Why Did My Brain Remember & Forget?


Where is he headed, What is he carrying along, and Why is he walking away?


How often have you taken the time to “frame” an event with its lead-up and  aftermath?

Like, what were you doing, what errand were you checking off your list, who did you linger to chat with at the grocery before that storm hit, your sister-in-law went into labor, the teen rear-ended your corvette at a stoplight?

Maybe after the rain stopped you found a sopping wet kitten who became a permanent member of the family, or you happened upon an old city directory at a tag sale you never planned to stop at, then sis-in-law popped out unexpected twins so you headed back to the baby store, and the reckless teen driver was the son of your high school crush!

So often a turning point day has multiple events of significance embedded within the same 24 hour stretch. We tend to fixate on what caused the most emotional stir and let the other things fall to the wayside.

It’s amazing how we can recall the big picture and let the detail slip our minds.


Take a walk back in time and see what you can dig up with some before and after framing…I was shocked that I had forgotten these two very different events happened on the same day. If I were a tidy-type, I would have thrown out that pile of used up day planners long ago–and likely lost this key point of the bigger story for years–maybe forever. Since I am not (tidy) and thus had not (let go of them) I tripped on this revelation.

That inspired some other “revisiting” and made several stories even richer! Even Mom’s Mama had a good time recalling putting off a trip to the library the day before an unexpected blizzard hit. Her books ended up being several dollars overdue! It was easy to laugh about it because the local paper had run a feature story about the “snow storm amnesty” the library would be offering on overdue books for the entire month of February!

I found a rather startling example recently. I had completely separated the events of a certain day into two very distinct memories–each exclusive of the other.  I had totally forgotten how the two occurred on the same day. We had planned a big Graduation Party for our daughter on a Saturday a full two months after she had ceremoniously received her diploma. We wanted to be sure to go far enough into summer so our party wouldn’t have to compete with any of her classmate’s. Then, we purposefully scooted it out a little farther into early August and made it a farewell-fest for all the Grads before they parted ways for College.

The Weather Channel was forecasting blue sky perfection for the day. I’d watched it hourly from the first moment the 10 day outlook was broadcast. For a perfect party, I was banking on perfect weather. I hoped to do the whole party pool-side for the kids, with their noise, salsa drips and “music” all outside. The adults could take refuge in the air conditioned, upholstered seating surfaces and non-offensive music laden land of “indoors.”

Three days before the big party, I had a general idea of the head count to expect. The weather was still looking great. I had all the beverages purchased and stacked in the garage. Friday night, we would load the old reliable extra fridge with all the pop, beer, and bottled water it would hold. I had a full battle plan in place including a prep schedule planned for all the food (of course I had to cater it myself…let’s just say I’m a little Martha Stewarty at times). I had already struck a deal with one of my best friends and a couple of neighbors to loan me some space in their garage fridges for the platters and trays I would have neatly Saran-wrapped ahead of time.

The weather forecast was holding up. It hadn’t wavered a bit for seven days. I had completed all my runs to Costco and Party City for Purple and Gold plates, napkins and disposable forks and spoons in heavy silver plastic that looked like the real stuff from a distance.

All was clicking along. Right on schedule. Spit Spot.

This stuff was all listed on the pages of one of my old day-planners unearthed recently. I’d added notes and had my customary sticky notes with assorted lists, and of course, the main sticky with the list of lists that I needed to make still…the count-down, the contingency plans, the last moment to-dos and errands. Everything within my control was under control. And if it wasn’t something I could control, I had a plan B, and C firmly outlined and listed on my Post-it notes.

Everything was in place, ready to happen–and then what I hadn’t planned for happened. The weather was perfect as I answered the phone call, only to hear news that came from out of the blueness of that clear sky. A dear cousin had unexpectedly died. The funeral service would be held Saturday. Graduation party Saturday.

Now, it’s not my intention to be callous sounding, because I clearly remember each event and what happened. But there was a huge partition in my head between the two gatherings, separated as it turned out by only 4 hours real-time. Until I found the lists, the schedule, and the notations on my old day-planner, my mind had disconnected the two events. Even though the Grad party a had been planned as a celebration of my daughter’s graduation, and a send off for her and all of her classmates, it was also became a way for our family to gather and share stories and food and happiness and grief on a perfectly mild, sunny day, without anyone going to any extra fuss.

So what did I find? A pile of old date books, yes. But more importantly, I found a link, some serendipity that I had walked through without noticing in the moment. One party, two emotionally opposite events, three reasons to gather, under the comfort of a perfectly blue sky.

Totally worth remembering.