My five-year-old daughter loves flowers. She loves picking them from our front yard, choosing arrangements at Trader Joe’s, and drawing pictures of them. Recently, she grew attached to a plastic Hawaiian lei from the Dollar Store. She called it her “flower necklace.” On the way home from a party this weekend she told my wife and I that she gave it away to one of our friends. When we asked her why she did that, she responded: “I wanted her to remember me.”
We were floored. What a very mature statement for a little girl. Isn’t that what we all want in life: to have an impact and not be forgotten?
That need is never larger than when it comes to our family. We take thousands of pictures, make albums and scrapbooks, and even get ornaments and trinkets during vacations and other family trips to commemorate our travels together. Some of us (yes, Mom, I am talking to you) even save boxes upon boxes of school and artwork to pass on later in adulthood. These mementoes take up precious storage space, probably are a fire hazard, and are hardly eco-friendly. In fact, I am positive my elementary school years are responsible for a missing rainforest somewhere. But yet we amass these collections anyway. Why?
Parents do it both to fondly look back on a time that breezed by too quickly, but also so their kids don’t forget about them or the deep love they will always have for them. Likewise, adult children keep these collections to prevent the nurturing love of childhood from fading. We might not live forever, but the hope is that we can through the memories of what we leave behind for our families.
The need to be remembered by my kids is a strong one. That is why I have a number of boxes taking up space in my garage. Of course, a number of them are from my parents, too. In the hustle and bustle of life, I tend to forget they are there. So when I occasionally come across these hidden treasures (usually during a spring cleaning or taking down the Christmas decorations), it is a happy surprise. In pure Clark Griswold fashion, I find myself quickly lost and transfixed in nostalgia of a time gone by and wrapped in the warm blanket of my own childhood. While my parents are still very much alive and well, they live on the East Coast and we don’t get to see each other much. Yet, in those moments I remember and feel their love for me. It helps me not forget them.
My wife Carolyn and I have been fortunate to have had our parents around to help guide us into adulthood and now parenthood. But what if they had died young? How would our lives have been different? Would we still remember them? And what if something happens to us? How can we ensure that we can pass on our values, traditions, life-lessons, and love to our kids as they grow so they will never forget us?
The imprint we leave on our families and how we decide to be remembered is unique to each of us. The answer lies within. So take the time to reflect on what you might do to live forever in the collective memory of those you love.
Keep being amazing,