Sunday 26 January 2020

Roslyn Dee: 'Memories made for grown-ups'

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'Back in October when I stumbled upon €16.99 flights to Madrid in January, I earmarked a day that I hoped would suit the son and then booked the surprise trip, only telling him a week before we flew' (stock photo)
'Back in October when I stumbled upon €16.99 flights to Madrid in January, I earmarked a day that I hoped would suit the son and then booked the surprise trip, only telling him a week before we flew' (stock photo)

Roslyn Dee

Picture this: it's years from now, I'm long gone, and my son is talking to his own grown-up son or daughter. For some reason, be it political, cultural or whatever, the Spanish capital of Madrid is in the news.

This is how I hear their conversation in my head…

"Did I ever tell you," says my son, "about the time your grandmother and I went to Madrid? For lunch. On a plane at the crack of dawn and back home before midnight. She'd booked it months ahead of my birthday, and off we went, just the two of us, a few days after I turned 31. It was so much fun. And all these years later, I can still remember every detail of it. And I have the photos to prove it!"

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And, doubtless, my grandchild will be appalled by the carbon footprint aspect of such a jaunt (sorry) but, hopefully, the sentiment behind it will still raise a smile.

Making memories. It's something in my parenting book that's always been every bit as important as getting kids through the Leaving, into gainful employment or into a home of their own. More important, actually.

As I get older, and having suffered the loss of my husband and both my parents in the past few years, I now find that it's the memories that sustain me.

When grief rises like a tsunami wave, it's those memories that help to turn back the tidal onslaught. A grief antidote, that's what they are.

And whatever about making memories for our kids when they are still youngsters, it's those adult engagements that are so very important - and forever lasting.

Yes, I have many wonderful childhood memories. My sister and I were recently reflecting on how lucky we were as children that our parents 'did things' with us. It was nothing to do with money because we weren't wealthy, it was to do with putting in the effort and giving us the experiences. And their time.

But the problem with childhood recollections is that we either view them, years later, still through the eyes of the child we once were, or we simply don't remember them because and it was all so long ago.

Memories made as an adult child, however, can be so much more potent because of the emotional maturity that is then involved.

While I recall many vignettes from my childhood, I can remember much better the full-blown emotional aspect of occasions spent with my parents when we were all grown-ups. And it is those memories that I carry with me.

Which is why, back in October when I stumbled upon €16.99 flights to Madrid in January, I earmarked a day that I hoped would suit the son and then booked the surprise trip, only telling him a week before we flew. We'd go for lunch, I told him.

And so it was that on Monday, just before Storm Brendan hit our shores, we were in the air at 6.25am, with a whole day of play stretching ahead.

We had a ball. From breakfast in the city's most famous 'chocolatería', to the hop-on, hop-off bus tour, to our pre-booked lunch in what is allegedly the world's oldest restaurant, we then followed up with a fantastic tour of Real Madrid's Bernabéu Stadium in the late afternoon. We even squeezed in evening tapas in the city's spit-and-sawdust Casa del Abuelo before jumping into a taxi, baggage free - the joy of it! - and declaring "Aeropuerto, por favor" to the driver.

What a day we had. But then, as the song written before I was born and made popular by Dean Martin so perfectly puts it, 'Memories are made of this'.

Irish Independent

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