Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Elusive Memory Triggers

The other day when I was telling you about my babysitter Surely Goodness, I listed the first and last names of the other women who watched me when my mother was at work. I clearly remembered a woman named Louise, but I couldn't think of her last name for the life of me.

I have clear memories of sitting on her kitchen floor by the back steps and petting her scrawny, little Chihuahua. The thing wore tiny, green rubber boots on rainy days when it had to go outside to piddle. I remember the woman's surly husband, Bob, who was rarely around during the day, but when I did get a glimpse of him sitting in his Barcalounger, he never said a word that didn't sound more like a grunt. I remember Louise's big silver hair that seemed always teased, and I can see her sitting with the other women at church whose husbands didn't attend either.

Not only did Bob not go to church, but he drank beer and he smoked cigarettes. If he had gone to church, he would have been frowned upon, and he would not have been allowed to be a deacon. Deacons couldn't use tobacco products of any kind, which is why my father, a chewer, was only a trustee. Apparently trustees didn't have to behave according to denominational standards or show any level of spiritual maturity. They just had to be good with tools.

Bob would probably have made a good trustee. I remember this much because yesterday while sitting at a stop light in town, I saw a red cement truck drive by, and even though I had not been thinking about Louise's last name, I shouted out loud to no one but me, "LORENZ! HER LAST NAME WAS LORENZ!" I think Bob was a construction worker of sorts, and I think he even had his own business that included cement trucks. That part of my memory is a little fuzzier than the memory of the dog with the green rubber boots.

It's odd how the sight of something can trigger a memory, giving you a word or a name or a vision that was hiding in a corner. If I have learned anything here, it's that when a memory evades you, you just have to be patient and wait for the right stimulus to cross your path.


Shan said...

I don't know if I can handle that image of a chi-hua-hua in green boots!!! Back then? Oh my! She was the first Paris Hilton! :D

MmeBenaut said...

Hee hee - Shan; Paris is a stereotype of herself! I LOVE the little green boots but feel sorry for the poor little thing having to wear them. I bet it would have loved getting its feet wet!

You're right about the memory thing Robyn. It's just that patience is disappearing with my memory. I get so furious whenever I can't remember something. I used to be able to remember everything so well (apart from one period of my life which has disappeared completely!)

Alifan said...

Wait till you get to my age it gets worse!!! tee hee....

lynn said...

Smell is the strongest memory jogger, of course. I enjoyed your writing Robyn!

dive said...

A la recherche du temps perdu, eh, Robyn?
I love the fact that the church frowned upon certain people but would welcome them in if they were "good with tools".
A very pragmatic approach. Hee hee.