I headed to bed early last night because I have either a cold or allergies and felt crummy.
About 9:15, I sensed that Walker was present. Since he rarely wears shoes in the house, it’s easy for him to kind of slip around unnoticed, which suits him fine. My ears detected a subtle clearing of his throat, and I asked him what was up.
This inquiry led to an hour long search for a picture he remembered my having of him and his preschool class. Preschool for Walker was from age five weeks to age five years, but he was very specific about this picture. It had pictures of the team that taught him everything he knew before going on to big school and also some of his classmates.
He named them all. There was Eddie, the huge black man who looked like he missed a good opportunity to play pro ball, and Corky who drove an old VW Beetle. We all still call them “Corky Cars” which was Walker’s name for them at age three. There was Jenny Gates who taught self-help skills and let me know when it was time for potty training, and accomplished the task, for the most part, in one week of intentional monitoring. There was Debby, oft married, but bright and enthusiastic who was the principal at Harwood Center. It was a golden time for us.
Walker could tell me the exact location the picture was taken, in a gymnasium that I barely remember. He cited the names of all those wonderful teachers. He probably could have told me the day of the week it was taken on, but I couldn’t find the picture in any of the logical places it should be. As I fretted, hoping to find it and go back to bed, I realized again not only how much Walker remembers of what has gone on in his life, practically from birth, but that he treasures those memories in a way that most folks don’t appreciate until they reach old age.
As Walker has become more confident about taking part in the family when we are all gathered together, it has become evident that his memories of his childhood exceed those of any of the rest of us. Once he begins citing details, one or the other of us will remember them too, and realize that he never errs in his memory. The same can’t be said for the rest of us.
The genetic mix up that has made Walker limited in so many ways has also blessed him and all of us in other ways. Our family memories are safe with him, in rich detail. He remembers some of the bad times, like getting off the plane, on a Monday night, returning from Mexico, and promptly throwing up. Mostly, though, he remembers the closeness he had with his sisters and the fun times when we were all together.
I hope all of us will treasure our family being close, even if it is sometimes really annoying. I hope we will take time to listen to each other’s stories and Walker’s too. I hope he continues to want to share his memories with the rest of us.