Surprise Memory


I was cleaning a drawer today, on a crazed hunt to find matches for the socks that had become separated from their mates months ago. Sometimes, the matches reappear in a future batch of laundry, and the individual socks linger in the drawer, one buried and the other floating near the surface. Once in awhile, I am motivated enough by the mess that results from my daily “stirring” of the drawer’s contents that I take the time to sit and straighten things out.

This morning in my straightening, I came across a pair of socks that I put in the drawer for safe-keeping, a pair that I frequently forget I have saved. It is a pair of teeny tiny baby socks that I received before C was born, 18 or so years ago. Each time I come across them, they catch me by surprise. The socks are so tiny that it’s difficult to believe he actually wore them in his first months. But he did.

Each time I stumble across these socks, I am reminded how quickly time passes. I finger the soft material as I mentally measure the passage of time in the exponential growth of my children. I click through each of their stages, from infancy to now.

I see smiles and a hint of mischief in their eyes, feel the warmth of their tiny hands in mine, remember random moments like how each of them would lick soap off their hands when I washed them after supper. I can hear their little voices, their footsteps, their cries. The socks bring back images and memories of so many of the things that have happened in our lives: the funny things they said and did, the experiences we had, the life struggles we faced. All of these things we did together.

Each new rediscovery of these socks is a gift. I find the socks, Itake a walk down memory lane, and then I place them back in the drawer where I can find them again in a month, a year, or two. Perhaps when I discover these socks again in six months or a year, when C is off at college, the walk down memory lane will be even more bittersweet.


[Image is a photo of the socks in the hand of the child who once wore them.]


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