before on Tuesday by the time my arms were so exhausted from massaging my mother’s back, it was time for bed and food was gone.

I pleaded with my father to allow me to return to the dinner table to finish eating. He allowed it and I told my mother “I love you.” She replied, “I love you too, sweetie.” in the most shallow of breath I have ever heard anyone speak. A common whisper would have been louder by comparison in volume.

Wednesday night, my mother was admitted into the hospital. She would never return back home. My sister shouted out the same thing as my mother was being helped from her bed to the car to go to the hospital. Almost at the last possible second of being heard, she shouted out, “I LOVE YOU, MOM!”. That time though, I did not notice a response.

The following days my siblings and I tried to go on “life as usual”. We were used to my mother being in the hospital because of chemotherapy and doctor’s visits and tests and what not. Sunday, the 26th was a day that was out of the ordinary.

My father was not in the pulpit, my siblings and I were not a part of the congregation during Sunday morning. It was just “weird”. Instead, we had gone up to the hospital to see my mother. When we got there, all I could see and hear were the sounds of normal routine hospital life. Machines running and beeping. My mother’s pulse and heart rate was terribly slow, but it was there and that’s all that mattered to me at that point. If it was beeping… she was alive. I feared the long steady drone beep while we were there, I just didn’t want to hear it.

My mother lying in her hospital bed, her eyes closed. I gazed upon her chest to watch it move slowly up and down, up and down. All the indications that I needed as a child to be assured that everything was still okay.

My father called out to my mother using her first name. She jumped. Her eyes opened for about a second, then her eyes looked about the room to see all four of her children standing around her in the room. Her eyes shut again, and it was back to slow breathing and machines beeping.

Some of us started to cry. By “us”, I mean us four children. I started to as well. A nurse came in and saw that I was sobbing and she attempted to console me. She actually removed me from my mother’s hospital room and escorted me down the hall, turning the corner and placed me into an empty hospital room where I could be all by myself to cry as much as I wanted…. telling me it was okay to cry.

When I noticed my family had walked by the room in which I was sitting, I sprung up and chased after them to catch up. My father scolded me for running out, but I explained that I was brought there. He then soon apologized.

We had lunch as a family, then came home. My elder brother having to go to work at Wal-Mart that afternoon. The rest of us, who were too young to be by ourselves were kept company by a woman who had a knack for entertainment that we found dreadfully boring in our youth. The board game, “Rummikub” and the card game, “Phase 10”.

These two games whenever I see it, inwardly reminds me of that day when I lost my mother. Even though now, I do play Phase 10 from time to time with my neighbors.

By the evening of the 26th, my younger brother and I were in a fierce battle of Phase 10 with the woman who was there to watch over us. It was coming down to the wire and the game finally came to a conclusion. I thought deep in my mind, “Great! We’re done with this long boring game, and my brother is coming home and so I don’t have to play this stupid game no more!!”.

I was right. My brother came home from work and before he even had time to set down his keys, the telephone rang. By that time, I had got up from the table and refused to clean up the cards and was heading to the bathroom to use it.

For my older brother, it was like he didn’t miss a step. He walked in, kept walking and headed straight for the telephone. By that time, I was making my way down the hall to do what I had to do. But he hung up as quickly as he answered the telephone and shouted, “Everyone. Dad said ‘let’s go’.. so let’s go!”.

Then he looked at me and kind of snarled a bit for going in the other direction. I told him what I had to do, and he let out a sigh of frustration. So I went and did my business.

My older brother and I will talk about this from time to time and he honestly has no memory of coming down on me for having to use the bathroom, and profusely apologizes to this day.

After that, we got into the car and sped like crazy. My older brother ignoring most STOP signs and only pausing for one red light before reaching the hospital.

I remember staring at my sister while riding in the back seat of the car. Her face a completely blank slate. Her mind had to have been racing, just like mine was. But no emotion she showed. Just sitting there breathing softly to herself.

We flew up to the elevator and getting off, we passed the nurse station and was met up by my father who quickly pulled everyone of us four children into a conference room. We did not find this fair at all because my mother’s room was just two doors away from the corner.

My father stood there, ignoring random questions. “Where is Mom?”, “Is she okay?”, “Where have they taken her?”– and so on.

When everyone was sitting down in the room and the doctor walked in, my father announced that my mother had gone into Heaven.

Nothing but grief, pain, and tears could be felt or heard for several minutes.

I asked my father, “When?”. He told me several minutes had gone by when she had died. I looked down at my digital watch that was on my wrist and counted it off. She had died at 7:24 PM.

The doctor that was standing there suggested that we all go in to see her. Two at a time. But I was so scared. I had never seen anyone that I loved dead before. I didn’t know what to expect, so terrified of what I might see. But the doctor was encouraging and eventually I did go into her room. I went up to her side and touched the bed, accidentally I had touched my mother on the arm. I was expecting her to move. I wanted her to jump just like she had when my father called out her name that morning. But she did not.

Even a few days later when we would view the body at the funeral home, I kept hoping and believing that she would wake up.

When we came home, everyone was in tears. My younger brother and I went to bed, staggering to get ready. Filled with grief. He and I shared a bedroom and even slept in a bunk bed. I remember listening to the sounds of my younger brother on the top bunk crying his heart out, it was unnerving. I had never heard him cry like that before and haven’t since.

My mother’s battle with cancer was finished. She also was no longer with us. I had no idea that young, what it would be like without a mother. She was a stay at home mother because of the special needs of me having a disability. She did everything for me. And I mean, EVERYTHING. It took my older brother almost a year after that to teach me how to tie my own shoes.

For many years, I would always think that “If I only didn’t have to pee, things would have been different…”, however that would take a long hard lesson to know, that was not true.

Personally… I was utterly lost and alone. Everything would change. My father would pick up where my mother had left off, because he felt he needed to. My father would eventually re-marry and I would grow and learn as I would need to.

Still, with each 26th of July that passes, nothing in the world surpasses the moments where I will think about my mother. Even after so many years that this happened, it is like it happened just a few days ago.

I will listen to the song that my mother & I would sing together whenever we would hear it on the radio, and think of her fondly.

I’m still here, mother. I love you.

“Memory is a paradise out of which fate cannot drive us.”~ Alexandre Dumas, fils

I went to the grocery store the other day and I saw a bunch of strawberries, and thought of someone. I smelled a pizza being baked in the bakery, and thought of someone else. Then I could hear a song being played over the store’s intercom system, and thought of someone else. Strolling through aisle after aisle there was a mother having an argument with her child about why she would not buy any ice cream and overheard her reasoning. When she said the phrase, “That’s the way it is.”, I thought of another person.

I found my brain being driven into overload from the memories of certain people that these certain things were reminding me. Throughout my time inside that store, I thought of these people. I wondered what and how they were doing, how their lives were, and an overall curiosity of simply, them.

The human memory has got to be one of the most powerful things that our brain posesses. I started to wonder about human memory. I wondered why some people can remember a lot, and others cannot remember what they did an hour before.

I had always been told by my own family, “You have a memory of steel.” I can remember a lot. People, places, things. And in great detail. I think it drives my own family to the edge of either insanity or jealousy whenever my brain releases these memories to my thoughts and I begin to tell their tales.

The earliest memory that I have, I was either three or four years old. I was in double leg casts after having surgery and I was crawling around on the floor inside of the house because my family did not have a wheelchair. Dragging those “heavy plaster boots” around me wherever I decided to roam. Having to be picked up by my parents and placed at the dinner table, or on the couch to watch evening television and then being put into bed.

That’s as far as I can go with my memory. It is not as distinct and clear as a certain memory that I have created today when I went out for coffee and donuts. That was today, this childhood memory happened many, many years ago.

Still though, what is it about our brains and about certain things that will cause us to remember individual situations and times?

The brain does not actually remember things like specific dates, but rather it remembers what we were doing on those specific dates and we are able to connect and assimilate exactly when that was. It is the actions that causes the memory. Not the day of the calendar.

So it was driving me crazy. What exactly is it that causes us to remember?

There are certain “triggers” that cause our brains to remember things. Little bitty things that will make us stop and think about what we had done in our past and where we have been, where we came from.

These things are the following:

  • Sensory
  • Emotions
  • Background
  • Intellect
  • Visceral Sensory

You can look them up on your own time, if you wish to research it further. However I believe that Sensory has got to be the strongest trigger that our brain uses in order to remember things.

I could see, smell, hear, taste, and touch all of these individual things and the senses go into action that I would remember particular situations with these people. Specific conversations or whatever. Nevertheless, their images were in my head in an instant and they remained on my mind the rest of the day. My thoughts were that they were all doing okay in their scope of life and that they were happy wherever they were.

It all boiled down to pleasant things. My reaction was priceless when I realized that everyone or everything that I was “remembering”, I have a fervent passion for. And for each their own reasons.

I cannot explain why I have such the remarkable ability to remember a lot of things in which my family cannot. Or other people for that matter. But I have been blessed with it. One memory will turn into another, and then another, and then yet another.

Memories are flowing as I still write this post!

What is it that causes you to remember certain things? And what is your earliest memory??

Certain events that happen in our lives can cause a memory that we end up remembering for the rest of our lives.

We have our good memories, and of course we have our bad memories as well.

But what makes any particular event so special that it becomes a memory? One that we cherish whenever we think about it and dream like it was only yesterday that it happened?

My own family can tell you that I have a steel-trap memory. I recall things that happened to me and my family as far back as three decades ago, and I’m not really “all that old”. They are totally fascinated that I recall specific events that happened with them, with me. I can remember what was said, what they were doing, and even sometimes what they were wearing. They tease me sometimes when they say that they hate my brain.

But what is it that causes “anything” to become “something”? Each and every day, our brains imprint certain things that we can remember. And other things that happen we don’t really focus on and therefore we don’t pay too much attention to it.

We remember a lot because we document things. We have photographs and video that was recording during certain times. And that causes our minds to reflect on those times and help us remember what we were doing at that exact moment. Momentos are a wonderful thing in my book.

Its wildly fascinating for others who seem to believe that their memory is not as good as others. We commonly joke if we had allowed our brains to not specifically take note of something when others have and we forget. Usually the standard is, “I don’t know. I’ve slept since then.”

I use that phrase all of the time if someone is talking to me and I do not recall what it is they are talking about.

We remember certain things. Our first kiss, our first date, our first car. The first time we bought a home. Our children being born. All of these things that happened in our lifetime that brought us nothing but complete joy. We are fixed with a multitude of happy feelings whenever we go through these experiences and we tend to remember them forever.

I have to admit that I just recently had one of these happy moments earlier today. I had been corresponding through e-mail with a female colleague for about two years. But that changed because at 1:28 AM, my cell phone rang. Scared the crap out of me, really. And it was her calling to say hello. I remember the time, because my brain is cool like that.

Two years and this is the first time we had ever actually spoken to one another. For me, it definitely was a moment in the making for a lasting memory.

I’ve even had another colleague call me for the first time ever several months ago, and we had been corresponding for even longer than two years. Try nearly ten!

I remember exactly what I was doing when I first received correspondence from my new friend that I focused and dedicated an early post on. I remember the date, I remember what was said, and I remember what I was doing at the time when I saw that I had a response.

And I cannot forget my small trip to Houston which happened a few weekends ago. Most of that is still fresh in my mind!

To me, these are happy moments. Glorious moments that filled my heart with love and joy. Something that is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. Just being able to stop and think back and then hear their voices in my mind. So kind and gentle and comforting.

And like I said, we have our “bad memories”.

I remember what I was doing when I heard that my mother had passed away from cancer. I remember what was going on in my mind when I went to the funeral. I remember what I said to my best friend at the time when I moved away to another state when I was nine years old. Sad memories, bad memories.

But I think that the world does concentrate on the bad stuff far too much than they should. With the good, will come the bad. But we do not have to dwell and focus on it all of the time.

But these past few memories that were made now in 2011, almost seem like small personal victories. I’m so very glad that they happened.

What kind of awesome, wonderful memories do you have? What exactly happened that caused you so much joy that you wanted to run up to the tallest mountain and shout to the world that this had happened to you and you would tell anyone who would stop and listen to your story?

On the previous note of having momentos, I too have them. Photographs, saved e-mails from special people. Video tape galore. I can re-visit that at any time I choose to.

This whole entry may not make a lot of sense, but I’m just so thrilled to have made this new lifetime memory. And yes, I am on top of my mountain and sharing it with you, the reader.

I think that our lives would be lost if we didn’t have our memories. How else would we know where we came from or where we are going?