Why are childhood memories important? Why are all our memories so important that we grieve if we cannot remember certain things as we age? Our memories are our treasure — our gift to the next generation.
My dear friend, Holley, wrote recently on her blog that she is worried about her parents, particularly her father’s upcoming surgery. And when I read her post, my heart grieved with her. I so well remember that dread, that fear, that “what happens to me without my parents?” And whether you admit it or not, no matter how old you are, you still feel that way until they are gone.
I wondered if our children worry about us. We have a son and daughter. Both are happily married and all four of our “kids” do take care of us. I smiled to myself when we came home from dancing last week and Kathy and Adam walked us into the house when they brought us home. It’s really really wonderful to feel loved!
But…what would I tell them if they were concerned about our deaths?
I would first quote my own father, who constantly reminded us that death is a natural part of life and that life is for the living. He also used to say “I just want to live until I die.” In those days, I thought that was a funny thing to say, but from this perspective, I understand just what he meant. I want to live as long as I can live — really live and enjoy my life!
Why Are Childhood Memories Important? Loss of Memory is Heartbreaking
Our mother had Alzheimer’s Disease from the age of 57. It was an 11 year nightmare watching this happy, loving wife and mother disappear before our eyes. I treasure memories of dancing with Mama in the hallway before walking to school, or laughing over a joke around the kitchen table, or walking in the house smelling hot chocolate pound cake in the oven. I have told those stories to the grandchildren over and over. Mama’s memory lives in them now.
Already I have been able to be with my children longer than mama was with us — in a real way anyway. I feel blessed with those extra years — like I got a bonus! I am busily writing down as many of my childhood memories as I can — for the children and the grandchildren. How I wish I had a book of my mother’s memories of her childhood.
When I die, I hope my children will be glad I was around as long as I was — however long that turns out to be — and that they will enjoy happy memories of fun times together.
We are preparing for our family reunion (on my father’s side of the family). Part of this preparation is writing our memories of those original brothers and sisters we call Minnie’s Kids – my dad was one of those! 🙂 I am compiling the memories as folks email them to me. This week we are focusing on the house on Shaw Street where our Aunts Ruby and Lillie lived. Over and over again, I have read — “they made me feel special.” and “I always felt loved in that house.”
You must realize that we are seniors (the age of your parents, Holley) writing our memories of a generation that is past — and yet, when we pause to reflect, we remember feeling loved and special as little children.
And so, Holley, that is the lesson of all of this circle of life talk. We live, we love, we die. And the piece of us that lives on and on in the hearts of those we love is that very love we have poured into them so gently, so carefully, for all of our lives. Creating memories.
I hope and pray that someday in the future my grandchildren will write happy memories of the love they found in our home. Is there anything that matters any more than that? I think not.
So, as my sister Betty would say, Enjoy the moments! Every moment of every day. Fill your time with your parents with happy loving conversations and laughter and enjoy them as long as you have them with you. And when the time comes that they are gone from this earth plane, replay those memories and bathe yourself in that precious love any time you want to! That is exactly what they would want you to do!
Facing the Final Mystery: A Guide to Discussing End-of-Life Issues, Second EditionThe Good Funeral: Death, Grief, and the Community of CareThe American Way of Death RevisitedDo Funerals Matter?: The Purposes and Practices of Death Rituals in Global Perspective