Saturday, 28 January 2012

Every day evocations

Hands up if every time you do a simple everyday task it reminds you - relentlessly - of someone in your life? It is funny how our daily lives in all their repetitive glory conjure up people from our lives unbidden almost faultlessly. For instance every time I change the duvet on the bed I am taken back to 18 years old and my first duvet on leaving home and the time I was advised to tackle the awkward job by a friend. Every 10 days I almost always find myself in a reverie thinking about her - she died quite young sadly. Until I moved to internet banking she was also summoned when I worked out my spending using her suggested method - she was definitely an organised person.
duvet stress

glass milk bottles
In some ways it is sad when the catalyst to this memory changes. I no longer reminisce about my uncle when I wash milk bottles [he advised use cold water] as I use cartons now and I miss that prompt.

Many of the triggers are food related. The last meal I shared with my father was scrambled egg on toast and so cooking that will always bring his memory to the fore. My grandmother and her lovely rock cakes are an association recently revived by my partner's cake making craze. Gooseberries and box hedges make me think of an aunt I was very fond of as a child who had a wonderful garden. Pipe smokers take me straight to my grandfather who enjoyed his pipe right up to his death at 94!
box hedge

Sometimes it is hard to work out why an association is there at all. When I play Scrabble it almost always makes me think of a particular family I worked with as a social worker.

Of course - and this is for another blog - there are many sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures that also have associations but for now I just wanted to look at everyday things that were links to important people in my life.


  1. I do know what you are saying. This happens to me as well. I have a dear friend who passed away about 15 years ago and I often think of him in connection with everyday things. I'll hear or see something and wonder to myself, "What would Fred think about that?".
    Many things will evoke specific memories of special people in my past. Interesting how that works.

    Wrote By Rote

  2. Food is definitely one of the more potent prompts isn't it? And smell. I use Jergen's lotion now after many years when I didn't, because it reminds me of Mom. Making the bed reminds me of her too -she showed us just how, and we didn't leave the house with the bed unmade. I suspect she learned it herself in boarding school, where I'm sure they had to get it right!!

  3. Arlee - it is particularly evocative when the person is no longer with us isn't it, pretty powerful stuff.

    Melissa Ann - I think there is a lot more to be said about the senses generally as prompts and I expect it will come up again. Thanks for coming to my blog!!

  4. Dear Susan,
    This posting left me thinking of those things--foods, items, rooms, places--that bring back to me the people who have raised me, taught me, befriended me. I have a chipped coffee mug, given to me by two dear friends in August 1969 before I left Ohio and went to Minnesota to study. Whenever I see it or hold it I'm back at that gathering in another friend's home. Everyone is supportive of what I'm doing and I feel cherished. Such a lovely mug that carries with it this memory and those friends.

    Thank you for encouraging me through your post to look around me for my memories.


  5. Dee - that was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to evoke. A chipped mug is just right and wouldn't it be hard to throw away? Probably why a lot of people hold onto things others find mystifying.