“Dealing with the slipperiness of memory is a challenge for all of us. When those memories are so central to our own sense of identity, we are naturally resistant to the idea that we could have got them wrong. But we do not get them wrong, and probably more often than we think. Sometimes, we accept our memories’ inaccuracy, and even then continue to ‘remember’ them. We edit our versions of the past as we go along, as or emotions change and we encounter new information, but even that sometimes isn’t enough to negate the subjective power of a memory.
When I try to make sense of these sometimes counterintuitive findings, I find myself returning to the stories I tell about my dad. In my well-meaning effort to implant memories in my kids, I realise that I am taking advantage of the same special qualities of memory that the researchers have been exploring. I want my to have what I fear losing for myself: vivid memories of my father as a living person. I want them to help me remember him. Athena, our first child, was born two years after his death. I became a father before I had even a chance to finish mourning him, and those family roles are probably still powerfully entangled. Although the kids have three (thankfully healthy) grandparents, it’s important to me that they should have a fourth. I want to defend Dad against the forces of forgetting, and I am calling on the children as allies. It doesn’t matter to me that their memories of him are not strictly genuine. In this, as in other respects, they are telling their stories, and I am giving them a helping hand.”
― Charles Fernyhough, Pieces of Light