We are three quarters of the way down the stairs, our Legos balanced carefully in our hands. I am in the lead with my older brother by two years a few steps behind. We had supposedly been napping but our Lego creations tell otherwise.
Dad is waiting at the bottom. His expression attempting to chastise us for not having taken that nap, but the amusement shining from his eyes softens the reprimand.
It’s the memory of the delight with which I showed off my Lego design along with that twinkle shining through my dad’s disapproving expression that has stayed with me all these years. It’s as if he understood and complimented us on our creativity, while frowning ever so slightly about the missed nap.
Several years ago I mentioned this incident to my older brother, Eugene, and was surprised to discover that he had also remembered it. But his memory had recorded the incident otherwise. According to Eugene, Dad was not happy at all and we got a severe scolding for not having taken our naps.
How could two people have opposite memories about the exact same incident? Were the photos taken from different angles? Did he get scolded more because he was the big brother or did he just cling to the negative portion of the response?
When I told my mom about the incident, she said, “Eugene was a typical little boy who loved following his dad around in the shop and he would try to use Dad’s tools. Your Dad was often tired from the cancer and did not always have the patience with Eugene that he might have had otherwise. He and Eugene’s personalities sometimes clashed.”
I felt saddened. Because of Eugene’s conflict with Dad and his tools, he experienced a sterner side of Dad and that is the portion of the Lego memory he has carried with him all these years. I, on the other hand, was a little girl with no interest in my father’s tools. He had no cause for impatience with me. Therefore, my photo was taken from an angle that revealed my dad’s face and I caught the twinkle of understanding that came along with the reprimand. The angle of Eugene’s photo, conversely, must have concealed the smile that accompanied the words and negatively affected his memory of the incident.
Memories of feeling loved and understood have colored my life’s story through the years, even into adulthood. It has shaped who I am. It has given me a confidence that might otherwise have been missing. The confidence that I am lovable. That the God who created me did so with love.