The Deeper Well of Memory Watching her mother battle Alzheimer's, Christine Cleary feared she might one day forget things she holds dear, including her own late husband. Now Cleary believes memory is more about heart than mind.
NPR logo

The Deeper Well of Memory

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/9416042/9469977" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
The Deeper Well of Memory

The Deeper Well of Memory

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/9416042/9469977" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

I: I believe in figuring out my own way to confess.

I: I believe in the power of numbers.

I: I believe in barbecue.

I: Well, I believe in friendliness.

I: I believe in mankind.

I: This, I believe.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Here's our series curator, Jay Allison.

JAY ALLISON: Here is Christine Cleary with her essay for, This, I Believe.

CHRISTINE CLEARY: At the same time my 44-year-old husband, Ed, was losing his life, my mother was losing her ability to remember. As Ed's lungs filled with cancer, Mom's brain was becoming tangled in plaque. She forgot how to start the car, whether or not she had eaten, and which family members had died - including my father.

I: his crooked smile and vigorous embrace, his woodsy smell and the way he cleared his throat when he reached the top of the stairs. I knew I'd always be able to recite his qualities - kind, gentle, smart, funny - but I wanted to be able to conjure up the physical man in my mind, as fully as possible, when he was gone.

I: I believe there is a difference between memory and remembering. Remembering has to do with turning the oven off before leaving the house, but memory is nurtured by emotion. It springs from a deeper well, safe from dementia and the passage of time.

ALLISON: For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.