The Tainted Pool

November 14, 2011
Memories are memories. Sad or happy, wonderful or terrible, some memories will stay with you to your grave. We learn much from memory, whether that is to not touch a hot stove or to avoid mysterious strangers in a dark alley. Sometimes we need to bestow the knowledge achieved from these memories onto others, and sometimes they are simply remembered in a memoir because they are required by our creative writing teacher. They could be astonishing, appalling, or even outrageous, but these events are what define us as people and what gives us our humanity. This memoir represents three of my most beautiful memories that I now impart to you so that you may understand the reason for my tenacity, curiosity, and emotional hardiness.

The Death of my Grandmother

The first memory is of the utmost importance to my emotional hardiness for it is of my grandmother’s funeral. My family and I had traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to mourn for my grandmother. We had arrived at the church and had crowded into the somewhat open room that surrounded my grandmother’s casket. Tears had already made their way into my eyes and I scrubbed them furiously as they welled onto my cheeks. My brother’s and I milled around my mother who was attempting to herd us away from the door. Shapes moved around me, an occasional bump was met with a silent “Excuse me.” The room was filled with an eerie silence as the head of the casket was thrown back. The room was silence. White noise filled the air as the crowd slowly shuffled forward, one person being admitted to the body at a time. I clung to my mother’s arm and went up on my toes attempting to spot my grandmother through the crowd. As the crowd being admitted to the body thinned, the one against the walls expanded, heads bowed in silence and deference.

As the final man made his round and kissed my grandmother’s forehead, my mother ushered me forward. I released my hold on my mother’s arm and clenched my hands in white-knuckled fists, anxious and afraid of what I would see. My feet dragged with every step, arms weighing me down. I pushed on a foot at a time as the casket grew closer as my anxiety grew higher. The white noise threatened to overcome my senses as I took the final step towards the short platform that would allow me to see my grandmother. I raised myself upon the platform, and an overwhelming sense of loss and joy came over me. I gripped the edge of the casket as tears flowed down my face, though not a sound came from my throat. I stood staring at the most peaceful sight I had ever seen. My grandmother, free of troubles, worries, and pain lay within my sight. I bent and kissed her forehead as many others had done before, and wiped the tears from my face. I returned to my mother, eyes red and puffy, knowing that even in death my grandmother had changed me. I closed my heart to the loss, the pain, the suffering that her body gave me, and as we turned I knew I would never break my reserve over a death again.

The Loss of Memory

Memory is a fickle thing. It relies upon our worries, emotions, inspirations, hopes, and even dreams. As time passes memory can be interpreted many ways as our views warp to satisfy whatever emotion fills us. However, like all things, memory fades. It fades till all experiences are only dim, shadowed husks of what they used to be. Along with the dimming of the memories themselves goes the reasons for the experience and knowledge we possess. The fading of memory is much like a pool, albeit a pool of knowledge, that is vast and stretches as far as the eye can see. However, after time the water in the pool has become tainted with salt, proving it impossible to drink. As the creatures leave the tainted pool, it grows smaller and even more salted. In time it is so thick with salt that many a creature cannot tell the difference between the water and stone and the pool no longer recognizes the clear pools around it. The pool’s water is eventually completely drained into the other pool, leaving only the solid salt remaining, encasing the body of the once great pool.
Memory is like the pool, clear and thriving at the time of its birth but soon becomes salty, tainted with emotion. As more time passes and people no longer wish to hear your emotion-filled memories, they begin to fade, becoming ever foggier in our minds. The fog thickens until you can’t even remember the clear pools that are your children. This is the effect of Alzheimer’s and countless other diseases. Memory fogged and eventually forgotten. People you know and love become anonymous faces.

I watched as my final grandma succumbed to these effects. She didn’t remember my brothers, my mom, or even my dad, her son. Alzheimer’s and Arthritis took her life within two years, ending the pain and suffering she underwent. Pain and sorrow filled me when I learned of her death, but in a way I was satisfied. Not one tear escaped my eyes at the revelation of her death for I knew it was an end to her own agony and so in a way I was envious. No pain, sadness, grief, sorrow, or despair to be a victim of, only bliss. I have no more grandparents since my last grandmother died last year when I was fourteen. My only regret is that I did not get to say goodbye.

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