Recently actress Marilu Henner was featured on “60 Minutes” for possessing a rare and amazing ability they referred to as “superior autobiographical memory.” Also known as Hyperthymesia, a “super autobiographical memory” enables a person to remember almost every day of his or her life. Henner demonstrated this gift by reciting what she had for lunch on August 12th, 1974, as well where and when she bought every pair of shoes in her closet. I found this segment on Henner fascinating because, in the wake of Maddie’s passing, I would give anything to be able to remember every day of my life with her.
I have always had a tremendous memory for facts and figures. As a boy I could recite the stats for all eight hundred plus major league baseball players, and even today I can tell you which movie theater I screened each of the 1,500+ movies I’ve watched over the years. However, when it comes to remembering details of my life – even simple ones like the name of my third grade teacher – I am woefully inadequate.
Heather, on the hand, excels at this kind of memory. She will often talk in great detail about specific days we spent with Maddie, and too often I will have little to no memory of them. I enjoy hearing Heather reminisce about these days, but it would be disingenuous of me to say I wasn’t jealous. I only had five hundred and fourteen days with Maddie, and the fact that I remember far less breaks my heart.
Memory is a peculiar thing. We live in a world where people like Henner remember every moment of their life while others with Alzheimer’s can’t remember even a few preceding moments. As for me, I’ve begun, at Heather’s suggestion, to write down every memory of my life with Maddie. I’m also actively looking for other ways to preserve my memory of sweet Maddie Moo. The good news is that, although we are all at mercy of the limitations of our individual bodies and minds, nothing – not even my tired old noggin – can take away the amazing bond I have with my beautiful little girl.