I am struck so much by memory lately. Not in a morbid way or anything, strictly reflecting on its power.
I read "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" again for my book club. I loved it the first time around (2009) and the re-read was equally delightful.
I had thought in the past that it was such a shame most of us can't plumb the depths of our parents' memories. I spent a huge quantity of time (afternoon upon afternoon) with my mother when she had terminal cancer where she shared so many memories with me. I didn't take notes, much to my regret now, I thought it would embarrass her. But I could have written so much down in privacy later but it didn't occur to me caught up in my own grief and the care of my own two babies. She had fascinating memories. I'm trying to assemble them in a book. For instance, she recalled, in detail, the shock and horror of a barracks explosion in Castlemartyr, County Cork when she was a very small child. And contrary to many others, she remembered the kindness of the Black and Tans throwing her and her sisters English toffees as they rolled by her house in huge, loud trucks on their way to Youghal.
And then this line in the aforementioned book struck me:
"I am betraying you by dying, I am truly causing you to die....must we also put to death those who were still alive only through us."
And I think of living with my grandmother and grandfather for a while in that small village, and watching him, a labourer, set off for work in the morning and coming home at night with sausages in his back pocket (an enormous treat) and me helping him set the traps for the rabbits on the back acre, and tossing grain at my granny's chickens, and being kept up for all hours - don't tell yer mammy sitting on his lap while he and his pals set Ireland to rights and sang impossibly long olachons (laments) in the Sean Nos style. And one time, dancing with my granny while a fiddle and a harmonica and spoons and bones kept time. My granny was old to me then (in her late forties!)and I remember clapping my hands in glee at her agility on the flagstones.
I would be the only one remembering all of that (eldest grandchild)and I suppose, when I go, it'll be a second death for those, now long gone, who continue to live, and so very clearly, in my memory.