Images Forever Forged in Memory

Caleb Pirtle blogged about five historical events that changed his life.   His blog jump-started my memory of images.  A photograph taken in a split second by the mind.  An image uploaded permanently in my memory.  I have a few.

Holding my daddy’s hand when he was dying.  I thought: I’ll always be able to know exactly how his hands look.  I only have to stretch open my own and there I have it.  Identical bone structure.  When my first grandchild was born, I opened his tiny fist beside my own. DNA had struck again.  I’ll tell him of this identity some day.

I saw a young woman in Amsterdam on a cool summer morning.  Wrapped in a full length coat and heavy muffler, she passed me on a bridge over a canal.  Her head was hairlessly smooth.  Did she have cancer?  Was it a new style?  I thought it odd that she didn’t have her head covered too if for no other reason than she was cold.

The birth of a granddaughter.  I’ve been present at the births of many animals because I’ve always owned an assortment of them.  Tiny kittens in their gray marbled birthbags, puppies, ponies, rabbits, calves, the thin cracking of a diminutive bird egg, visible rather than audible.  I have been moved by each birth.  But the emergence of a small human head, the crown wet with dark red hair – I choked and couldn’t utter a syllable.   My thoughts a prayer:  Please, dear God, please let her be healthy and normal.

The breaking of dawn at the Taj Mahal.  The guide and driver picked us up while darkness still absorbed the light.  “You must see the Taj at the breaking of the light.  No one else will be there.  You will have the Taj to yourselves.”  Mosaic designs of colored marble broke open like jewels, glittering against the silence and softness of dawn.

A whale breaking the water too near our boat.  Quite cold on the deck of the vessel, Dixie and I stood by the side of the railing.  Incredible.  A huge head and an un- proportionately tiny eye.  Click.  An image mentally embedded.  I was so shocked I didn’t realize how dangerously close the whale was.  I felt like Mrs. Ahab without the megalomania.

A  man and woman holding hands as they jumped to their deaths on 9-11.  I watched the Today show when Matt Lauer received a phone call that a plane had flown into one of the Towers of the World Trade Center.  I don’t recall which TV channel because I jumped from one to another as the horror unfolded, but I caught an image of a man dressed in black pants and a white shirt, sleeves rolled up to his elbows.  He grasped the hand of a woman as they fell toward the earth.  The inferno blasting flames behind them.  I never saw that image on TV again.  But I saw the second plane fly what seemed so very slowly into the second Tower.  I couldn’t believe the plane moved no faster.  I’ve seen the image many times since and now realize that my mind was too frozen to absorb the scene.  The plane was actually flying very fast.  My mind wasn’t.

These are but a few.  The album of my memory.  Secure and dynamic.

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