See those pretty flowers? They are called forget-me-nots. My grandmother grew them in her garden.
When I was little, she would cut a stem, hand me a flower, and say, “My little forget-me-not, help me remember that we need to fetch eggs from the store so that we can bake your favorite cookies.”
I would put the flower in my hair, squeeze my eyes shut, and try really hard to remember: My grandmother gave me a flower because we need eggs for cookies!
Over time, I became the flower girl around my grandmother’s house, with a forget-me-not always dangling from my hair.
“My little forget-me-not, help me remember to check the boiling water on the stove.”
“My little forget-me-not, help me remember that we need to meet your mother at 5 o’clock.”
I always had a flower in my hair because there was always something that needed to be remembered. I am very good at remembering.
As I got older, my brain got bigger, and grandmother said that was such a good thing because she needed extra storage!
“My little forget-me-not, I want to tell you the story behind this picture and I want you to remember it. This is your grandfather standing next to a tree in our front yard. He was called Kinney. We had just bought our first house, and we were very proud. That tree had died and one of his first house projects was to cut it down, and put the wood from it in our fireplace. Since we live in the South, we’ve never needed a fire, and that wood is still in the fireplace today.”
Even though the flowers would wilt, I would try my hardest to remember all the details of stories like this one. I shared them with other people to practice remembering.
When I was in second grade, grandmother started asking me if I remembered things that she never told me.
“Forget-me-not, what day of the week is it?” The first time she asked me, I couldn’t recall. Luckily, my mother was there and told us both it was Sunday. Ever since, I have always double-checked what day it is before going to visit grandmother.
“Forget-me-not, what is that woman’s name?” I giggled and told her it was Lucy, of course. Lucy had been her next-door neighbor since before I was born.
Now my grandmother has moved to a place without a garden of forget-me-nots. She lives in a place with lots of other old people.
When I go to visit her, she doesn’t always remember to ask me things, but I know what to do.
I pick up one of the many pictures in her room, snuggle up to her on the couch, and say, “Grandmother, I am your forget-me-not, and I will tell you the story of this picture. This is my grandfather, your husband, standing next to a tree in your front yard…”
I am her forget-me-not, and I will always remember.