I was washing the dishes and thinking about giving Ender a bath when he was a newborn, and I remembered that when my mom came to visit, she'd asked if there was anything I felt I needed. I really felt like it was important to have one of those bathtub "seats" for infants so that I wouldn't have to lay him down flat in the tub--I just wasn't comfortable with that. My mom said "Really?" And she had a thoughtful look, like she was surprised that that's what mattered to me. Recently, I've been scanning some old pictures for her, and as I went through a bunch from when the family lived in Berlin, there were some cute baby bath time pictures, and the babies were simply lying on their backs in the tub. Smiling at my mom, perfectly happy. So that long-ago conversation came back to me, and I understood why she'd been surprised (it was a very subtle expression on her face; she would never have made me feel bad by telling me I was being ridiculous). She never saw the need for those baby tub seats. And with that realization, I felt a fresh sense of gratitude that she had been sensitive to the situation: I was a new mom, and the things that were so important to me might not have been important at all, but it's all such a new world that the new mother is getting used to that you really shouldn't be critical. She knew that. She knew it so well.
Usually, when a long-ago conversation comes back to me, it's with a certain air of haunting. I recall someone giving me a compliment, and I suddenly can't remember if I said thank you. Even if it didn't matter to them, I should have. Or I realize that I said something--blurted something, more like--and it could have been offensive or insulting...but it's months later that I'm remembering, and I have a miniature sense of despair that I could have hurt someone unknowingly.
So anyway, as I washed the dishes, remembering my mother and learning something new about her and myself, I figured out that my brain's habit of pulling up old conversations is a good thing. I can use that to learn and gain wisdom and perception for future conversations! In fact, it's quite amazing that the brain is capable of recalling such little things like that from such a long time ago! My brain brings back the exact facial expressions, the exact timing, and sometimes even exact words of the moment. The fact that I have to think for some time before I speak (which means I'm not someone with really fast and witty comebacks) means that I'm storing things up for some good wisdom-food, for a later time that I can ponder and analyze and deeply, thoroughly understand. Like while I wash the dishes.