Today I found out that some one I care about has died. I knew they were sick, but I didn’t know how bad it was. It saddens me that I missed his last days thinking that I had more time. Yet, I am content knowing that we had the time to know one another and care for one another – time well spent. That’s where purposeful remembering comes in. Now I am going to take the time over the next few days to remember his investment into my life – how we laughed, how we discussed scripture, how we enjoyed good food, how we walked together, sharing companionship without words. I will remember his fatherhood toward me when I needed it the most.
As I writer, it important to me to capture the precious moments of everyone that touches my life. I especially want to internalize their voices. ( This is one of the reasons behind my book: Our Voices . . .) The words that people leave with us are like little treasures. Their words add richness to our way of life, and our way of thinking, whether it’s wisdom, truth, or disagreement. Even lies have an impact on how we think and feel about a topic. People leave something of themselves with us through the things that they say to us, and those things take root in one way or another – emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually.
Remembering in this way is very purposeful. It makes the people you miss live on in your heart and mind. It’s like walking down the lane with a friend. (Now that’s a country reference for you city kids. The lane is the road that leads to a friend or relative’s house where there are no sidewalks and sometimes no paving.) This memory walk makes you smile, makes you cry, makes you laugh, and makes you enjoy the fellowship all over again. Then if you take the time to write them down (diary, journal, scrap book notes with pictures), they are never lost.
My life has been so enriched by people of so many generations. (I’m not just talking about those who have died. Everyday I enjoy the lives of four and five years-old’s, and it’s true they say “the darn-est things.” I also get to spend time with my elders, persons 20 to 30 years older than me. ) I don’t ever want to loose those encounters. I won’t allow myself to forget the valuable experiences I’ve shared. The impact of true relationships is too important to me. The time invested in real relationships is well worth it during the time spent and afterwards. (See “Personal Investments,” Jan. 16th.)
I will share these times with others along the way. That’s part of the purposeful remembering too. Sharing memories with others allows us to expand our knowledge of an individual, because relationship dynamics vary depending on the people involved. The thing that means the most to me may not be reminiscent with your knowledge of that person at all. Sharing will allow us to enjoy and experience that person anew. Like, “Wow, I never knew that!” I’m already smiling just thinking about that. I know this will happen when I go over to the family home of my friend and we begin sharing our memories.
No one should have to say the words, “Don’t forget me!” because we should be mark an effort to remember those we love by being purposeful in keeping them near and dear to our hearts.
My Pen Remembers
My pen speaks of cool summer
Days, baseball in the rain
And your warm wrinkled face
Those fertile rows of wisdom carved
Over time and tilled by the plows
Of segregation and degradation
Yet you smiled.
My pen speaks of wood burning stoves
Black-eyed kittens and the sweet smell
Of gardens planted by your creased cracked
Fingers; a day of hard labor
At a house not your own nor could you enter
Yet you sang.
My pen speaks of overalls of faded denim
And plaid red flannel shirts soft upon your
Frail frame; still working after seventy years
Of being called boy and never a man
Sowing seeds of hope in several generations
Through the long dark days
Yet you found laughter
My pen is silenced by the sound of your love
That still warms my heart and stirs my memories
And calls me to be better because you endured.
What can’t be captured on paper is captured in my heart
So I smile, I sing, I laugh,
And I lay my pen down.