Thanks for the Memories!
Our best memories are a great gift, and need to be shared.
There are tons of jokes about older folks struggling with memory loss. My favorite is the woman who tells her husband to prepare a cheese sandwich for her. She chides he’d better write it down. He replies, “What’s the matter? You think I can’t remember anything?”
Twenty minutes later he comes from the kitchen and hands her a plate of scrambled eggs. She sputters, “I knew you couldn’t remember it! Where’s my bacon?”
Kidding aside, memory is one asset seniors have to share with the rest of us. In particular, memories. It’s a truism that, when we lose our community memory, we lose both the past and a meaningful future.
On January 10, I was privileged to sit in on a meeting of the military veterans (and their wives) who belong to Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 41st and Lyndale, south Minneapolis. They had decided to use this gathering to remember the Great Depression and tell stories about the great economic calamity through which all of them lived.
I was riveted. They remembered dust storms so dense there was no sun for an entire day. They remembered getting less for their crops than it had cost to raise them. One veteran said his father got socked with a shipping cost for his livestock which actually caused him to lose money on the deal.
They remembered having no money for anything, yet not feeling “poor.” Said several, “We didn’t feel poor, because we had enough to eat.” Or, “Everybody else was in the same boat, so we figured ‘If we’re poor, everybody else is too.’”
I shared a memory that had been passed along to me, about the bank in the northeast Iowa village where I once served a Lutheran congregation. It was the only bank in four counties that didn’t close, ever, during the Depression. How did I know? Because somebody remembered the story and told me.
Our seniors have a great treasure to share. We need to let them — ask them to — tell us their stories. And, we need to listen to them.