Memory is a strange thing. Three people can see the same event yet see three different things. Memory is like that. Everything is about perspective.
Here’s my favorite perspective story ever.
After my divorce, my kids and I lived in a townhouse condo. My son, who is my youngest child, does not remember the time before the divorce, because he was about 18 months old. So to him, kids lived with their mother, and they visited their dad on the weekends. Or whenever. He was completely fine with that, because that was what was normal to him.
One afternoon after work, I was in the bathroom next to the front door and the doorbell rang. Steve yelled I’LL GET IT!!!!! I thought oh no!! Steve was about 4 years old. As I hurried out of the bathroom I could hear a man say “Is your father home?” To which Steve responded “How would I know?” and slammed the door.
I quickly opened the door back up and there was a bewildered boy scout and his father still standing there. They were doing a fundraiser and selling “guy” things like tools, light bulbs, and a bunch of other things like that I can’t remember. Except they were perfect single mom things, too.
My son has no memory of this. He remembers the story, but not how he felt at the time, or what we were doing. A precious memory for me….none for him.
Kids have events at school that parents go to. Period. It’s a given. I remember a few times my parents came to school to see me in something. We had “bring your dad to school day so he can tell you about his job” in 2nd grade and I was so proud of my father being there in his Air Force uniform. The next year he came again, except it wasn’t bring your dad to school day, I just pretended it was. He was embarrassed and annoyed with me but I still thought it was awesome. He smartened up and didn’t show for 4th grade.
They came to a couple of orchestra concerts and events while I was in elementary school. But then they stopped. I don’t know why. My perspective was that everyone in the whole world’s parents were there but mine. My mother’s alcoholism played a big part in their absences from school events.
She didn’t come to my First Holy Communion. Some day I’ll get over that, but I’m 63 so I’ve been carrying that around for a long time.
Anywho, the one event in high school that my parents attended was a drama production where I was a part of the Pantomime Troupe. I can still do the whole routine. I talk a lot, and my father said he came because he didn’t believe I could shut up for that long. He was being serious. And I proved that I could.
Then, college. There aren’t many events for a parent to attend in college. Dad came 2 years in a row for Father’s Day Weekend, bringing a brother to each. Then he stopped. My mother came out for one Mother’s Day weekend, but it being Ohio, there was a tornado, so that put an end to that.
Then, the Big Day. Graduation. I was going to stand on a stage and receive my diploma for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Romance Languages from Ohio Wesleyan University. I was so proud. And so happy that my parents had come from New York for the occasion.
They called my name, I went up the steps, received the diploma and shook the hand of the college president and returned to my seat. As we threw our caps in the air I was in 7th Heaven. I walked to where my parents had been seated.
I walked around.
I found my roommate’s parents and asked them if they had seen my parents. They just looked at me and said “Your parents asked us to tell you congratulations and they went to the airport.”
Who does that? I mean, really.
In the age before cellphones, I couldn’t just call them. I had to wait until I figured they would have flown from Ohio to New York, and driven the hour north to our house. So later that night I called them.
I asked them why they left. How could they do that?
They matter-of-factly replied that they had come to watch me graduate and that’s exactly what they did.
Literal much? Not my favorite memory. But for them?
It was all a matter of perspective.