By Pam Pacelli Cooper
President, Verissima Productions
My family of origin adores words. We did crossword puzzles, word games, Boggle and Scrabble when I was growing up. I was lucky enough to meet and marry someone who is also a lexophile.
What his family doesn’t do is create words to capture a feeling, an object, or a process where regular words don’t seem to work. I figure if it was OK for Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll (Oh, that “frumious Bandersnatch”), and e.e.cummings, it’s OK for us. We are Neologists.
This custom is proving to be immensely valuable as I talk to my now 90-year- old mother. In some ways, she is as sharp as ever, but her vocabulary is slipping along with her memory. As I try to piece together her personal history, we amble through our conversations, stopping along the way to clarify words and memories that are now quite murky. One day, we were working our way back to 1936 when she made a cross-country trip with her parents, seeking a dry climate for her stepfather, whose mustard-gassed lungs couldn’t take the cold, humid Chicago weather. She stalled when trying to describe the diary her mother had kept of the trip. “I don’t remember the correct sequence,” she said. “ My memory is just not what it was.” Then she paused again. “Just a minute, I think I’ll go into my Remembory and see if I can find it.” And she did.
Her Remembory: I loved it this new word! It brought to mind the famous “Memory Palaces” created by the Ancient Greeks, buildings in their brains that had rooms and shelves and doors in which they organized and stored vast amounts of material.
My own Remembory resembles the stacks in an immense library built in the 19th century. The stacks go up several levels, but there are also basements and subbasements where some of the most arcane and fascinating materials are stored. When I can’t think of something, I imagine myself filling out a slip of paper at the
library and the reference librarian “ sending down to the stacks” to get it. Sometimes it takes awhile, but with patience, it returns.
Do you have a “Remembory,” a place where you go to search for information from the past when you can’t find it in the present? Can you describe it for us?
NOTE: After I wrote this blog, I looked up Remembory on Google and found this from the “Urban Dictionary”: the recall of an almost forgotten memory, leading to a story.
Someone else out there is making up words, too…