Remember when you were younger and would be at a family gathering, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, and all the older folks would sit and talk about the old days, constantly rehashing the same stories you’d heard over and over again? Yet, they never seemed to tire of them. The kids would roll their eyes, as if to say, “Oh boy, here they go again,” but to those engaged in the conversation, there seemed to be nothing better. And as a kid, I could recognize that they really enjoyed talking about the past and getting a lot out of remembering things that had been forgotten—or some things not forgotten, but things that just hadn’t been shared with each other for quite some time. They were things that seemed to generate new life and energy when shared with each other again after a great deal of time had passed.
I could recognize it, but I never understood it. I couldn’t relate. Kids can’t. They don’t have that extensive history adults have. They don’t have the life experiences. They haven’t felt the joys and pains and beauty of life yet. They live in the moment They’re innocent, and they know no different than what happened today at school, or what the other kids in the neighborhood are doing right now. It is an innocence that I think we all would love to feel again, but it is one of those things that we leave behind when we reach a certain point in our lives. Our lives become richer, and other things become more important.
Family. Shared histories.
As I get older, there are now few things more comforting than being with people you love and saying, “Do you remember when . . .” and having the faces of everyone with you light up, and they laugh and say, “Oh my God, I had completely forgotten about that!”
There’s a spark. Then a twinkle in everyone’s eye, and a smile grows on their lips; for a moment while you are all laughing and remembering, everyone in our lives who has come and gone is there with us again. A bridge between the present and the past is created, and for a while you can veer into the past and relive those moments, seeing everyone smiling back at you and laughing with you again.
I lost my grandfather last July. He was part of my life for 39 years, and I still can’t believe he isn’t here anymore. He had always been there, and now he isn’t. I still haven’t quite accepted that he won’t be back. He was my buddy, my friend, and one of the most wonderful men anyone could meet. I miss him every day but cherish the fact that I was able to know him and appreciate him, as an adult for as long as I did. Not everyone gets that opportunity.
And I can still feel him here with me every time I think of the fond memories I have of my childhood or the discussions we’d have as adults. I build a bridge, and I remember him: then he is here.
I relish those moments now more than I ever have before. You’re sharing something magical, and I’m glad to be at that point in my life where I’m able to appreciate the magic. It’s what life is all about.
Have them. Share them.