It’s so weird how deceptive memory can be. I’ve been cautioned about this in the memoir-writing world, which is why I try to fact-check my story as much as possible.
I kept all my calendars and many receipts from our various medical appointments from the three years when we struggled to figure out what was wrong with Matthew. So I know I got my dates and basic facts right.
And I check my memories against Michael’s. He wasn’t there for many of the earlier medical appointments, but he came to all the latter ones.
At one of the final appointments before Matthew’s brain tumor diagnosis, Michael and I were both there, and we remember it differently.
We both remember the doctor examining Matthew and saying something like, “Well, obviously no brain tumor here.”
I thought it was Matthew’s eye-rolling that prompted the comment. Eye-rolling was Matthew’s first symptom, appearing when he was eight. Not just an occasional eye-roll, but over and over and over. Think ocular ferris-wheel.
Here’s what I wrote about that appointment in a draft:
The doctor explained that a brain tumor diagnosis is ruled out if the patient can roll their eyes.
In other words, eye-rolling means no brain tumor. Brain tumor means no eye-rolling. The two can not co-exist. At least not on paper, not in medical books, and not in the minds of the best doctors we could find.
When Michael read my draft, he insisted that it wasn’t the eye-rolling that elicited the “no brain tumor comment”; it was what the doctor saw, or didn’t see, when he shone a light into Matthew’s eyes.
I was convinced my version was correct.
So I did some research. The entire world-wide web couldn’t give me a shred of evidence to support my theory. Then, yesterday, I connected with a brain tumor survivor, a doctor, who confirmed that my theory and my memory were wrong.
So I’ll rewrite that scene and continue to fact-check.
How inaccurate memory is, even without brain damage.
My husband is not the attention-seeking kind of guy. In fact, when I mention him in my blog, he prefers to remain unnamed.
When we first met in college, about 37 years ago, (when I was around 5, if my math is correct,) I called him Mike, as he was known by his friends. After dating for about a year, he asked me to call him Michael, as he is known by his family. That’s when I knew we were getting serious.
So the first thing he’ll hate about this is that you know his name – both of them.
The next thing he’ll hate is that I’m calling him out for his 60th birthday. Not that he cares if people know his age, but he’ll hate if there’s a fuss. (Don’t worry, Dear – I promise you won’t even notice the commotion from my huge flock of subscribers and followers – all three of them, including my mom.)
Besides, I already made a fuss. First, we spent a weekend in Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Ommegang Brewery. (If you ever have a chance, check out the Bed and Brew weekend package at the Inn at Cooperstown – it was a blast!*) That trip was to throw him off the scent of the two surprises I planned for him: 1) His sister and our son coming in from out of town. 2) A surprise birthday beer-tasting party. And now, here’s a third whammy – this blog.
My husband’s a great guy. He would hate if I told you that, so I’ll just share this story:
It was the early 1990’s. (Let’s see – that would have made me about 15 by then.) I came home from a really bad day at work in tears. He gave me a hug and said:
“Come over here and sit down and tell me all about it.”
I swear to you, I am not making this up, And he didn’t even read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, even though I conveniently left it laying around the house. In fact, after his statement, I looked at him sideways and asked him what planet he was from. It certainly wasn’t Mars.
In subsequent years, when I had a bad day, he would cut to the chase by handing me a Manhattan he had chilled in the freezer. But you didn’t hear that from me.
So as to not embarrass him, I won’t tell you about his Type 1 diabetes, and what a role model he is for living well with this disease. Nor will I say that he’s been a great role model for our two grown sons. And I won’t mention his integrity, how he believes in doing the right thing and then does it, even when it’s inconvenient.
I wouldn’t want to tell you that stuff because it might make him reconsider being a nice guy. Not that I think that’s possible, but I don’t want to jinx myself. We’ve had a pretty good run.
(Sorry, Dear, but if you were a jerk, you wouldn’t be subjected to this right now.)
By the time you read this, my husband will no longer be 50-something. He’ll have crossed the threshold into a new decade of life. At this very moment, he’s probably squirting out his morning coffee, falling off his kitchen stool as he reads this. He’ll hate it. Almost as much as hates turning 60.
But I’m not worried about it.
Because love trumps hate any day.
(*I don’t get anything from this endorsement, and it really was a blast!)
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