By Bruce Stambaugh
Whether we realize it or not, we make memories every day.
Memories don’t have to be from times long past. Often they are the moments at hand that we cherish the most. The older I get, the more emotive I am about the everyday happenings in my life.
Some memories come from yesterday. Others bubble up from the yesterdays of long, long ago. Some are innocent, innocuous ditties while others are serious, life-awakening treasures.
The odd thing about memories is how they so often just pop up at the strangest times and places. It’s why we need to be mindful of our constant memory making.
A spark down deep spontaneously ignites and I’m hiking a switchback alpine trail inhaling thin, clear mountain air. Another moment I’m in the delivery room of the local hospital watching my lovely wife deliver our second child. Soon our family doctor holds our newborn in front of us, exclaiming, “She’s a boy!”
In another flash, I’m a child myself, belly flopping on my Flexible Flyer through heavy, wet snow, shouts of glee echoing off the blanketed hillsides. I still have that magic sled.
I remember our daughter, only two at the time, ordering a male guest who tried to leave to sit back down. Her little tea party wasn’t ready to end. The man laughed and complied.
I remember racing to beat the rapidly rising tide to the beach in a shallow bay on Cape Cod. I’ve checked the tidal charts ever since. Then there was the warm summer’s evening I climbed the 897 steps in the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital. The walk back down wasn’t nearly as exciting for this 16-year-old.
Other less joyful memories we wish we could erase of course. But they, too, are indelibly etched in our minds, resurrected at the strangest, most inappropriate times. We cope with thoughts and prayers and tears, always moving forward in our too short lives.
Many of the memories my wife and I have mutually maintained involve travel with family and friends. I hadn’t been to Hocking Hills State Park since I was a teenager. I enjoyed a recent trip with friends as much as I did the one 50 years ago with family.
We strolled trails, discovered waterfalls, explored caves, and enjoyed every color of green imaginable. We wandered forests of towering trees with unfolding canopies and floors of thousands of feathery ferns.
The best memories don’t have to come from exotic, far away places either. They can be pretty close to home. And, too, some settings are made to be memorable.
Ideally, wedding ceremonies and the ensuing reception are memory machines. This celebration was especially so. We witnessed the wedding of our Amish neighbor’s daughter. It’s always an honor to be guests at such occasions.
We loved the focus on family and personal commitment. It was a happy yet solemn occasion. The combination of the simplicity and the significance of the marriage sealed the moment into my mind. There was no flowing wedding gown, no tuxedos, no flowery bouquets, only serious contemplation.
At the reception in the barn, the buzz of the lively conversations further seasoned the already scrumptious food passed up and down long, pleasantly decorated tables. It truly was a life celebration worth remembering.
Memories are potent reminders of life’s sweeping landscapes. What endearing memories will we make today that will be worthy of future recollecting?
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016