The Blessings of Age

Good memories are a blessing, a gift to sweeten our lives the older we grow.

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Posted in , Apr 17, 2015

Memories and photos. Thinkstock.

I got a note from a Guideposts reader that I found particularly poignant. Emma was a longtime subscriber who had lived “a life full of happiness and the Lord’s blessings.” And indeed she had: seven kids, a slew of grandkids and a great-grandchild on the way. She wrote all their names down in a hand that was once neat but now showed the tremors of age.

She’s lost her husband after 53 years of marriage and one son in an accident, but had leaned on her faith to get through those heartbreaks. “I’m in a nursing home now and don’t get out much, but don’t worry about me. I’m as happy as ever and I have my memories.”

That’s sad, I thought. Such a rich life and now…only memories.

Or was it so sad? I’ve lived long enough now to have a pretty full store of memories myself. I remember my mother’s giggle and my father’s frown, and my late brother’s goofy walk.

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I remember the day my family moved from Philadelphia to Detroit–the big John Ivory moving van parked in front of our house–a day charged with both sadness and the wild anticipation of an eight-year-old boy setting out for the frontier.

I remember my first date (I took her to Henry Ford’s historic Greenfield Village, where we watched Ye Olde Blacksmith forge a horseshoe, then gorged on Stroh’s ice cream until we were sick and had to call our parents to pick us up).

I remember my first day as a graduate student at Yale and feeling awed but intimidated by the old and ivied architecture (I learned soon enough that most of it was of fairly recent vintage deliberately made to appear much older–I guess we all try to be more than we are sometimes). New Haven was not Ann Arbor but eventually it grew on me, especially the pizza at Pepe’s, the aroma of which I can still recall.

I remember the brilliant spring day Millie came into our lives, Julee and me crossing the crowded baggage claim at Newark Liberty Airport and searching for a puppy travel kennel from Florida. Millie spotted us first and squeaked, her nose poking through the wire door of her kennel. How did she know? 

And I certainly remember the day I got my job at Guideposts way back in the digital dark ages. I vowed to spend no more than a year here. I ended up writing a book about how that all changed, called The Promise of Hope.  

Good memories are a blessing, a gift to sweeten our lives the older we grow. Rereading Emma’s letter, I understood how fiercely I held on to mine, as fiercely as one holds on to anything precious. As Emma showed me, there’s nothing sad about that.

Do you have wonderful memories that you hold on to? Share them below.   

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