A Very Long Memory

by Lori Dwyer on June 3, 2011 · 24 comments

My children, they love to look at photos.

Most children do, I think? And now, especially for my little Chop, photos are a very important way of remembering Daddy. A remembrance, to trip our conversations and our memories.

I wonder if it hurts my little man, in the same way it does me, to look at pictures of Tony. A bitter sweet sting. An ache that just won’t go away.

I look at photos of him, I can smell the sweetness of his breath. I can taste the salty, warm skin of his shoulder, that was so big and rounded, tattooed and solid.

Sometimes I can taste the vaseline on my lips from the very last time I kissed him, mixed with a sour scent that proved to me his body was slowly dieing.

Tonight, while we waited for a batch of cupcakes to go golden brown in our outdated, slow cooking stove; my children and I pulled out photo albums and sat flicking through them.

My daughter, she will be two years old in a few months time. Her father has been dead for five months now.

So why am I so shocked, why does it feel like cold water in my face, when I realise she no longer points to pictures of her daddy?

Her nonna, her brother, me, Thomas the tank Engine… but I say “Bump, who’s that?” and she doesn’t point, doesn’t laugh or gurgle or attempt butchered pronunciation. She looks straight past him. In one photo, I watch as she points to me, Chop… and then, when I prompt here, an Iggle Piggle toy sitting in the background.

She no longer recognises her father’s face.

I know…. the inevitability of that should have been obvious. Such a tiny little thing when he passed away. It is unlikely- highly unlikely- that the Bump will ever have any organic memories of her own father. Surely, she will know all about him… I’ll make sure of that. But her memory of him will largely be one generated by myself, her brother, and our extended family.

Not a memory of her own making.

Some days, I try to remember, to freeze in time, the exact developmental stage my children were at when Tony passed away. The Chop, being older… he was much the same as now, but his comprehension of abstract subjects in amazing, his language blows me away and he speaks now of feelings and emotions- I’m not sure if that would have happened despite his father’s death, or not.

The Bump…? Five months is such a long time when you’re a one year old. A big girl now, she has all her teeth. her hair is long enough to put in a tiny, spiky ponytail, and I wept as i first did that, because I know tony would have adored it. She says words now- Tony never heard her speak- and she runs, rather than waddling along.

All this, he has missed. It’s a tiny fraction of what he will miss. And I feel the need to keep tabs on it, to pay extra special attention to their milestones since the lost their father.

Maybe it’s because I know there is only me as a memory bank for my children now. The comfort of having a back up… the pleasure of having someone to reminisce on my most private moments with. My son, he is still very much my husbands…. but my daughter, she is beginning to feel like mine and only mine, because I am the only one to testify to her daily growing up.

Parenting as a sovereignty… I’m discovering that, among so many other things, it requires a very good memory.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

marketingtomilk June 8, 2011 at 5:54 am

So feel for you Lori. It has devastated me to know that my kids won't remember their grandma, when they were so important to her, an they loved her so much in the moment.

Big hugs



Claire June 5, 2011 at 4:01 am

Such a moving post. Love being sent, as ever.



Rediscovering Joy June 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm

In our home, these are known as second hand memories. I lost a good part of my memory following an illness years ago and so alot of my memory bank was refilled by family and friends showing me photos and re-telling stories again and again. Whilst i have to admit they are not quite the same as the real thing, they are still very precious to me. Bump may not remember her Daddy in the traditional sense but the memories that you and your family build for her are no less valid. For what it's worth, i think you are doing a great job – hugs.


iMags June 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I was 2 years old the day my granddad died.. and I remember it clearly. I was climbing onto his lap to say goodbye and my mum took me off before I could. I remember I was mad at her because I hadn't done anything wrong. And then he was gone and I understood that too.. and was heartbroken because I never got to say goodbye.

It still surprises me how aware I was back then.

Bump may remember far too much. Hold her tightly.


Marianna Annadanna June 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm



Jodie June 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm

she might not remember…. but it will be your job to bring those memories alive when she is ready. Through photos, and telling your kids all about Tony. Even this blog. One day, she will feel his presence watching over her. She will feel his love – through you. *big hugs Lori*


Glorious Day June 4, 2011 at 8:49 am

Comfort: I offer.


Hear Mum Roar June 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm

What a tough thing to experience:( He'd be so proud of her.


Salamander June 3, 2011 at 11:05 pm

One day, many years from now, your Bump might read your blog. And she will read the "Before", and hear your wonderful, happy voice ringing clearly through your words. And then she might read the "After", and hear the love you have for her and Chop, and Tony too. Whatever she reads, she will know she had a Daddy who loved her, and a Mummy who loves her still. xxxxxx


Kevin June 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm

As always, my heart goes out to you and your kids. I'm always left speechless after reading your posts. Somehow anything I would write here just seems hollow and meaningless. I've been left with tears in my eyes after reading several of your posts, and this one did the same.

When my daughter was 19 months old and fighting for her life, I wondered if pictures of her short life would sustain my memories of her or would I always have that last mental picture of her lying in the hospital with wires and tubes coming off her.

I don't have any great words of wisdom or comfort for you outside of…I think you are wonderful and outstanding. And I'm sure that is rubbing off on your kids as well. Take care.


Lulu June 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm

"bump" will always have reminders of her dad by looking to you and your son.

It might not help- but my first solid memory is from when I was about a year old – she might remember. You do not know.

Either way, you will show her who her father was through stories, shared memories and more and she will look back on photos fondly in years to come and piece things together for herself.


Melissa June 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

That's heartbreaking. Watching your littles grow and change is wonerful and so sad. Such a poignant reminder of the progress of time. Oh this post left me with an ache for you today. Hang in there. Sending hugs.


Amy xxoo June 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm

As long as you remember Tony at his best, your daughter will always have reminders of him. They might not be her own memories, but 2nd hand stories will be enough to keep his memory alive in her…


Karyn June 3, 2011 at 6:49 pm

So very hard, to remember everything for everyone. So be the only person in your childrens' life – and not by choice. Lori, your blog is amazing as always, and I know that I'm feeling like needing support when I read yours, and then wonder why I do – cause you do. All the best :hug:


Suz @ Segovia and The I Love You Song June 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Sending much love Lori xx


Diminishing Lucy June 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm

And, as always, writing it down is the solution.



Donna June 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

And that is where this blog, this scared place and your soul stirring writing, come into perfect play. This is what will help you remember, will be a gift like no other to your children.



Melody June 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Tony is the one missing out. Don't feel bad, because you are not.

My Lily is the same age as your Bump. Each day there are new milestones. My husband works long hours and misses out on a lot of those milestones but at the end of the day he doesn't. I'm sorry your husband is.


Eccentricess June 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Keep it up with the photos and talking about what happened in each photo. I never met my Gran but I have always felt bonded to her from listening to the love in people's voices as they told me about each photo of her.


Suzi June 3, 2011 at 1:02 pm

It's important to document those things, it's surprising how much we don't remember as the years go by, and it's a gift to hand those memories to your children.


Glowless @ Where’s My Glow June 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Milestones are bitter sweet at the best of times.
If only blogging could change nappies as well as document memories.


Lynda Halliger-Otvos June 3, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Life continues to teach us… sometimes with a huge wallop. Not much to say this evening as I process my brother Tony’s untimely death last night.


Crystal Cheverie June 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Sigh… not much to say today. Just keep doing what you're doing – even if your Bump only knows her daddy through your memories of him, at least it's something.

HUGS for the three of you!



Mrs Woog June 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Tony is missing out on so much xx


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