Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Remember The Past Like It Was Tomorrow.

It's 11am, the doors and windows are open and I'm sitting here on my recliner, sipping my 2nd coffee and enjoying my 3rd powdered mini donut. It's already 89F/32c and there isn't a hint of a cloud in the clear blue sky. A gentle breeze is wafting the nearby palm tree fronds and generating a pleasant sound from the neighbour's wind chimes.

Yes I'm living the life. Not everyone's life, of course, as plenty of retirees like to be a tad more active than I am. I'm just lazy really and retirement helps me fulfil that dream !

Given all this free time, I really wish I had a better memory and could recall events and stories from my yute yute, middle yute and even my late yute. But I can't. I fear that like the rest of my physical body and my mental attitude, my memory is retired (and lazy) too.

My mother was one of twelve (Catholic y'know) and if it was one thing she and her siblings loved to do, it was to have a good old natter every time two or more of them got together.

(Nattering by herself was saved for much later in her life and precipitated a move to the nursing home !).

If I was present during these nattering sessions, I'd have been in a corner somewhere, listening but keeping out of the spotlight. This was where the seeds of my shyness were germinating, to fully develop and blossom over the years into a lifelong character trait. It wasn't helped when one aunt or uncle would suddenly realise I was in the room and draw attention to me by saying......."Ian's a bit quiet, isn't he ? "

(Bizarrely even my parents would say this from time to time !).

I dreaded having the eyes of everyone on me, family or not, but it didn't usually last long as my mother would invariably say "oh he's just shy" and the sibling nattering would resume without my input.

The point is that these sessions nearly always provided awesome stories that I would love to remember now. It seems to me now that all my aunts and uncles had didactic memories (not a hereditary gene I'm sad to say) and I DO remember listening enthralled by stories from their yutes which seemed like events from Little House On The Prairie to me, so far were they removed from my experiences at the time.

I never thought that at the time of course as I'd never read the books and Michael Landon hadn't been invented yet.

They all came from a family farm out beyond the small village of Dervock in Norn Iron. Actually calling Dervock a village is granting it a size it doesn't deserve...townland maybe. A couple of shops, a post office, a church and a petrol station. Actually the petrol station may have opened a long time after I left the area but anyway, that was Dervock.

Feel free to 'visit' it on Street View and amazingly, this takes you right up our mile long farm lane and stops just before turning into the yard...which was private and so a no-go area for the Google camera car. You should be able to move around within the panel below but if not, clicking on "View Larger Map" should start up Google Maps and take you to the interactive screen where you can go up and down our lane. Technology eh...........

When they were in their yutes, these relations walked daily to school in nearby Ballymoney and I seem to recall them saying that was a 4 mile walk each way, partly over the fields. Putting locations into Google Earth gives 4.8 miles from farm to school but of course this distance calculation uses only roads ! Stupid logical software.

They told lots of very amusing stories about many of these trips and although spread out widely in ages so that I donno how many of them would've been on these school walks at any one time, it must've been quite a sight to see them making their merry way to school.

Sadly although I remember there WERE amusing stories told around the peat fires of an evening, I don't remember what they were about !

This doesn't worry me as being the early onset of Alzheimer's or senility or anything as I couldn't remember those stories a few days after hearing them. Maybe that was down to my shyness and I was more focused on staying away from being included in the discussions or maybe I've just got a very narrowly focused memory. Like I know the lyrics from most songs of the 60's and who sang those songs and even the names of the band members......but what I did last Monday night.......not a clue.

If I'd known what fascinating family history I was forgetting back then, I might have paid more attention and tried to find a spot for some of it between the lyrics for "I'm A Believer" and "Build Me Up Buttercup."

As if to rub salt in my wounds, those remaining family members still had awesome memories when I was last over in Norn Iron and I never bothered to note down any stories in any way shape or recording device.

My loss. My bad.

This is only a personal observation of course, but despite their much more limited history span, Americans tend to care more for memories and recording them than we do in the UK. This also applies to family histories and this may be more to do with America being a relatively new immigrant populated country. Ancestry sites are doing great business and talking with friends here, they can tell me more about their parents, grandparents and beyond than most friends in the UK....can.......do.

Again remember, personal observation so please don't hammer me in the comments section !

My parents are both dead and I think only 2 aunts and 2 uncles are still alive (from the original 7 and 5) so maybe this summer I might visit with the uncles who both live in England and not that far from me at that. My phone has an excellent recording app so I'd not need to stress myself out and tax my retired brain by trying to remember anything they tell me.

I just need to remember to go there !

History and future blog posts need me to do so.

3 comments:

Jennyta said...

This is why I keep nagging my dad to write his second book. Once previous generations have passed on, their memories have gone with them.

Daphne said...

I love the country lane - gorgeous! And I love those stories that you do remember! More, please.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

You'd better go now, before it's too late! And yes, take a recording device - I dunno, an iPhone or something.

I'm in the process of scanning the family photo albums, which are a treasure trove of memories. I remember a lot more when I have a picture to prompt me! And my mother, bless her, natterer and remembererer as she is, is not taking care of the photies. The books are all bent and damp and she's even ripped one or two right off the pages!!

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