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Remembering the Days

October 14, 2015
WestVaColor

West Virginia color from an Amtrak train window.

These have been busy, glorious, late September and October days, with no time to blog amid celebrating our oldest grandchild’s second birthday, visiting my 91-year-old mother (tied to a business trip), participation in the intense work of finding a new pastor for our church, and much more.

Sam2BirthdayCake

Sam’s second birthday.

MCUSAOffices

MCUSA offices, Elkhart, Ind.

I had considered declaring a blog sabbatical or vacation or something, but I’m back. I like having this blog/journal because I like to remember things and too often, things that are not written down do get forgotten, reshaped, or remembered differently by diverse people.

Our pastor emeritus, Don Allen, preached in late summer and a note I took during his sermon reminds me of his chosen theme of remembering: “If things are forgotten, it’s like they didn’t happen. What we remember corporately determines what and who we are.” (And if I had not made this note to myself, I would never have remembered his sermon from three months ago, sorry to say.)

Do you believe when things are forgotten, it’s like they didn’t happen?

Increasingly, I find myself the oldest—or among the oldest in a group. In a meeting, I hang out with younger people who don’t know names of well-known—to me—people of the church, community, or organization. And then I think, oh, they were just babies when that icon was a leader in the church. Or consider that most teenagers today have no personal memory of events like September 11, 2001, whereas for many of us, it was a pivotal moment in our personal and national/international history.

Inside, I am still 24 (my age when I got married). Outside, my face and arms have wrinkles, and you don’t even want to know about my thighs. I can’t bear to share a close up selfie of my face. I look at my mother’s frail frame which was once strong and robust. I encourage her to not let her weight fall below a certain number, figuring I’ll probably be as frail and light as her someday too, if I last that long.

BerthaAndMarthaLaughing

Dear friend Martha, left, in earlier days, with Mom.

Is it lucky to live to be in your 90s? Mom says, “I’m afraid I’ll live to be one hundred.” Somehow that no longer seems like the grand milestone everyone aims for, when friends, family and even younger loved ones have already passed to the great beyond. I hope she sticks around until 100 and more if she is healthy. But not being able to hear—and having maxed out the capabilities of hearing aids—is no fun either.

Her statement makes me think of Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them.’”

But Mom still takes obvious pleasure in:

MomShoeStore

Mom at Yoder’s Department Store

  • An afternoon jaunt to Amish-Mennonite tourist mecca Shipshewana, Ind. to browse at Yoder’s Department store for shoes, the fabric and hobby department, and kitchen wares, even if she didn’t find what she was looking for. (Not too big of surprise—that.)

BerthaMillerReading

  • Reading for those who can no longer read for themselves in her retirement complex.

RiseNRollBakery

  • Popping in to a favorite bakery/deli near my hometown of Middlebury, Rise’ n Roll, for another round of those famous cinnamon and carmel donut holes, which I first fell in love with and wrote about here.
EliPizzaNight

Great nephew Eli, who just celebrated his first birthday.

PizzaNight

Nephew Christopher, great niece Lucy, and more.

  • Pizza night with several members of my extended family. Yes, Mother got her Mountain Dew and Pizza Hut pizza. And I got to meet new great nephew Eli, about a year younger than my grandsons.

For me personally, the highlight of these recent autumn days and weeks was hearing both grandsons finally saying the beautiful words every grandparent longs to hear: Grandpa! Grandma! Grammy!

StuMelSamKissEdited

Bye bye to Sam

I will remember these days and savor all the sweetness—far sweeter than the momentary high of those marvelous but addictive doughnut holes.

Where people really do still sit in rocking chairs outside of stores.

Yoder’s Department Store, Shipshewana, Ind.: Where people really do still sit in chairs outside of stores and read, rock, and remember.

Do you believe when things are forgotten, it’s like they didn’t happen?

***

Is it lucky to live to be in your 90s?

***

You can also sign up for my weekly Another Way newspaper column, appearing each Friday on ThirdWay.com/aw, or let me know if there is a newspaper near you which may be interested in using the column. Thanks!

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From → Faith, Family Life

9 Comments
  1. I don’t know about the saying “When things are forgotten, it’s like they didn’t happen.” Maybe yes, maybe no. If someone finds a piece of memorabilia like an object or newspaper clipping, that thing can snap back to life.

    Like me, you have a busy, busy life and scarcely have time to enjoy it. But you have a summary here and can savor it in retrospect someday.

    I’ve always said that until I die I don’t want to lose my mind or my waistline. (One is more endangered than the other here.) I would wish to live into my nineties if I were physically fit and had no memory loss. But I am not in charge of my life span, God is. So: Teach me to number my days that I might apply my heart onto wisdom.”

    No one would blame you for taking a hiatus, Melodie.

  2. The nudges that spring memories back to life are great to ponder–and welcome. That certainly happens.

    I do hope the blog reflects how much I enjoyed the last couple weeks–and how e-life needs to meld with real life. I like the verse you added, Teach me to number my days…”

    And about the hiatus: I wasn’t really apologizing, just ‘splaining. 🙂 In truth, we all are snowed with so much material to read–that we like to keep up with–that it is kind of nice when readers can take a hiatus, too!

  3. My life is a spiral of forgetting and remembering. Forgetting can allow things to be re-experienced in a new way. E.g. do I ever think about Yoder’s? No, but your description of your mother in Yoder’s brings back memories! And even things you never remember shape your life. Oh, I think I could write a whole post about this. Better stop here!

    • English teacher that I am, I can’t let your comment pass without quoting a few lines fromWordworth’s quote from Ode: Intimations of Immortality:

      Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
      The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, 60
      Hath had elsewhere its setting,
      And cometh from afar:
      Not in entire forgetfulness,
      And not in utter nakedness,
      But trailing clouds of glory do we come 65
      From God, who is our home:

      I don’t know you Ms. Myers (Nancy?) but I’ve checked out your website. A practical mystic – hmmm! You might appreciate this then!

      • Marian, thanks for this, too! I’m trying to think who my prof was when we studied this poem, and how much I liked it. Thanks for bringing it back here–English teacher that you are.

      • Oh yes Marian. It has been so long since I’ve read that poem. I was young then. I thought it was a nice image. Now I know it is true.

    • Nancy, I’m not sure why WordPress is not allowing me to reply right under your comment, but this is for you! I’m glad my description of my mother in Yoder’s brings back memories! A good example of what you say is I had forgotten there were rocking chairs outside of Yoders–not a big deal, not a big memory, but once I stepped inside and saw those, I thought, oh yeah, rocking chairs. That sparked a memory of my father waiting there for us–me and my three little girls shopping in the fabric department. Dad is gone nine years now–what a picture/memory to have in my head again. I will be anxious to see your post on similar topics and just signed up for your blog. 🙂

  4. Melodie, I can go with you on your adventures to all these places, and I know most of the people that the younguns have no memory of. One of our roles at this stage of life is to be carriers of memories others know not of.

    As someone who thinks about both memory and history a lot, I’m not sure I agree that forgetting is a complete erasure. Any trace of journals, letters, interviews, images, or material culture can be enough for a clever detective to resurrect memory sometime in the future. But it’s also true that we sometimes select our memories in harmful ways. Those that deliberately try to blot out history (Holocaust deniers) or mythmakers like Parson Weems (Washington and the cherry tree story) prove that memory, like truth itself, can lose in the short run, but usually it wins in the long run.

    • On my Amtrak ride I met another couple at breakfast who had a month long pass for riding the rails–and I actually mentioned you and your trip–was that just last year? They were having a grand time.

      Thanks for putting a name on the role: carriers of memories others know not of. Even sounds poetic and grand. I definitely am grateful for memory triggers–but struggle with how many to keep around. I just hit delete delete on a yellowing newspaper from the town in Florida where my family lived for 8 years, complete with the nostalgic prices, vintage ads from 1969, an editorial by my pontificating history teacher. I slipped it into a waste basket last week when I was going through stuff, and then just this morning had another chance to rescue it as I bagged up the trash. “I wouldn’t take this with me if I ever move to a retirement home,” was my final thought on that particular piece. 🙂

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