A 53 year old woman stands in her daughter’s bedroom doorway, her daughter having left for college. She looks around at her daughter’s bedroom. A room that was home to a small baby with a mobile hanging over the crib, later a little girl played with Barbies, said her evening prayers and made forts out of blankets. Not long after, a teen girl rushed in and quickly took off her soccer uniform, dropping it in a heap on the floor so that she could go shopping with friends.
A man stands alone, in his new apartment, the walls adorned with photos of his children that are at their mother’s home. Beanie babies lay lifelessly on the couch where two days ago the children played and laughed. The children will be back, but in these silent moments, the minutes tick by with the weight of a sledgehammer. The absence of laughter and moments missed are difficult to bear.
A brother and sister in their 60s stand in the opening of the garage to the home in which they grew up. Having buried their last parent that morning, they have the unenviable task of sorting through old belongings… of sifting through the memories.
In the end, all that exists of those we know, those we knew and of ourselves are the memories left behind in our minds and the minds of others. Generations pass, and stories are told but memories are lost and inevitably we cease to exist as a person that had dreams, held babies and made love to those that filled our heart. Eventually we are but merely a fact on a piece of paper or in a computer database. A name, a date of birth and perhaps a location of where we lived.
It sounds sad, and it is. But what can we do to change this? What can we do to make sure that we are more that just a name or a date?
For years I have been hired to sit down with those who want to have their story recorded and passed down for generations to come. I believe it’s critical to make sure we record each other’s stories. We all have a story to tell.
Please sit down with your family member, no matter what their age, and record their story. Ask them questions about their childhood, about their marriage, about whatever means the most to them and pass it on. Don’t let the lives of those you love be merely a memory to be lost in the wind.