The first garden I ever had I made on the hard-packed ground in the corner where the brick chimney met our house. Dad had built planters in the front of our house that he kept blooming with annuals every year. One year, and I think I must have been in high school, as I watched him planting his flowers, I told him I wished I could have a place to plant some flowers myself. And he helped me clear the grass and turn the hard packed dirt over. I bought the flowers and planted them. Then I think I largely ignored them. I have no memory of what happened with that little garden of ageratums.
Memories are funny that way.
The loss of my parents has been huge for me with many ramifications that I never would have imagined in my outlook on life, worldview, and priority list. I think a lot more about my own death now and in particular, what I can do to try to get rid of some of these items I’ve collected over the years so my children won’t be in a quandary about what to keep to honor my work and my memory. It seems like a huge task to me, and likely as the months pass it will fall lower and lower on my priority list. But I think about it now and I never did before.
Memories of my parents come into my mind frequently, always during the nights while I am trying to sleep, and usually when I’m driving the car. It’s not like I’m deliberately dwelling on my parents or their deaths. The memories come unbidden.
I had a revelation about memories yesterday when I realized that all my memories of my parents are intact, and likely always will be. Then I realized that while my parents were alive, they were living, walking, and talking memories. The person in the moment was only a slight shadow of the person of my many memories. I’m not saying that the “slight shadow” wasn’t held dear, and if you had witnessed my grief at their loss over these past four months you would know I am quite sincere. But what I am saying is that as long as I have my memories, I’ll still have a large portion of who my mother and my father were here with me. I think this is what many people tried to convey to me with their words of sympathy.
And I finally got it.
“Grieving is a journey that teaches us how to love in a new way now that our loved one is no longer with us. Consciously remembering those who have died is the key that opens the hearts that allows us to love them in new ways.” — Tom Attig, The Heart of Grief
13 thoughts on “The treasure of memories”
Thank you for sharing that.
Every once in awhile we’ll have those revelations or moments of clarity. I had one on the day of the funeral when it felt like I was saying something that my mother would have wanted me to say.
That’s nice, William. I became a lot more aware of how much like my mother I was and how much I carried her opinions with me after she was gone. That’s the point, I think.
The memories are like pages of a book in our minds, waiting for us to flip the pages.
A nice image. Especially for a book-lover like me.
Hi Christine .. so pleased the memories will remain with you … I hope you’ll be able to transcribe your thoughts for your children, or their children – we never know when people might want to look back in x number of years …
So pleased life is adjusting for you .. the flowers and those memories are lovely and you’ve inherited some of your father’s love for his gardens – cheers Hilary
I would like to be able to transcribe my thoughts too, Hilary. I just can’t seem to focus on it yet. I am adjusting. Thank you. You’ve been a big help leading the way.
Memories are the best! I was just thinking of your parents because I was watching a show on TV, Pickers, that I used to watch with them all the time. That show was just one, of many, things that they introduced me too. Hope all is well with you and the rest of the family.
I know! I have a hard time watching that or the HG channel. We watched the HG channel nonstop in Hospice. We had Dad’s TV at Walnut Creek set for the History Channel. It’s the end of an era.
Everyone is doing pretty well, I think. The house is sold, I don’t know if you knew that. So many adjustments.
Enjoy the summer with your kids.
As long as life rolls gently along, we don’t stop to think about these things, Christine. About the items we collect along the way, and how they can turn into a burden.
Try not to worry too much over it, my dear friend, and take the days as they come. You are alive, in the here and now. Don’t live in the future or the past, but grab these days and hold them tight. Relax and treasure the memories of your loved ones. They would have wanted you to. Heartfelt hugs.
Thanks, Marion. All good advice that I’ll make every effort to heed.
I know just what you’re saying here . . . when we interact with others, memories of our shared history often creep into the “present moment.”
Good memories make us feel closer.
Bad memories make us feel aloof.
You won’t make new memories with your parents, but they’ve left you with a legacy of memories so you can keep their “shadows” alive. I do the same with dad.
Thanks, Nancy. You always seem to get it.