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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No Matter What, the Memories are Always There


The Crooks' Family at one of the infamous family get togethers
circa... 1970's

Many years ago, there was a lady I used to visit in the nursing home.  She was widowed, and as far as I could tell, relatively healthy both physically and mentally.  But it was also clear she wasn’t strong enough to be able to take care of herself at home, hence her move to the facility.  I never knew how the decision was made, but it was clear there was family involved in the decision beyond just her…children I think, but it has been a while.  We used to have pretty enjoyable visits, I thought.  What I do remember, though, is that we used to have conversations about how much she missed her house (in a nearby town), and all the things she had kept around her there. 

One time, I arrived for our visit, and as I entered her room, she had a big smile on her face.  She pointed over toward the wall where there stood a simple little five drawer upright dresser.  Nothing fancy, just kind of a box style pine.  She told me that the dresser came from her house, that she had gotten somebody in the family to bring it down to her.  That simple little dresser was for her a connection with her home and so made her feel more at home in her room.  Then she said something to me that I have never forgotten.  She said, “They can take my house, and take my things, but they can’t take my memories from me.”  And then she proceeded to tell me stories she remembered, especially stories about Elvis Presley, because she somehow knew him and sometimes he had even called her at the nursing home, though she said, “the staff likes to get on the phone when he calls, so I don’t always get to talk with him so much, but that’s okay.”  Quite a lady.  Quite a memory.

Probably most of you know that my father passed away last spring, and mom a couple of years ago, since I have mentioned it here before.  I am now in the position of having to sort through and make arrangements for the various household items that need to be passed on, sold or donated.  It is, of course, a daunting task.  And a very emotional task.  Today I was cleaning out some shelving, and ran across a silly little item that I have not seen since I was a child.  I didn’t even realize it was still around.  I had forgotten it, and thought it actually had been thrown away many years ago.  It was a simple souvenir from a trip to Mexico when I was very, very small.  Suddenly, I had lots of memories come flooding back, and my eye was not quite as dry as it had been a few minutes before.  It has made me think of the wisdom of my friend in the nursing home. 

Memories are precious things, aren’t they?  That was perhaps one of the hardest things for my dad, that my mother’s illness affected her ability to remember things, so he was no longer able to share and discuss memories from years gone by with her.  

Having spent a lot of my life working in photography, I remember hearing it said once, that the Chinese referred to Americans as the people who cannot remember…because we are always taking pictures of everything we see as we travel.  Guilty as charged!

These things have also made me think of some of the things I lost because of my divorce, items I will probably never see again, opportunities that can never be repeated.  In some ways similar to my father who could not share memories of his younger days with my mom, neither do I share memories with my ex wife, and the memories my wife and I have now are from a much later period in our lives.  But it is still important to remember, I might lose items in the divorce, and I may lose opportunities or have relationships impacted, but they can’t take my memories away.  Of course, since it was a divorce, there are memories that are just as well not recalled, but there are others that are still important for me, especially memories about my children or the church I pastored during their childhood. 

I think God has given our memory as a pretty special gift in life.  Memory is how we learn to not touch a hot stove, or how to find our way back home from school.  Memory is a treasure trove that brings us joy, sorrow, nostalgia and sometimes the encouragement to continue on as we remember we have conquered hard times before.  The little item I found today is really not anything significant.  The decorations on it have been tattered, faded and lost.  The metal parts are rusty, and the wood is rough and aged.  It isn’t the item that matters at all (which is part of why I am not telling you what it is), except that the item is a bridge to some special memories I had not thought of in years.  Some memories are triggered by scents, others by places we go, and others by items or photographs that transport us to another time and another place.  Memories make life full and sweet, and some of them make us realize how far we have come, or have good God has been. 

If there are some empty places in your life these days, perhaps a stroll down memory lane might just be the ticket to a smiling face and a warm heart.  Pull out that old photo album or scrapbook, or whatever would send you back, and enjoy a time of thankfulness for what God has done in your life.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. There are good memories in spite of some that are not so good. All of it is relevant to where we are today.