Entertainment and Sports

Why I Remember

Some memories are tragic, which is why we remember.

By Kevin Somers
Published November 08, 2006

I remember the first time I saw my wife. I was working at a restaurant in Toronto when she burst into the kitchen looking for ashtrays on her first shift. Her section was full and she was all business.

I remember thinking, I'd like to get to know her. I had to ask her out three times before she caved. I'm nothing if not persistent.

I remember when our first daughter, Erin, was born nine years ago. Susan, the doctor, nurse, and intern were all female and more comfortable with childbirth than I, though Susan didn't seem too comfortable.

I was rubbing her shoulders, telling her how great everything was, and hoping not to pass out when the doctor said, "Come down here, Dad. You can see the head." I declined, but everyone insisted.

I thought she meant that Susan was sufficiently dilated and I might catch a glimpse of Erin's scalp, so I crept down for a peek. My daughter's entire purple head was sticking out and it was awful. Her eyes were closed and she was writhing and struggling for freedom.

It looked like a scene from Alien. I screamed, "Oh, my God!" and ran to a chair feeling feint. All the women, including Susan, laughed. In the post-delivery photos, I look worse than Mommy.

I don't remember when my mother-in-law arrived; I was sound asleep on the bed while mother and baby sat in a chair. My in-laws, regrettably, never forget.

I remember the first time I saw Claire, baby number two; she had already been delivered, washed, and swaddled. She was beautiful and I was two years wiser.

I remember Erin's first goal in soccer. After a couple of nice moves, she fired home a beauty, and squealed with delight when the ball went in.

I remember when Claire's preschool teacher told us she had overheard our little angel, sweet as a pea and only three, singing Fred Eaglesmith quietly to herself: "Time to get a gun! / That's what I been thinking. / I could afford one / If I did just a little less drinking."

I remember the first time I saw Wendel, our lovely old dog. She was the saddest canine in The Humane Society. She stood at the back of her cage with her head lowered and her tail tucked between her legs. She looked so miserable we took her immediately. Thirteen years later and our Charlie Brown dog keeps getting crazier, but better.

I use the library a lot and remember being shocked and appalled when I first discovered how often the books are willfully damaged and defaced. The shock has worn off but the appall has intensified. What's wrong with people?

More than I remember, I forget birthdays and anniversaries. It's part of the charm.

Who can forget Air India, Columbine High School, 9/11, Madrid, Bali, Baghdad, or Beslan? The atrocities keep coming and often the targets are children. God and humanity are disgraced by the cowards every time.

I remember where I was for the OJ Simpson verdict. I remember being sad when I heard about Lady Di. I remember when Henderson scored and Gretzky got traded. Je me Souviens, whatever that means.

I remember when "whatever" wasn't annoying. I remember my first concert; Max Webster opening for Rush (circa. 1978). I remember when my niece Jessica was born. It seems like yesterday, but she's a student at McMaster University now.

I remember the first time George W. Bush ran for president. I thought, There's no way this nitwit will get a single vote. It shows what I know; I thought the same thing when L $ was running for mayor last time.

I remember my old neighbour, Ted. He was a World War II veteran and amongst the most decent people I've ever met. He lived modestly in the same small house for almost 50 years.

A tail gunner in the South Pacific, Ted told of getting lost on one mission and being terrified as they inadvertently flew over Japanese positions. One day we looked at his pictures and he pointed out friends who never made it home.

Some memories are tragic, which is why we remember.

Kevin Somers is a Hamilton writer.


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