Re-record, Not Fade Away

I wonder if anyone reading this remembers Archie the skeleton and this advert for Scotch video cassettes. Having looked it up on YouTube it reminded me that it was from 1985, the year I moved to the UK. I don't know how long it ran for, but it would seem that the marketing team nailed it with this one.

Shit, I'm a little surprised I can remember it actually, I have a very selective memory. That's really the subject for this post.

Here is a dictionary definition for you -

mem·o·ry  (mm-r)n. pl. mem·o·ries1. The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience.
2. The act or an instance of remembering; recollection: spent the afternoon lost in memory.3. All that a person can remember: It hasn't happened in my memory.4. Something remembered: pleasant childhood memories.5. The fact of being remembered; remembrance: dedicated to their parents' memory.6. The period of time covered by the remembrance or recollection of a person or group of persons: within the memory of humankind.

I write about what's going on in my head, and it usually makes sense. I sometimes write about things that make no sense at all to me. It's kind of a cleansing, being able to get it out and into another form. I find it fascinating the things you hang onto and also just how much you are able to forget. I'm sure there are endless studies and books that I could read to try and find some pattern or reasonable explanation for it. I can't imagine there are any solid answers as to how we chose which memories to keep and which to discard though. It would seem that everyone has a place in their brains where the bad memories can be put. Locked away preferably to never be thought of again. I wonder how we found this ability and where in fact these electric pulses really go. I can say without a doubt that I have such a place, it's more of an abyss however. Think of the size and depth of the Grand Canyon, paint it black and that's where my most disturbing memories go. I found this place early on in my childhood and it has grown to accommodate all that I have given it to great effect. Does our brain handle these memories independently throughout our lives, placing them in the darkness or light?

I know for a fact this place is real, because I have retrieved memories through therapy sessions. It is necessary to retrieve certain memories in order to understand them, move on and be a healthy person. Some things need dealing with once you are strong enough and able. The one thing I will say is that after having these memories brought back, I have not been able to banish them to the abyss once more. They are the same memories too terrible to face in the past, and every bit as heartbreaking in the present, but they do lose their power. I can access them any time I want but they no longer bring tears. It's as if watching some old VHS recording and tossing it back into the storage box in the attic. Like they were recorded onto Scotch video cassettes if you will. (Zing!)

Next week marks the ten year anniversary of my father's death. I'm happy that I can remember some very good times with him, but there just weren't enough. I know my dad loved my brothers and I, I just wish he could have known us all better. Being the eldest I have the most memories out of the Boswell boys, and that too saddens me that my brothers missed out on even the small bit of time I had with him. I can't in my right mind work out why this happened to us, and to him. I cherish the fact that he was happy, he had a wife he loved and good friends. He had his mother and sisters close and I know he thought about us often. I don't think there have been many days in these last ten years that I haven't thought about him. I regard him as a super hero from knowing what he did, hearing about the type of person he was and understanding as a father how hard it must have been to not be with us. I wish he knew that's how I feel about him.

Last week we went on holiday to Somerset with my brother and his crew. It was interesting to see how we interact with our wives and kids, and with each other. I can't fully express just how proud he and my youngest brother make me. Both fathers now, I get glimpses into their lives and see just how great a job they are doing. I know some of that is driven from a desire to not fuck things up and put the kids through what we experienced. I wish we could all just accept that it will never, ever, happen. We want simple things like love and happiness in our homes. We want our kids to live normal lives, have close friends and live without shame. Personally I try my best to hide any struggles, any difficulties from my kids because I don't want them to feel any misplaced responsibility. Almost everything I do is for them, and any problems are of my own making for being too hard on myself and sometimes wanting the impossible when I have already done enough.. I said almost everything, because you have to take care of yourself as much as your loved ones.

Whilst on holiday our mother sent my brothers and I slightly different (manipulative) versions of the same email. Loosely it said she and our step father were broke and they were on the verge of having the power cut off. If we'd gotten this email from anyone else we'd have busted our balls trying to find ways to help. But all this did was bring a slight raising of the eyebrows, light cursing and the opening of fresh cold beers. This is just the latest in a unbelievably long list of letters, emails and texts almost always out of the blue or at inopportune moments in our lives where she has some problem that she refuses to be responsible for. Another virus on the computer, another scam where she's lost money, another illness that the doctors can't diagnose, another attempted suicide, drug dependency and alcohol addiction. You know that's just the things I feel comfortable about sharing. Some of my friends have said "You really didn't have it that bad growing up" and I'm sorry but they don't know shit about it. I don't know how our reaction will make people feel, especially members of our own family, all I can say is we've done what we can and all reached the point where we have to accept that there is nothing we can do for her. When someone is broken and refuses to get help there is nothing you can do.

There are some memories of mistakes I have made, times when I have hurt the people I love. I pray regularly for forgiveness and peace from the pain these bring. I guess I am just not ready yet to forget them. I mention this because in each case these mistakes were made when I thought I could go it alone, that I didn't need to be loved or helped by anyone.

A question I've asked over the years is why do I remember so much about growing up that seemed to serve no purpose other than to hurt. Again some memories are like seeing it on repeat on television, it can't hurt me and I can change the channel. Others I can still feel and haunt my dreams to this day. I think the answer is these memories I've kept have ensured I don't make the same mistakes. They give me a reference, a guide to how NOT to do things. I want all the photos in our family album to have smiles. I want there to be love in everything we do together. My daughter started big school this week and my wife took a photo of the two children hugging before school in their uniforms. Honestly I almost cried at my desk at work when I saw it. You can see the sibling love despite all the times they bicker and cause a fuss. My son looks every inch the proud older brother, and that makes me very proud of him. The photo as cute and heart melting as it was already revealed even more to me. It showed me from the sparkle in their eyes and their cheeky smiles, that we are doing a great job as parents. That is a memory I hope to keep forever, and add to, because there are plenty of things far bigger than the Grand Canyon and we have more than enough light all around us. Peace.