As my two year old daughter continues to grow up faster than I can fathom, I find myself fixated on how much of her current life she will actually retain as memory. This leads to a wide array thoughts: what are my own earliest memories? does she have any idea why people like wine? is it too early to teach her how to sucker grapes? (come to think of it, not remembering that job would actually be advantageous)
One thing Frances and I certainly share is a special relationship with our grandparents – and this ties into my earliest memories at the age of three. I have hazy notions of time spent at the farms of two sets of grandparents and accompanying them on vacations up north. I’m sure my recollections of those times have been shaped by listening to family stories over the years, but I treasure them nonetheless. Perhaps my first vivid, individual memory involves my parents bringing my baby sister home from the hospital when I was four, and soon Frances will get to experience that same life-changing moment.
Not surprisingly, most of my other early memories are either farm or tractor related. I often recall being put to bed with the late summer sun still shining, while my dad was finishing his tractor work within earshot of my bedroom window. I wished (and probably cried) that I could’ve been out there with him, and to this day I find the sound of a tractor very soothing, almost reassuring. I guess Frances comes by her own fascination with Grandpa and his tractor very naturally!
To that end, it has become abundantly clear that in her world I am just a conduit to the “real farmers”: Grandma and Grandpa. Frances doesn’t seem overly impressed that I play a minor role in the farm and winery operation, instead she fancies me as more of a farm chauffeur, ferrying her back and forth to her beloved St. David’s wonderland. She has a certain way of keeping my ego in check that manages to be both cute and matter of fact, “No Dada, those are Grandpa’s grapes.” I’ve been forced to learn the hard way that there is perhaps no more fruitless cause than trying to impress a two year old with your knowledge of terroir.
The times we spend together now may or may not form her first memories, but I will derive no greater joy than watching her continue to develop her own special bond with the “real farmers”.