I can play it back like a video in my mind. Clear as day, my mom opening, draining and microwaving a can of green beans to go with whatever it was we ate for dinner as a family.
This was mid 90's. If you do the math, I'm almost 30. Half my memory is gone by now from being pregnant twice. Some things, though, I can't forget. This is one of them.
It's a small thing, unimportant in most venues of memory, but it doesn't leave me. There is nothing memorable about the flavor of a can of green beans. No outstanding texture. It is the smallness of the memory that surprises me.
Sure, I remember the big things too. We drove across states of this country in which I had to remember the bird, the capitol, etc. We made "hobo pies" (as an adult I'm not sure how many homeless individuals have access to a cast iron panini press on sticks or who chose that name) filled with pie filling also from a can. My Dad used to make us "check the wind" before hanging ornaments on the tree.
It'll drive a parent crazy wondering what their children are going to remember. I realize now that often it has nothing to do with the big memories rather the unintentional every day acts (which is slightly more terrifying). Last night I made a butternut squash Mac n Cheese, pulled BBQ chicken, and canned green beans. Sitting down for dinner I was almost in tears, and I couldn't quite put my finger on the reason. It hit me in a wave, swallowing me up, completely enveloping me.
My childhood days of memories are no more. The seal has been locked, and my formative years are behind me. It is now my responsibility to make these formative years of my children's lives memorable and impress on them the things we believe important for the rest of their lives. Whoa.
In what feels like a flash, I have changed positions and am now the responsible party.
What an honor, what a responsibility. I don't know that she'll ever have the soft spot for canned green beans that I do, but I anticipate the day that I'm able to revel in her nostalgia.