I have a terrible memory at the best of times so why, you may ask, have I chosen to write about my earliest one? Just how far back can I go?
Despite having a shocking memory there are those moments that just stick. One such memory is of something that happened to me when I was about 5 years old. It’s probably not as far back as many of you can go and probably not technically my earliest memory but it certainly did stand out for me.
My mother had explained to me that she was going to visit an aunt. Letty her name was. I had never heard my mum mention this aunt before and I had certainly never met her. I was in and out of hospital a lot as a kid so I was familiar with all the hospitals in the area. The one I was taken to to see Letty wasn’t so much a hospital as a care home. It was private, beautiful with elaborate gardens. The lighting wasn’t as harsh as a hospital normally would be. The nurses weren’t wearing NHS uniforms. There was hospital beds though. That was when I was introduced to Letty. As I said I had never met this woman before in my life. Mum seemed to know her real well though. She was incredibly sick. She had an oxygen mask on and kept drifting in and out of sleep. Mum spoke to the carers but I watched Letty, comfortable, clean and surrounded by people.
Obviously mum had just made it her point to say hello to an old relative as she was easing away from life, perhaps not a relative at all but a friend of my grandmother. Either way having never met before I was taken to this strangely caring, friendly place. Now that I’m older I realise it was probably a hospice. The reason this particular memory stands out to me is because it was all so strange as a five year old. As a child you see things in black and white for the most part. I had never before witnessed death and age walk hand in hand with smiles and comfort.
We may have only just met that one time but Letty certainly had a huge impact on me. I could ask my mother exactly who she was and why she was there but sometimes it’s best to allow that little bit of mystery to remain. I sincerely hope that little girl clutching a grey rabbit brought some comfort to you Letty. I do remember it made you smile.
What about you? What was your earliest memory?