According to Science Daily the earliest memories that can be recalled is generally from the age of about two and a half years old. Though most people claim their earliest memory is more like 3.5 years or later, especially if they have no other date specific reference for the memory. Often people believe they must have been older when the event happened.
The events of your earliest memory seem to be impacted by the type of event. The birth of a sibling or a hospitalization are often remembered at earlier ages, as early as 2 years of age. Memories associated with the death of a close family member or moving to a new house might be recalled at later ages, such as 3 years or thereafter.
Though most early memories are related to some emotionally charged event, for me that doesn’t hold true. Mine was quiet and quaint. It did, in fact, correspond loosely with two events that commonly have emotional significance for many people, however there was no anger, fear, contempt, disgust, sadness, or shock with this memory for me. Instead it was a pleasant memory, almost pedestrian, but filled with security and contentment. In my estimation, this memory set my outlook for the rest of my life.
It was an early fall day, cool enough to wear layers, but just warm enough to keep the leaves mostly green.
The car climbed up the steep, gravel-covered path and slowed to a stop as we reached a flat open space.
The passenger door opened, I was unfastened, lifted up, and placed on the ground.
My mother held my hand, stretched high above my head, as we moved away from the vehicle and the heavy door banged shut.
The stones and dirt of the unfinished driveway crunched beneath my shoes.
We only took a few steps toward an immense structure, then paused and stood some distance away admiring the unfinished home.
I turned to look at my mother’s face and had to adjust my view to peer around her pregnant belly.
Her features brightened to a smile as her eyes noticed mine.
Reassuringly, she said “Look, here comes your father.”
I turned my gaze back to the house and could make out the exposed trusses of the roof with the sun gleaming through them, but I couldn’t see him yet.
Then the glare of the sun was blocked and suddenly he was right in front of me, rubbing and patting the top of my head saying, “Hey there, Charlie Brown!”
That was something he always said as sort of a term of endearment to me, like buddy or pal.
Then my mom and dad shared a quick kiss hello and started talking about the day, which to my ears sounded an awful lot like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons.
I was 1 year and 8 months old. And, as ordinary as that incident sounds, I know that I will never forget that moment. It is a reminder of the affection that filled my childhood and has been provided by my family ever since.
How did your earliest memory shape you?
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