Perceptions of time

My husband and I have very happy memories of an evening we spent right at the beginning of our relationship. We had dinner, and then sat in the garden watching my small Grandson play. I think we both remember very small details of that evening…what the weather was like, the mound of earth and tree stump Tom was playing on with his cars, the drama when it was time to leave, and one of the cars was missing. “Mike will find it and keep it for you” just wouldn’t work, so a search with a torch was necessary. Luckily, we found it , and Tom climbed back into his car seat, with his precious bag of toys clutched in his hand, happy that he had everything with him.

That was a relatively short time ago, nearly eight years ago. Tom, of course, has no memory of that evening, or of the preceding weekend, which he and I had spent with his Uncle and Aunt in Devon. Yet to me, that time is very fresh in my memory.

We all know, of course, that children do not remember very much before the age of about five or six, but I recently started thinking of it in terms of the proportions of your life span. Tom doesn’t remember because it was just over half his lifetime ago.

Remember when you were a child, and Christmas took ages to get here? Now we wonder where the time has gone, when all of a sudden it’s December again and we haven’t done what we promised ourselves we’d do and spread the cost over the year. The week before Christmas flies by. I’m certain that it always felt like a month instead of a week when I was a child.

So, my perception of time passing has changed over the years, and I’m interested to know what my Grandchildren remember of that time that was so important to Mike and me. Some have been born since then, so Mike has always been there as far as they are concerned. But are the “middle children” aware of that time before Mike and I met? I doubt it. Beth is nineteen, so she will remember, but I’m sure, because of the proportion of her lifetime that Mike has been around, that she will think of it as all happening a really long time ago.

When I was a child, we lived in Germany as part of the occupying forces after the war. I remember a lot of conversations started with “During the war…”, and it seemed to me that all that had happened  a long time ago. After all it was ten years ago! Now, thinking of the Falklands war puts it into perspective. Thirty years ago we watched our service men and women sail out to war. It seemed, and was, a huge thing. It certainly doesn’t seem like 30 years ago. It seems a relatively short time ago, but to my eldest son, who was eleven at the time, it seems like a very long time ago; though being a boy who was interested in all that was going on, he does have fairly clear memories of it.

What I do know is that the older I get, the faster time flies by. Just when I’m settled, and happy, and wanting this time to last so that I can enjoy it, it whizzes past. Soon it will be Christmas, and I’ll be kicking myself for not starting the shopping in January, as I promised I would.


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