Memories are a powerful force not only in our minds but in the world. They influence who we are as people, how we perceive the world, and what we learn. Memories keep our loved ones alive long after they have left this mortal world. They are our past, they inform our present, and they shape our future.
I recently read that scientists have discovered that memories can be inherited, passed down from one generation to the next, particularly from those who have faced trauma (see “Study of Holocaust Survivors Finds Trauma Passed on to Children’s Genes”). That means memories can change our DNA and in turn alter our children’s genes. This seems like a crazy idea straight out of a sci-fi book, but it’s not; it’s real. (See “Science Is Proving Some Memories Are Passed Down From Our Ancestors” and “Memories Can Be Inherited, and Scientists May Have Just Figured out How”.)
I wonder if that’s why when I talk with the boys about my sister Kylene, who died long before either of them were born, I get this uncanny feeling that they know exactly who I’m talking about, like they knew her. There is a solemness during these conversations. It may be that they’re feeding off of my emotions, but even that doesn’t feel like an adequate explanation.
The first time I had this sense of impossible knowledge on behalf of the boys, I thought I was reading too much into the situation (as I tend to do). But after I read that memories can be inherited, I realized there might be some truth to my intuition about my children and the auntie they never met. That somehow through my own trauma my boys have memories of my sister. Or maybe I’m deluding myself into thinking the impossible is possible.
How have your memories (or perhaps those of your parents) influenced your life?
#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Katie L. Carroll, Mary Waibel, and Kai Strand. We pick a topic (May is all about memories), drop a ripple in the inkwell (i.e. write about it on our blogs), and see where the conversation goes. Be sure to check out Kai’s and Mary’s posts this month. We’d love to have you join in the conversation on your own blogs. Full details and each month’s topic can be found on my #InkRipples page.