Thursday, February 24, 2005


Interesting how the human mind works, and more interesting is memory.

I am 43. When I was 12 and in grade 7 (okay, to you Americans, 7th grade), we would have spelling bees from time to time if we finished our work and had about 10 minutes till the bell would ring for dismissal. We lined up along the blackboard and the teacher gave us words -- some easy, some difficult -- randomly. Either the bell would ring first, or we'd declare a champion speller, based on who was left standing.

I was a good speller, but I don't recall being champion. However, I do recall that the word bathyscaphe was given by the teacher -- to me? Perhaps. I can't recall that, either. But since that day in 1973, when I heard the spelling of the word, I've retained it. I quickly spell it aloud from time to time and recall this story to family and friends. Or I do it in a singsong manner, or make a clapping game with the word for my young daughter.

I may have remembered the spelling of the word all these years, but I've never had reason to use it in a sentence. Go figure....

Yes, memory is a strange and often wonderful thing. A perfect example that leaves me wondering about memory continually is my father's memory for his father's yahrzeit. Now you might think, "Of course her father would know and commemorate a parent's yahrzeit." But my father was six years old when his father passed away (my father's littlest sister was born two months after her father passed away!). That was over 75 years ago! There were harsh living conditions, a world war, dealing with huge and horrific losses, an uprooting of a life, and a replanting of a life and resulting fruit in subsequent years. So many trials and tribulations...illnesses that affected the brain: brain tumor, stroke...and yet the yahrzeit date stayed with this man all these years.

I think it's a blessing in disguise -- a kavod for the grandfather I never knew, the father that my father barely knew. We should all be blessed with such a do the right things in life.

***Bathyscaphe (also bathyscaph) -- n. : a navigable submersible for deep-sea exploration having a spherical watertight cabin attached to its underside.