Not long ago my husband of several decades and I were having a conversation about domestically life-changing decisions. Admittedly, conversation is rather overstating it as most of the occasions I came up with ‘do you remember …….?’ had the reply ‘no’. Including some particularly fondly remembered and meaningful ones. Such as the decision to move to this house, which is the one he was born in. I know where we were (lunch at the yacht club in Lowestoft), where we were sitting, what we were eating and what we said. He told me that, his father having died a few weeks before, that his mother had decided to move. I said, would he like to move there? You know how it is when (as my sister says, often, but she’s an impulsive girl) mouth overtakes brain? I didn’t know I was going to say it until I heard myself, I loved my house, a big Edwardian old rectory.
Okay, so he didn’t recall it. What about the one a week later (gosh, 1983 was an eventful summer) when we decided that a new start was a good time to have another baby? Well, the baby certainly happened so he wasn’t denying it, but he didn’t remember actually talking about it. How about the decision, when he reached 50, to ease off, workwise, have less money but enjoy simple family life? ‘Huh? We decided that?’ Me not to take a job when youngest went to school? ‘?’
‘But you’re supposed to be the one with the good memory, that’s why I’m able to forget everything.’
Finally, and I’m glad to say that we were both laughing by this time, I said ‘Do you remember asking me to marry you?’ He replied keenly that he did. ‘what do you remember?’ I pressed on. I’d hit the jackpot here. ‘Well, we’d been to Long Melford for the evening, I had an appointment at the art gallery there to look at some pictures and I bought a Henry Bright that I thought Nigel would be interested in, but he didn’t much like it so I’ve still got it. Never had anywhere to hang it though. It was on our way back.’
I knew we were driving to Lowestoft along the A12; or more accurately, we’d stopped in a layby when he brought up the subject, but this colourfully arty background had escaped me years ago. I was hugely impressed. So I asked what he had said. He could, of course, have bluffed, since obviously he’d asked me to marry him and I’d said yes, but he admitted that the details had blurred into time forgotten.
He remembered the year and the month, but couldn’t recall the date – neither can I come to that. It took us years to remember our wedding anniversary, we used to have to look it up. We knew we had only been going out together for three weeks when we became engaged, though then had a very long engagement of over three months, which I thought was a bit of a waste of time. I suppose my sister isn’t the only impulsive one in the family.