how a memory works

after skiing in smaller groups all day, we took one run as a whole family (mom, dad, brother G, and sister J (sorry E, you weren’t born yet)). it was J’s first time on the trail, but G and i, having been down that black diamond numerous times before, were racing and showing off for sister J who was methodically swishing her way down the mountain.

it was springtime and the sun turned the snow into slush. i zigged. my ski zaged. i flipped. my knee did something it wasn’t supposed to. i don’t remember the pain but i distinctly remember laying there wondering how i got there. skis were removed (mine, my parents) and placed in x’s around me as a slight form of protection while we waited for the ski patrol.

riding backwards downhill strapped into a toboggan was more terrifying than skiing a double black diamond.

the next thing i remembered was waking up and remarking how my knee felt cold. i looked down and my leg was immbolized in a full brace with just the knee cap exposed, hence the chilliness.

the next next thing i remember is wearing it at school. seeing as i was in the third grade, we walked everywhere in lines meaning there was always a huge gap between me and the next person — hey, you try walking when you can’t bend your knee — and it was the most mortifying thing. actually, come to think of it, the unevenly spaced lines might have been out-embarrassed by the moment(s) when i had to go to the nurse to use the bathroom because i couldn’t work the brace by myself. (again, it was third grade, people).

to this day (knock on wood), it’s the only serious sports injury i’ve had and seeing as i’ve recently returned to the land of skiing and snowboarding, i asked my mom just last week what her memory was of this momentous occasion.

she said, and i quote, “It was late in the date and the slope was slushy. We were on a black diamond, you fell and twisted your knee. In a week you were all well and playing basketball.”

there are so many things about her statement that don’t coincide with my memory that, umm, wow, where do i even start? (1) three sentences? i know we were on text message, but this was A BIG MOMENT in my young life. at least give me four sentences to round out a paragraph. (2) a week? a week is all it took for me to recover? (3) basketball? oh yeah, i guess i did play that sport once upon a time. i haven’t played in who knows how long because i was only ever good at stealing the ball. shooting? naw. passing? eh. dribbling? ha. jumping? yeah, i didn’t get those mumford height genes that all three of my siblings did.

memories are an odd thing.

to me, it was/is a HUGE memory. i was young, fearless (case in point, see brother G’s comments), and unaccustomed to injury. it impacted my life beyond the slope. it lingered and gave me a story to tell. i felt brave and scared all zipped up in a ski parka. that event remains a startling (if incomplete) image in my brain.

to my mom, it wasn’t a big deal. i was out of commission for only a short while and i made a complete recovery. her brain pushed it aside to save room for, you know, her bigger memories like, say, those four times she gave birth. those memories alone ought to obliterate any miniscule memories of a child’s minor injury. granted, she did remember the event (albeit in clipped, sparse detail), which means it must have been somewhat memorable.

maybe, just maybe, my memory is overinflated and her version is the accurate one.

i guess it all depends upon which perspective you’re coming from.

have you ever had a memory repeated to you that changed the way you viewed it? it’s kind of mind blowing, isn’t it?

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4 Responses to “how a memory works”

  1. lindagrimes Says:

    Memory IS odd. I’m always amazed at how differently my brothers and I remember the same events from our childhood. Makes me wonder if the “truth” is something different than any of us remember.

    • abby mumford Says:

      the truth is probably a combination of all the memories, as each one of you brings your own emphasis to the event.

      fascinating stuff!

  2. Sister J Says:

    I vividly remember this! I remember being so scared for you…especially as you were tobogganed down the hill! Seemed so serious for ski patrol to have to help you. And it definitely seemed like more than a week that you were hurt in my memory!! I always day never to ski in slushy spring snow because of that memory and how the best skier of the family was taken down by slushy snow!!

    • abby mumford Says:

      i too remember the toboggan as the scariest part. those ski patrol dudes go so fast and i was going backwards, head first. no thank you!

      it’s also interesting that you remember it so vividly. i wonder if the event seemed bigger in our small memories?

      in other news, i’m pretty sure i was going so fast in part because i was showing off for you! ;)

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