Remembrance – On Leaving Behind a Memory

Saltmarsh near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.

Saltmarsh near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way.”
― Frederick BuechnerWhistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary  

I know all of us have those crystalline moments of pure memory, a celebrated achievement like an award received or a promotion, a big life moment like our wedding, learning we were pregnant, or the birth of a special child, and events that add to our string of memories small pearls of the routine, trips to the library, walks to the playground, and larger pearls, more central, anchors of our life. Few of these, at least for me, exist in isolation. Most involve others.

It’s nice to think that our memories may be equally cherished by those with whom we share them. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, we can hope “our very life will be a poem” that we recite with another, and that they will treasure it, hold it in memory, recalling verses in the night from which to draw comfort, or a smile, hopefully even a laugh.

English: Photo of jetty at east end of the Cap...

English: Photo of jetty at east end of the Cape Cod Canal, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, memories are not all good. I have more than my share from childhood that I’d like to forget but can’t. So when I had children, (and now grandchildren 🙂 ), I tried to “make memories” for them. Christmases, birthdays, trips to Green Lakes and Beaver Lakes, walking the Beach and the jetty at Cape Cod, making our own tide pools with hermit crabs, playing with Stormy and Spray at the Aquarium, special dinners with “the good china” and the green crystal goblets. I wanted them to walk through the door of our house, smell something wonderful for dinner, and think, “I’m home.” And I wanted home to equal “I’m loved.”

I hope it worked. I think it did. And doing it for them made me happy and whole as well. One of my inexpensive but priceless treasures is a tiny plaque my daughter gave me. It reads, “Home is where your mom is.”

English: Milkweed (Asclepias spec.) Pod; Hyann...

English: Milkweed (Asclepias spec.) Pod; Hyannis, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes, in my mind I walk in happier childhood remembrance through the woods near my home. I follow the creek there, once again trying to find its origin. If I am distressed my memory and I walk Harbor Beach at sunset watching the colors change on the sheen left behind by the waves. But my best memories are of Doug in a red sweater singing and playing guitar when we were dating, or the two of us stealing time to play a game of backgammon when the children were small, or of looking at Chris run through the house, wearing the Superman Cape I made him, trying to fly, and of Gretchen and her “Teddy” (who started out bigger than her,) and her bringing him to me to fix when one of his “googly” eyes fell out. “He’s blind, mommy, Teddy’s blind.”  Back then a little black thread and Teddy could see once again…oh, if only life’s problems stayed that simple.

I don’t know how Gretchen would tell that story, but I know she remembers it. She has an amazing memory, even remembering down to age two a time she woke up and I rocked her in her great-grandmother’s rocker and fed her peaches. Perhaps her memory is so good because she was deliberate about trying to remember things. Once when she was a little girl I watched her turn her head in several directions and open and shut her eyes. “What are you doing, honey?” I asked her. “I’m taking pictures in my mind, so I won’t forget this,” was her answer.

When I was young, “women of certain means” would be given a necklace with a single pearl for their sixteenth birthday. As they aged, it would be added to and they would wear it on their wedding day. Special events would be celebrated with a pearl and eventually it became an elegant and lustrous treasure.  My pearls are just those moments of life, only memories, far less substantial, but warm and certainly supremely treasured.

English: The Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod C...

English: The Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal, with the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge in the background. The bridges are located near the town of Bourne in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. These are two of the three bridges over the Cape Cod Canal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not surprisingly, the importance of the ordinary can be so easily lost when we go looking for memories. Looking back, I realize how many of my pearls are made up of the everyday. But in that moment, my focus was taken up by all I had to do, running to keep up and get everything done. The perfect sunsets blended into one another and merely marked the end of yet another busy day.  It’s only in retrospect that my perception has changed, only now that everything can be seen in perspective, the pearls measured and aligned in perfect symmetry.

And of course, our mind plays tricks, since memories are rarely so symmetrical or perfect.  They do live “in the corners of our minds,” covered over time by cobwebs of grace, until the edges are blurred like “watercolor pictures.”  But imperfect as they are, it is in making them that we live and love, and in remembering them that we rediscover the pearls, and recall the smiles, the laughter, and the tears.

It’s Sunday….it’s an ordinary day….go make a memory.


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About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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15 Responses to Remembrance – On Leaving Behind a Memory

  1. Doug Eddy says:

    Lovely. Truly beautiful. So like you! Those pictures brought back so many wonderful memories of the Cape. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Allene Renz says:

    Memories of you will always be with me. You’re a special person, Joanne. And I love the blog.

    Allene Renz Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carolyn says:

    I love the image of that child “photographing” her memories by opening and closing her eyes. I may teach that to the littles, make a game out of it. Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lorriedeck says:

    Popped in from the Senor Salon…This is so beautiful, I love the idea of all those memories of every day making a beautiful pearl necklace. It’s so true for me…I think more about all the day to day moments than the bigger ones. It’s the day to day memories that make me smile the most.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I saw this on the Senior Salon. I shall jump from there when I return from my appointment so it will highlight the post. I do my best to make it around to everyone each week, and that method helps me keep track of those I’ve still to visit. See you later. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • lifelessons says:

        I posted this late last week and Bernadette asked me to post again so others would see it. Even though I have Senior Salon favorited, I lose track of the days these prompts need to be posted.

        Liked by 2 people

      • If you follow Bernadette, Judy, and check your reader, the moment she “opens” a new Salon, it goes there and reminds us. They usually open on Wed. around 1AM my time – Eastern (same as NYC).

        PS. I did give it a quick read, but I’ve got one ear cocked waiting for the beep of a horn to announce my ride, so I still need to come back to read again when I can better focus my attention. Wonderful images (loved the alliteration and concept of black birds barking)

        Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons says:

        I have her in my favorites but it doesn’t tell me when. I need to train my mind to remember..It’s the only weekly prompt for Wed. Now I’m sure I’ll remember.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Great, so I’ll get the reminder to click over to see what you are up to. Btw-just got home (3:25 AM) and am bushed! Need to be out the door for another long one in less than 8 hrs, so it may be the weekend before I can play catch-up.

        How do folks do this 5 days a week, month after month? Two long days away from my home office and I’m already bushed! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jumped over from the Senior Salon
    Lovely! The idea of wandering around in the days gone before like returning to a specific place we recall makes me smile.

    What is more amazing to me about memories is that they can be triggered – especially by smell, so science tells us. The smell of my mother’s perfume brings her back to me – though different memories “pop in” each time. Remember mimeograph paper? SUCH a distinctive smell that always brings back school – and not always tests, which is the context in which that smell arrived most often in days long before computers and printers.

    Many of us link through other modalities more readily – tactile, taste and hearing are three of the least usual, but still many of us have memories connected to the feel of a scratchy wool sweater against our skin, the taste of certain foods or the sound of taffeta rustling as someone walks into a room. Certain songs bring back entire periods of time for many people, and they do for me as well.

    My late sister smelled to “photograph” rather than blinking like your daughter. Her unusually keen sense of smell brought back so many things for her. Other than the scripts I had to memorize in my first career, I rarely recall attempting to “remember” deliberately – I just did, but my memories are more of events and conversations than the visuals that accompany them. However, anything I photographed with a camera certainly was a deliberate attempt to capture a moment visually, as were little momentos saved from trips or from friends – and my Christmas ornaments representing events in my life.

    We treasure our memories – and the idea of losing them is equated to a loss of SELF. As much as science has learned about memory and its dynamics, there is so much more we still don’t understand. They study memory and its dynamics, I believe, because we all want to preserve our ability to wander around in personal history and are drawn to connect with people who are no longer present. Precious.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      There are tests to look at learning styles – like memory they are visual, auditory, (though not smell) and kinesthetic (associated with movement a hand on style) It is really interesting how our brain attaches memories sights, sounds, smells, and sensations. In the last agency where I worked, there was a senior center. Some Alzheimers patients who could no longer speak could sing the old World War Two and earlier songs. I too remember my grandmother’s Cashmere Bouquet bath powder, my mother’s Muguet (smelled like lilly of the valley, and my daughter remembers me wearing Tabu, and I can still hear my mom singing.


      • Yes – the impact of modalities on memory and learning have always fascinated me – tho’ I have developed my own take on how it works most reliably (different for everyone, but the same theory), stimulated by my experience with ADD/EFDers.

        I recently replayed a podcast interview with a man who has a senior center for individuals in various stages of various “dementias” in Columbus Ohio, I believe, and they are having great success with a particular round-table story creation method. This is the same man who does a lot of research on the importance of play to healthy brain development, but his name escapes me — distracted listening for my ride (and realizing that we are going to be late-late-late!)

        My mother wore Fleur de Rocaille – an older French fragrance that might as well have been gold, judging by the price – one of her only extravagances. I could never wear florals personally, but I kept a tiny bottle from her dresser, practically empty, when I was boxing up her things after her death. Once a year I relive the wonderful way she smelled every time she got dressed up, before I place it upon my Christmas tree, tied with a ribbon.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Bernadette says:

    I have always been comforted by the thought that I could lose everything in life but not my cherished memories. I think that is what makes dementia and alzheimer’s disease so tragic. You are robbed of your memories. So happy to read your words again. I have missed you.

    Liked by 1 person

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