I’ve always had an uncanny ability to recall. I can remember an array facts, figures and information. Some of the things I remember are useful, while some are useless at best.

I’ve long fashioned myself to be a storyteller, as well. If I have the ear of at least one person, I enjoy recounting stories of the past, and one thing I’ve learned about storytelling is the key to telling a good story is in the details.

The more detail, the better.

For me, the details never had to be enhanced because my memory of them was vivid and retrieval of those memories was automatic.

That ability to recall, Webster’s calls it “to bring back to mind,” that I’ve so longed enjoyed is the reason I was so shocked this week when I tried to retrieve a memory – and couldn’t.

On the surface, it was a simple memory lapse, one that truly shouldn’t have mattered and certainly didn’t matter to anyone – but me.

I had a random thought about pimiento cheese and immediately thought to myself, “Man my Dad loved pimiento cheese.” But almost as instantaneously I thought, “wait – did he hate pimiento cheese?”

Suddenly my ability to recall the simplest of details was challenged and I couldn’t reconcile whether my dad, who passed away 18 years ago next month, liked pimiento cheese or not.

And honestly, it hurt not to remember.

The failure of recall wasn’t what hurt, it was the thought that maybe he has been gone so long now that I’m starting to forget more things about him than I remember.

My wife and daughters never had a chance to meet my dad. They would have loved him – but not like he would have loved them. I tell them that all the time. They smile and laugh – and they believe it’s true.

They believe it because of the stories I’ve told them. They know all the stories – the ones that teach life lessons and the ones that just teach minute details about Papaw Andrew – because I’ve been able to recall them and share them and engrain them in their own memories.

Those memories that become stories become our history, and we are able to live it and breathe it and it’s a part of us.

But, what happens when we lose those memories? What happens when those details aren’t as crisp and clear as they’ve always been?

That’s what challenged me this week. I’ve had a genuine fear and asked this question aloud to myself: Has my dad been gone so long that I’m starting to lose the only thing I have left of him – my memories?

I racked my brain for what seemed like hours that day, thinking about Dad and pimiento cheese. I tried to think of every instance in which dad and I could have encountered pimiento cheese.

I remembered Saturday morning trips to the breakfast counter at Mozingo’s on English Road. I remembered him drinking coffee and eating biscuits and that it’s the first place I remember loving orange juice. Dad let me try the coffee there – even though I was too young for coffee. I never acquired the taste, but man the OJ was great. To this day, I hate coffee but love orange juice.

I remembered trips to the Humpty Dumpty down old 109 where we would buy produce and ice cream cones and hoop cheese with the red rind. I’m certain they sold pimiento cheese there, but I don’t remember if he ever bought any; and if he didn’t, was it because he didn’t like it?

I remembered going down to Pennington’s Food Mart and to Cedar Lodge Market to buy meat and how many times it was more about just chatting with the butcher than grabbing fresh ground beef.

Those would have been perfect places to buy pimiento cheese. But, I can’t remember if we did – or didn’t.

The day after telling my wife and kids about the pimiento cheese recall failure, my oldest daughter asked me, “Dad, do you like pimiento cheese?”

I’m actually indifferent. I neither like it nor dislike it. Maybe that’s the answer I’ve been searching for regarding my dad. Maybe the answer isn’t that he loved it – or hated it. Maybe it’s not the memory maker – maybe it’s just part of the past.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about pimiento cheese over the last several days, and nothing about pimiento cheese ever really jumped out at me – but the other memories of my dad that it invoked have filled my heart and mind.

That’s the thing about memories: just when you think you’ve lost one, you replace it with another.

Wayne Hunt thinks there’s nothing cheesy about losing your memory and encourages anyone concerned with premature memory loss to check out this website: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp