Memory Mishaps

Before he died, I visited my husband's grandpa in Florida, where he resided, at an assisted living facility boarding a golf course.  He was a slight man who referred to his fellow residents as "inmates," and proudly showed us how he kept his girl friend's socks in the imaginary refrigerator on top of the air conditioner so they wouldn't stink up the place.  I was talking recently about him with my mother-in-law, saying how glad I am that our son got a chance to play golf with her dad before he died.  "But he died before your son was born," she said.  I didn't believe her until she pronounced the date of her dad's death. How could I have such a vivid memory of a thing that couldn't have happened? Had I imagined my husband as a boy, playing golf with his grandpa? Had I taken a conversation about how much my husband's grandpa would have loved playing golf with his great-grandchild and turned it into a memory?  Was I dreaming about having a child with my husband while we were visiting his grandpa and conjured up an image so real, I later mistook it for a memory?

I tell my husband a story I like to tell about an ex-boyfriend who was vacationing in D.C. during Reagan’s second term.  He went to Arlington Cemetery with his dad the same day it was rumored that Reagan was going to visit.  This ex-boyfriend of mine told his dad that if he saw Reagan, he was going to flip him off.  He got more and more agitated, hoping he would see the president, so he could show him what he thought of his politics.  And then, while they were walking around, a convoy of limousines rolled through the cemetary.  One slowed down right beside them and the mirrored window glided down, and there was Ronald Reagan, big old Hollywood grin, waving.  And there was my ex-boyfriend, waving back, grinning like a fool.  That’s what Reagan did to people.

I smile at my husband.  He is not smiling.  “That was me,” he says.

"Are you sure?" I ask.  His reaction informs me not to press him on the subject.

Still, I expect that one of these days someone will prove that I was right, that my husband heard me tell this story long ago and liked it so much he imaged it was him, though, of course, it's much more likely that by some gross psychological mishap that I would rather not have analyzed, it's my own memory that is to blame.  Then again, this may be a story that happened to many people during those years, and I just happen to know two of them.


  1. Oh Joanna, you are so funny! Have you ever heard of the publication Meatpaper? We saw an interview with the editor - she reminded us of you. The hair, the voice, the articulation... Meatpaper!? Isn't that weird?

  2. I haven't heard of such a thing as Meatpaper. But I will check it out. Thanks for the recommendation and thanks for reading.