How far back can your recall? For me, I believe my memories go back to age three, because I am able to remember playing with my grandfather. I was 3 ½ years old when he died. The pungent odor of a cigar transports me back to that time, and my mother has confirmed that he did, indeed, smoke cigars.
I remember sitting in a chair near the window in the left front corner of his living room. (or was it the right?) Was the aroma from the smoke-infused curtains imagined, or does my subconscious hold the actual moments of a little girl hiding within the folds of the fabric?
I would giggle with delight as Papa would carefully back into his seat, pretending not to notice his tiny granddaughter seated proudly on his chair. Because I have that memory, I now play that game with my own grandchild. Someday I will tell him the story of the inventor of that game—a survivor of World War I, the Great Depression, and father of six children.
My parents purchased the building lot adjacent to my grandparents’ home from my great uncle, Pat Cooney, so I was the lucky cousin who could climb aboard a chair near the kitchen window, wave, and perhaps play peek-a-boo with them every day.
And I was the cousin who was instructed to bring Papa to our house for dinner that wintry night in January. He had been too tired to accompany my grandmother earlier in the day, saying he would come later after he rested at bit. But he never answered my soft knocks on his door. That was the last time my tiny feet ran next door to see my grandfather. Do I remember that evening, or do I know the story because it was told to me so often? I will never know, because some memories can never be retrieved.