I just passed another milestone in my life. I am now 75 years young. I have so many special memories stored up in my mind about the life I have been blessed with. I remember! This is the most special part of my life. I still have an active mind with so much history, family, ideas, and events in my life that I cherish. Memories are precious and I thank God every day for each new day He allows me to make a memory. I don’t always use my days as wisely as I should, but I have so much to be thankful for. Many folks have memories stored in their minds but are unable to remember the life they are living or the life they have lived. I find it very important to write down the things that happen in life. Not all memories are good or special to each of us, however, each memory helps us develop into who we are and how we live our lives. Journals can be important to us, to our families and to our history. I have journals of my history. Some entries in my journals are the challenges I have overcome; and some entries are just happy events that I wish to remember and share with family. I would encourage one to keep a journal of those events that have made you the person you are. The journals are important to help one remember. Journals written by those who have had special memories and are unable to remember are precious memories to pass down to their loved ones. If you are not one to keep a journal, there are other ways to pass down your memories. Find a pretty jar or box and write down your special times on notes to put in the jar or box. If you do not like to write, take a picture or put your memories on film to pass along to family. One of the best ways to share memories is to take the time to share your history with your family by keeping a box that has special clippings from the newspapers that feature your family members. My mother and grandmother were devoted to keeping clippings of obituaries, birth announcements, letters, trinkets and such for their family to remember special occasions. Of course, many folks living today would just put these things on the computer. I find it interesting to find papers and letters written years ago that are priceless to have. I will share this topic a little later in my column.
As we get older, we remember events in the history of our lives as well as the many events of history in our country and beyond. Have you ever written down all the states you have traveled in? Have you ever written down all the Presidents who have been in office in your lifetime? Do you remember where you were when President Kennedy was shot or when the Twin Towers were hit? How many wars have you lived through? How many places have you visited that are part of history? How many changes have taken place in the communities you have lived in? Can you follow the history of the many places you have called home since you were born? How has technology advanced in your lifetime? Do you know where your family came from and who your ancestors are? If you start putting all this information together, you will understand how important your life is and who you were meant to be. Most of us are just ordinary people who have lived ordinary lives. However, there are many events in our lives that have made us who we are. Not all events have been pleasant. However, the ups and downs of life has built our characters as we move onward and upward. If we remember the many events in our lives, we can see how these events shaped our lives and helped us to grow and mature. Without our memories, life would be just a shadow of the persons we have become.
As I talk about memories, there are those who really do not want to remember some of the events of their lives because they were unpleasant. If we look back at our history, some of those unpleasant memories have made us stronger and have molded us into who we are today. Life changes with the experiences we face. Our experiences in life can make us or break us. If God is in our lives, He gets us through the bad times so we can enjoy the good times. Sometimes we just need to let go and let God do the rest.
I have said many times that God gives us various health issues to help us understand and have compassion for those who face many more difficult issues. Have you ever had health problems that you have gone through and then gotten well? Are you more thoughtful of those who face issues every day of their lives? These are life lessons given to us to make us more understanding, more compassionate and more thankful for the lives we have. We have endured for just a moment while others endure for a lifetime.
You might ask why I am writing this article at this time in my life. I have witnessed great times and challenges growing up. I remember my parents and how they cared for me and taught me to give back. I remember my grandmother who took me to church and who taught me about Jesus. I remember the times my grandmother and I would sit on her front porch and eat popcorn and watch the clouds as they went by in various shapes and sizes. I remember living in Texas for one year while my father was called back to the service of his country. While we were in Texas, I remember facing the struggle of getting over meningitis as my parents took care of me. I remember my school years here in Buckhannon. If you knew me as a young child and as a teen you would remember how shy I was. I did not talk much. If you know me now, I talk too much. I remember how happy I was when I got married. I remember the days my children and grandchildren were born. I have been able to watch my grandchildren grow and become young adults and make memories of their own. I have had the opportunity to work in my community and have been a part of various events and organizations that have made a difference in our community. I remember the Buckhannon of the 50’s and how much different it is today. Buckhannon and Upshur County has grown and is a special community with people who care about one another. The community if full of talent and is full of those who make a difference in the lives of others. Our community is full of beautiful flowers that grace our entrances. Our community has many organizations who work to make our community thrive. These are good memories. I am proud to live in Buckhannon and am proud to call West Virginia my home. I am proud to be an American. I am blessed and am thankful for 75 years of memories.
I am sad that some of our citizens around the country are making decisions that might take our nation in a direction that gives us less liberty. The times we are living in right now are very challenging. There is too much animosity and too much violence in our nation and around the world. There have been other such times that we remember but how we face today can make a huge difference in the tomorrows that will come. We might not be here, but, our children and grandchildren will bear the fruits of our labors. Looking back on the memories of America, we have had pride in our nation, we have found solutions to our nation’s problems and we have worked together even when we did not agree. I want our children and grandchildren to have bright prosperous futures, great memories to share and role models they look up to.
I mentioned some special memories that I would share later in my column. As I said earlier, I have been going through many papers, pictures, and memorabilia. Some of the memories come from letters and other papers that are over 100 years old. I found a letter my grandmother’s brother wrote his mother in 1902. I found a letter my Dad wrote my Mom the month before he came home from World War Two. The letter was written in 1946. The most exciting piece of paper I found was a one- dollar bill that my Dad carried all through his two years in Europe during the war. The dollar bill was very worn and was folded very neatly. On the face side were the dates June 16, 1944 and December 6, 1946. I was born in February of 1944 and was only eight weeks old when my Daddy left to go to war. I was almost 3 years old when he came home. He was not given the opportunity to make memories with his baby girl. The other side of the dollar bill had writing all around the edge. The words began with United States, Scotland, England, France, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Germany and again, United States. This dollar bill was carried by my father the whole time he was fighting in World War Two. I was blown away. I am pretty sure there were and are other service men and women who kept a record of their journey through the wars they participated in. There are so many stories we will never know about those who served their country. Many stories will never be told because those men and women never came home.
It is important to write down, tuck away, use notebooks, picture albums, video and family story time to document your family. Each family is unique. You can find out through various ancestor and genealogy programs where your family originated. You might even find out you are related to an important person in our country’s history. I found out recently that my grandmother on my Dad’s side of the family had a great or maybe great-great grandmother who was the first white woman settler in Upshur County. She and her husband lived in a tree on Turkey Run. Her sister-in-law married one of the Pringle brothers. I found out that my grandfather on my mother’s side was related to Stonewall Jackson. These are memories that tell history. We all have memories that take us back many generations. Everyone has a story. What memories do you have that make you unique? What is your story?
I leave you with this thought as you make your memories.
“One day at a time-this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone and do not be troubled about the future for it has not yet come. Live in the present and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering. Happiness is a journey! Enjoy the Ride! - Ida Scott Taylor