Memory

Some years ago, I found myself with no food in the house and no car. That wouldn’t have been a big deal except I also had our seven-year-old son, and Cub Foods was nearly five miles away.

I told my son that we had to ride our bicycles, which understandably alarmed him. He had ridden around the neighborhood with me and with his friends, and now and again he and his younger brother and I would ride to the beach at Wirth Lake, maybe a mile away. That was it.

At seven, having ridden mostly in the back seat of cars and not paying attention anyway, he had no idea how far much of anything was from home. As far as he was concerned, Cub Foods could’ve been just the other side of Wirth Park or in the next county.

The route to Cub Foods was along an ugly, busy street, and the weather was hot. The ride seemed to take forever, and perhaps would have if we hadn’t had to get back home for our youngest’s delivery from pre-school and before the frozen stuff we bought melted.

So we did it, me slowly and him with remarkable fortitude for a seven-year-old. Finally back home, my son could hardly wait to tell his mother and little brother when they showed up. Having led him for every pedal stroke, I had some idea how much effort it had taken for him to make that trip and decided I was witnessing the genesis of a family story, like the ones my family used to tell on holidays about the time somebody or other did something wonderful or awful, and wasn’t that something?

Eventually my son had told everybody he knew, and the event began to fade from dinner conversation and my mind. Then years later and twenty-five hundred miles away in Chico, my son, now taller and smarter than I, asked me if I remembered our trek.

That ride to Cub Foods had been a significant father-and-son episode for me, and I did indeed remember it. I was tickled pink, which takes quite a bit of tickling for me, that the ordeal was actually turning into a family story, apparently as important to him as to me. Very satisfying.

Then just before I started writing this, I mentioned that ride to my son, and—lest I get the idea that my perceptions have some lasting importance or meaning—he said he had no recollection. I was dumbfounded, probably not all that unusual, but this time I realized it. No recollection! It must be hormones.

I’d been thinking all along that this epic adventure would live on in the annals of the Porter family, and I suppose it will, but only because I want it to and I guess that’s what it was all about anyway.
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Posted Thursday, May 28th, 2009 under fathering, Uncategorized.

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