The longer I live, the more memories I have stored up. This truism about older adulthood comes with a slight twist: It might become harder for me to dwell on any single memory. Each recollection —rich in its depth and satisfaction—can compete with the others for my attention, time and energy.
There are good reasons to hold on to a specific memory for more than a few seconds. Any of my memories—especially the positive ones—can support my self-concept, increase my resolve or surround me with helpful perspectives. Lingering memories slow me down—something I need when it comes time to make important decisions—and add to my gratitude for just being alive!
It makes sense to do more with memories than flutter among them. Instead, to spend quality time with any reminiscence, diving deep into the recollection of an event, emotion or discovery. Rather than just glancing at life-snapshots, watching entire memory-movies from start to finish!
Lately I have found myself doing this with memories of my father. I’ve found more occasions and more reasons to bring Ed Sitze memories into focus for more than a few moments. I’m trying to turn those thoughts over and over in my mind as useful reminders of how to live as a follower of Christ.
Most of my recollections of my father are distilled in his aphorisms about life. “As my father used to say….” seems an effective way to explain my thoughts to others. His succinct proverbs—most of them rooted in Scripture or experience—rest easy in my mind, always ready to be fitted to a current situation or question. (“Do it right the first time” or “Don’t look down on anyone because of how they dress” come to mind.)
One recurring experience sometimes brings me to tears: When I’m singing hymns in church, I can hear my father’s not-quite-on-key voice belting out his favorites. He really loved those hymns—and his soulful singing invites me to cherish them as well.
A photo of Ed hangs right above this keyboard. There are times when I look for a long time at that old face—now very similar to my own—and try to remember what was behind his facial expressions, his movements, his tone of voice and his quiet demeanor.
Lengthy time outdoors—gardening, walking or just standing in one place—calls to mind how Ed treasured the natural world. How he loved to put living things into the ground and take care of them. So my longer encounters with nature are always tinged with remembrance of my father.
Memories of my father are an example of what I find myself doing more and more: remembering other beloved people, re-examining satisfying events and thanking God for how my life has turned out. I spend much of this longer-memory time alone, when there are fewer distractions—while sitting in my favorite chair, during driving, in devotions and worship, in prayer or Bible reading or in journaling and blogging. Some of the lingering happens in the presence of artifacts of my past—old writings, the memorable items on this desk and these walls, cherished possessions, even items of clothing that I haven’t yet discarded.
The result of prolonged remembering: I can live these days of my life gratefully. remaining generous and gracious to others. God has been good, and so I will continue to pass on those blessings to others.
Always a good thing to remember!
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