My Earliest Memory Is…

(Write to Done – Unmissable articles on writing challenged me to write a personal story of 350 words or less.

My directions are: Open the story with the phrase, “My earliest memory is…” )

My earliest memory is  lying on my father’s barrel chest, discovering its cushion of softness.  As a baby, I ran my hand over wiry strands and reveled in the tickles.  Amidst welcome newness, I sensed a pleasant and safe masculinity that would imprint my heart and brand a lifetime of love for this gentle, loving father.

Perhaps because I tickled him, my father laughed. I felt the vibrations reverberate through his chest.  It messaged a signal of happiness.  It confused me because there was no one else around. This time, there was no mom, no siblings, and no pets in the room.  In what may have been my first sense of “me”, I discovered I could create.

At that moment, I bonded with this man.  I laughed back at him, clutched his chest and heard his yelp of pain.  I was confused again and surprised that I had created an even different response from this gentle adult.

When I was in my 40s, I asked Dad if he remembered this incident.  He didn’t.  Having had four children before me, this precious minute had joined a myriad of other savouries in the mixing bowl of family minutiae.

My memory, however, has kept the feelings fresh.  As a woman now in my 60s, I enjoy recalling the feeling of being a baby lying on my father’s chest and swimming in his welcome presence.  My crib had been set up at one end of mom and dad’s small bedroom.  It had been morning and mom was downstairs making breakfast. Dad, who worked away from home many months of the year, must have gathered me, his new baby girl, from my crib and placed me on his huge warm chest.

How old was I?  Old enough to sense a father’s love.  Not old enough, however, to realize how he had set a standard for life.

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37 thoughts on “My Earliest Memory Is…

  1. Amy,

    You have such a wonderful ability to transport your reader to another realm. You did that to me again.As I reflected on your post, I could not help but think back to what my earliest memory is. And they take me to my mother’s lap, her feeding me one mouthful at a time and the sheer feeling of warmth and comfort by her presence…..

    Your memory as a girl is about your Dad and my memory as a boy is of my Mom. Is there some genetic disposition in this, I wonder?

    Loved your post as always.

    Shakti

    • Shakti, I know there are many who don’t have such good memories. It’s a shame how they struggle through life. Thank you for sharing your memory. Sometimes when I feel desolate and alone, I envision crawling into the lap of my Beloved and sit so I am held. Your memory reminds me of that comfort. Isn’t it marvelous how such an ordinary act of caring has such a profound and life-lasting effect?

  2. Gosh I’m crossing paths with a lot of magical writers with oodles of talent.

    What a wonderful memory to possess. I have some of my own children, pushing themselves to look at me from where they were laying. My own memories as a child…..practically non-existent. Most of them are through the tellings of others.
    That’s not a bad thing, just true.

    Oh, but I love that you have this one and that you were able to share it with us……in 350 words no less!
    Well done, you!

    • That reminds me, Mel. I’ve often wondered – does a baby sense a wet nurse versus its mother? Does that distancing affect a baby for life? A woman I’ve known, skeptical and suspicious, was sent away to school throughout her school life. She has a way of keeping people at bay, not accepting love. I suspect she has never allowed herself to be vulnerable. Know what she loves to do? Redecorate and make beautiful. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

    • Hi Linda. Oh I miss you and keeping up with my friends. I will put a day aside and visit and read and read and read. I’ve got books to read in preparation for a healing workshop I’m going to in December. I’ve been loaned “Dying to Be Me” by Anita Moorjani who journeyed to the other side and returned. I had time for so many months and now that I’ve added regular walking and aquafit, suddenly all kinds of other interests/invitations have surfaced.

      Aren’t we supposed to hibernate in the winter? 😀

  3. Beautiful, this is an incredible story. I love that the emotion was so powerful, the love, and the memory are still there today. It is amazing what is transferred to us as young children.

    • Yes, Dee, it is amazing. I like to remember (and often forget) that we can still impact people deeply today with such simple gestures as a smile or look of understanding. Funny how the big gestures are often outshone by the small ones.

  4. My earliest memory is being wrapped in a blanket and carried across the delivery room to be measured and weighed. As the nurse picked me up and began to walk to the scale I could hear the doctor telling my mother that I was fine, that I seemed perfectly normal, and would be returned to her just as soon as I’d been measured, weighed, and cleaned him up a bit. That’s when I opened my eyes…and the first thing I saw was a large, back-lighted glass above a small table with a scale on it. I could see in the glass a reflection of us moving toward it, and also a darkened view of the doctor behind us…standing next to the bed talking to my mother. I then remember being laid on the table, the blanket being removed, and then being rubbed with something that felt warm and a little scratchy. I can also remember my feet being pressed with an ink pad, and then on to a piece of paper. That’s when the memory ended.

    I’ve only recounted that incident once before…to my brother, who told me that it wasn’t possible to remember anything that early in life. He was wrong about that…but I took his advise and never mentioned it again. Until now.

    P.S. I still have that piece of paper…the hospital birth certificate…with my foot prints pressed upon it. 😉

    • I have shivers, William. Truly. I believe you! What a scene you portrayed in your comment! I’ve known other people who have had memories soon after birth, but the detail you remember is phenomenal. I am wont to add, dear man, that the folks I’ve known with those very early memories are obviously creative. They are usually non-conformist and not too caught up about what the rest of the world thinks of them. While it can look like sophistication or aloofness, it’s really a protective shield.

      I can see why you’d be selective about the telling – it’s too precious to place under insensitive microscopes!

  5. What a wonderful, clear memory to carry with you, Amy ~ your description and the analysis of your baby comprehension is just charming! I love that this was the first time that you discovered a sense of a creative ‘you’ and the phrase ‘swimming in his welcome presence’ is just so all~encompassing. I find this fascinating because, like Mel, I have very few early memories.

    • I’m sorry to hear that memories of those early discoveries are not available to some, Jacqueline. I really have so many from the first home I’ve known. I went back to that site about 20 years ago and it was unrecognizable. Distances that took us 1/2 a day to travel, I covered in just over an hour. All so out of proportion. But the feelings live on!

  6. Hi Amy … I fall out of your ambit or William’s for that matter … I think my first memory is probably when I was 5 or so – perhaps triggered together with falling from a beam, and clonking my forehead on a crib corner – nasty skull crack … blood dripping onto stool … doctor coming out – stitching me up … and all’s well that ends well – brains back in – no damage done .. but memories of our nursery and that end of the house … subsequently pulled down for a new extension .. it was the oldest part of the house – a dairy with a piece of wood in it marked 1848 – very very cold apparently.

    I’d love to have those sorts of memories … but I’m sure our imagination can conjure warmth of feelings … loved your story though … great read – happy days and memories … Hilary

    • If it’s true that I’m on old soul, perhaps my veil had thinned and memory was easier. Very early, likely 3 or 4, I “knew” there was another me far, far away and we were inseparable. I would do a chant which “took” me into connectedness with that soul. How does one gain that sense, living in the wilds of Alberta, with no media to instill ideas and the only time we used the radio (battery economy) was to listen to the BBC news?!

  7. Your post reminded me of a similar incident. I often think about the time when my father got angry at me because I had traced a picture. I was about nine at the time, and I really wanted to impress my parents with my ability to create a likeness. Fortunately, my act of tracing a picture was caught by my father, and he didn’t talk to me for one whole day…and then I didn’t trace anything ever. When I asked my father whether he remembered the incident, he told me that he doesn’t. It hurt…a little…because that memory is very precious to me. Then I reasoned with myself and came to the conclusion that a child’s mental picture of any event is very simple and focused, and in absence of other distractions, it’s very important too. For the parents however, the interactions with the child are one of the many things that occupy their mind.

    • A wise father who taught two important lessons in one! Shafali, would you be so good at using and conjuring your own skills for your incredible art if he hadn’t intervened? I love hearing these memories from people. Thanks for commenting Shafali!

      • You are absolutely right. I know that I wouldn’t have learned to draw nor to NOT cheat (not a great trait in my current environs, I assure you – these years have been really difficult for us because we refused to compromise our values,) if my father hadn’t been angry with me that day. When I look at all those drawing books that give kids an opportunity to trace and draw…I feel sick – because those publishers are trying to make money off the parents by stealing their kids’ ability to draw.

  8. Pingback: Only the rotten apples fall from the tree… | Wondering Rose

  9. You are an gifted writer, Amy Aunty. I do not know how, but every time you write something personal, It touches all of our heart. My dad is a simple, silent and gentle man. Till now he has never ever stopped me from doing something or shouted at me for my mistakes. Although sometimes it worries me that, he does not express much. But yes, my family members say that, I am closest to him. And while saying so, I do realize that, it also increases my responsibility as a son. As I know he is not going to express what makes him happy or what really hurts him 🙂 Thanks a lot for this beautiful post Amy Aunty.

    • When he was in his 80s, I asked my father what has made him happiest in his life. He looked at me with twinkling eyes and said, “Peace and quiet.” We both laughed because I was always asking him questions!

      I think offspring often neglect to ask parents questions like this and they seem to appreciate the interest a great deal. We kids can take them for granted… We treat them as though they’ll be by our side forever.

      So, if it is a respectful thing to do in your culture, I encourage you to ask your parents about their hearts. They may bubble over with love so be careful! 😀

  10. I am in awe of this powerful memory you have Amy!
    I think I would love to write a post starting with…My earliest memory…but that requires serious thinking and just does not seem on tap as yours so obviously was…beautifully written and the love and connection with your father comes roaring through…thank you for sharing this Amy…

    • I do have blank spots, but the memories I have are very vivid. I teased my mom who never like housework. I told her the reason I went from my crib to walking is because I couldn’t bear dirty floors. 😀 It must have had something to do with me skipping the crawl stage. I still cannot bear to be on grit. 😀

    • Two’s good, Leslie! It’s better than having all those early years a blank. My early memories are like someone pulled the cord, the blinds shot up and I got a snapshot before the blinds fell down again. I have bunches of those. I was often “alone” – i.e. people were around but no one else was sharing the experience that had me in some form of awe. That’s why I was hoping Dad remembered the incident since I was on his acres of hairy chest!

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