It is a trying thing we do. We want to understand what we remember of a specific time when all we have are bits of memories and what historians say went on at the time. But we cannot take as fact all that we read or hear. Everything written cannot be taken as gospel. Everything heard cannot be taken without question. What we have in our memory bank we get in snatches and try to make as much sense out of them as we can.
For when we try to do more than this, we are playing a guessing game. It is also a guess when we are not certain whose memories we are jousting with. Are they our memories of this life or perhaps other lives of ours as more of the world believes or perhaps even of distant or ancient ancestors written into our DNA? Are we responsible for unfulfilled talents or love not returned? Can we or should we put to rest our ancestors’ anguish?
And what about all the historians’ views of history? How much of it is conjecture? How much of it is piecing what bits can be garnered to fill in the spaces when the times themselves have left no record? There is much that can be retrieved through concerted research. But retrieved also must be the long lost habit of conversation with aging persons. There is much that oral history will reveal that written history has neglected to mention.
It is a hard work we do to find a putting place for memories. But it is one way to find out who holds the candle for each of us.