I follow the conversations at Critical Mass with interest and sometimes just to visit the fox. But today's conversation about truth and memoir raised valid points. Is it all that important that a memoir be 100% truthfully relayed? Of course, the answer is that it can't be ALL that important since it is impossible for memory to stay true. We embellish, we embroider, we edit, without often realizing it. What we do remember as true might be contradicted by someone who was there in the memory with us. One of the things that fills me with dread is when someone close to me asks "Remember when we. . ." because what they ask about is some that is typically important to them and often I don't remember at first.
Asked about my childhood, I can recall the pony that my grandfather pastured near our home. I can remember the feel of the curry comb in my hand, of picking burrs from his (or was it her?) mane. Or have I substituted the tactile experiences of other, less memorable horses? I know that one day the pony bloated while I was putting on the saddle, and as we trotted through the woods and jumped over a downed log, the saddle tipped sideways and I fell off into the leaf mold near the place where my sister and I laid out sticks to form rooms in our pretend house under the hickories and white oaks, where we used acorn cups and pieces of bark to lay the table. Near the pond where one spring the fish were so hungry that I used mushroom caps to catch them on my cane pole because I ran out of earthworms. And wild roses, and blackberries, and persimmons in the fall. Some things are etched deeply. Some things fall and blow away beyond recall.