Saturday, August 23, 2014

Make memories when you can

Aug. 24
Some of my contemporaries and I have been taking trips down memory lane.
Literally, in some cases. An increasing number of my relatives and friends have been embarking on sentimental journeys. My older sister Sally made a trip back to Pentwater, Michigan, a little lakeside town where she spent her first seven years (three for me).
Sally was amazed to discover how much was just as she remembered it, down to a moose head in a local emporium.
And I realized how much she, as the eldest of three kids born over seven years, is the grand pooh-bah of family memory storage, now that our parents, all but one of our aunts and uncles, and three of our contemporary cousins are gone.
I thought about all this during a recent discussion with a mother who was thinking about taking her tots to an upcoming event that sounded like a lot of fun. The busy working mom decided her kids were too young to be able to remember the festivities, anyway.
And too late, I thought to tell her: “Maybe not, but YOU will.”
It all drove me to my family photo albums for a look at milestones in our lives. I went through formal graduation and wedding portraits, and pages of photos of other significant passages in life: first birthdays and early newborn shots of ourselves, our kids and grandkids. First days of school. Parties and festivals and summer gatherings of cousins at our grandparents’ log cabin lodge on Lake Margrethe in Michigan.
Many snapshots conjured up more mundane events that have nonetheless become the stuff of family legends.
The day our new Britanny Spaniel puppy decided to consume most of a big wheel of cheddar. The butterflies Duffy would instinctively move into perfect point pose to bring to our attention.
The joys and trials and tribulations of raising our own little families.
That miserable but memorable night camping in Redwood forests on our otherwise totally wonderful trip with our young son to San Francisco. A trip to the zoo, a toddler’s first encounter with a friendly giraffe.
The pain of deaths and separations and divorces can dissipate, as the decades pass, leaving warm memories of the love and warmth and laughter, moments to share as new generations and new friends join your circle.
In this age of selfies and Instagrams and relentless recording of our lives and times, I hope those “clouds” we are all entrusting with our memories will reliably store everything until we want to access it. And that we do some downloads and printouts along the way, just in case.
It all goes by in a flash — eventually even the hard and at-the-time tedious stuff. There will be moments when you’ll wake up on a sunny morning and realize how much you’d love to repeat that walk to the bus stop with an old friend, or your son or granddaughter. What you’d give to spend an hour with your mom, grocery shopping, folding laundry, discussing life, sharing a hug. How much it would mean, even if the wilderness-loving genes happened to skip you, to share a canoe trip and cast a few lines with your dad, your kids and their kids.
The speed of life, the value of the most mundane-at-the-time family moments, is, ironically, something many of us don’t realize until it’s clear how rare and precious such moments can be, both now and in the future, when you want to share them with new generations.
I was fortunate, though the knowledge came with pain and loss, to realize in my 20s that the price of awareness is awareness. And a bit later, that there’s a big pay-off for willingly paying that price.
Or in the words of lovable classic movie character Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore, @Derrickson Moore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

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