Memories (by Doris)

The reflection below was written by Marsha’s mother, Doris, in 2005.  We share it with you on this Mother’s Day.

[Written in 2005]

Just after sunup one morning this week, I was lying on the floor as I finished a series of exercises. I was catching my breath before heading back to change clothes when I heard some geese calling nearby.

I had immediate images of the family of geese we watched from our apartment across town last spring. A quick series of reflections followed: Could this be the same family? There had only been a few honks; so it was likely a small gaggle. Maybe they had discovered the pond in the middle of our condo complex and were headed there. What fun it would be to watch another family grow up, the goslings changing from tiny birds to adult size, while the parents lead them around, teach them swimming safety, keep them in line as they waddle around the edge of the pond, watch over them while they sleep.

In the midst of my rapid ruminations, I realized I was trading off my experience with geese-watching last spring. Charles had gone to his bird book and learned several things about Canada Geese. The most amazing discovery was that both parents lose their flying feathers during the time the fledglings are maturing. Thus, the grownups are earth-bound. Both of them engage fully in parenting as they teach new skills. One stayed at the front of the line, the other at the rear, as they swam across the pond, or walked along the bank or crossed the street. And, taking turns, each parent stood watch while the rest of the family slept, their heads tucked under their wings.

Then a secondary bunch of reflections took over as I thought about the fact of my memories of geese. I went back to something my mother said late in her life, as she talked about conversations with a friend she had traveled with on several occasions. Her comment was something like, “When you get to be my age, memories are about all you have left.” I don’t count myself as being at that point in my life, but the comment has stayed with me (as a memory).

Thus began several reflections on memories themselves. What I know is that memories can be accurate, distorted or wrong. They can provoke moments of pain, delight, anger, wonder, joy, awe, sadness, or hope. They can become an occasion for self-pity or for the challenge of new endeavors. Memories are not simply ephemeral glimpses at the past, but a huge part of the stuff of the present, to which we must always take a new relationship and by which we choose to live now and toward the future, in unfaith or faith. Hmmmm, just like life. And memories seem to become increasingly important for the oldest among us.

My exercises were over for that morning, and I headed toward the shower.

Just a thought…


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