May 6 • 3M

Memories - Marcus 5.4.22

Where I try to get a 9-year old to remember things

Steve Peterson
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Occasionally, I get in a mood where I worry about my age and the increasing likelihood that my elders will pass onward over the coming years and I won’t have collected enough detail from them. Some go too quick to even ask the right questions. I think back to my grandfathers who took so much history with them when they died.

For my boys, I annoy them with a recorder dropped beneath their noses, questions put to them asking them to tell me a new recollection, a first memory, good one, bad. I can then come back to them, give them the “remember when you told me …” Using oral history and documentation to lock it in so that these things won’t be forgotten.

Marcus’ grandfather, affectionately called Nonno in our house, passed away very suddenly just a few weeks back. My boy has been slow to process this, so I’ve been attempting to use storytelling to help him ease into the mourning process. This was how we started.

ME

Okay, it's May 4, 2022. May the Fourth be with you? Haha Star Wars joke. I'm sitting here with Marcus. It's about 6:45 on a Wednesday and I'm working on a project writing a little bit about Nonna. And I wanted to ask Marcus a question. Say hi, Marcus.

MARCUS

Hi.

ME

You're saying hi to me? Really? And I'm just recording it. I thought that would be kind of fun, right? So Marcus, I want to ask you a question. So I want you to think for a moment… but what is your favorite memory of Nonno?

MARCUS

Long pause

Ummm, well kind of multiple memories like when we take walks on the beach. We used to.

ME

That's one of your favorite memories?

MARCUS

Yeah.

ME

What did you like about it?

MARCUS

Um. We could always, like, listen to the water and I love feeling the sand.

ME

Okay, that's very nice. Think back deep in your mind, I know I've asked you questions like this in the past, what is your earliest memory of Nonna?

MARCUS

Long pause.

ME

Take your time.

MARCUS

Another very long pause.

It’s hard to think of one kind’a.

ME

I'm just trying to think of, like, when you think back, like, I remember the first time I met Nonno. Obviously you were babies, in you met him when you were born. So doesn't really work that way. But I just think back, like, what is the earliest thought you know I have of him. Do you have one like that?

MARCUS

No, not… not really. It’s hard for me to think of one.

ME

Okay. That's fine. Anything else you want to say?

MARCUS

Pause.

No.

ME

You're good?

MARCUS

Yeah.

ME

All right. Then say goodnight to the recording.

MARCUS

Bye

ME

Bye.


Now, I can take these brief recollections and continue to probe, reminding that even in mourning, good memories are there.