Don’t let memories go unremembered

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 2, 2009

I may not be in school, but that does not mean that I do not have homework. While my kindergarten daughter does not produce many assignments that require much of my assistance, I spent some time helping my young friend with his homework last week.

His assignment was to write his autobiography. He was to include four chapters: birth to three-years-old, four to six-years-old, seven-years-old to current and a final chapter on the future. While two, double-spaced pages per chapter may not sound like much to some, the task was incredibly intimidating to this sixth-grader.

He and his mother had gathered the photos to go along with each chapter and put everything in the binder exactly as the instruction sheet supplied by his teacher stated.

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While our families gathered for dinner, my young friend and his mother explained their frustration in trying to complete the assignment.

Their time had been divided between work on a paper about an inventor, soccer practice, guitar lessons and a huge amount of random homework from his different classes.

So, as his mother finished cooking dinner, my friend and I sat down in front of his computer and got to work.

He and I agreed that getting started was a painful process. Some might describe it to be like pulling teeth. We hashed out every detail of what we could remember of his time here on earth. We continuously called out to his mother for help from the kitchen. His dad tried to lend a hand. His sixteen-year-old sister even chimed in with an occasional memory of her brother’s childhood, but we could barely get a page out of his first three years of life.

Things were looking up as we moved into chapter two. We sped through chapter three. Then, by the time that we reached the final chapter and started laying out his plans for the future, we were in great shape. After we completed the assignment and breathed a sigh of relief, I found myself thinking about the process more than the satisfaction of its completion.

Having known this boy since he was only seven-months-old, I was unpleasantly surprised by my struggle to produce memories of his life.

His mother and father are two of the dearest friends that my husband and I have ever had. I have been there for a major portion of the events that they have enjoyed as a family, but we barely made eight pages out of the memories. This worried me.

I want to remember all of the things that I laugh about. I even want to remember some of the things that I cry about.

How can I hold on to the memories of all of the special times that I share with my family, my dear friends, their children and even my own daughter? I know that I can take pictures. Those of you who know me can testify that I have worked hard at that, but what else can I do?

I do not want to spend so much time trying to document events that I do not take time to enjoy them.

I am thankful for the opportunity to help my friend complete his assignment.

I am thankful to have been a part of his life and for the reminder that he unknowingly gave me that I should savor each moment that I am given, holding on the memories with all of my strength. I only hope that I can help him write about his next twelve years…

Wendy Ward is the business manager at The Messenger. She can be reached at 670-6301.