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Precious Memories are Treasures in My Head

May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

I wanted to post today because Memorial Day (or Decoration Day if you’re from several generations previous) is a significant day of pause in the calendar year. It has nothing to do with company picnics, or sales at the mall, or parades, or obligatory speeches/appearances by our public officials.

Memorial Day is for remembering. I remember family and friends who are no longer with us. I remember the times in my life, young or otherwise, that were spent with these people. They are part of the treasure hoarded in my brain. It saddens me that they are no longer a part of my physical world, that I cannot touch them or speak with them. I certainly do not wish that they had hung on through debilitating pain or disease just to have them near. Their personal rest was a necessary thing that I respect and have come to accept.

Acceptance of loss is rarely easy. It requires time and thought – lots of thought. As long as I have my memories, these people are with me and always in a positive vein. That is how love never dies. The memories of direct experience are precious indeed.

Valley Brown's family portrait (date unknown).

Valley Brown’s family portrait (date unknown).

Other memories are acquired secondhand. My mother passed along a parcel of old photos recently. Like many elders, she is organizing and tidying as she knowingly approaches the end of her time on this planet. Inside the packet were two unexpected prizes: photos of my pseudonymous namesake: Valley Temperance Baker Brown. She died when I was but an infant, so I have no memories of her, unfortunately, but I have always been smitten with her name. In the family portrait photo, she is the woman on the left. The resemblance between us, at the same ages, is nothing short of uncanny. That is a two-sided issue. The other photo is of her and my Great-Aunt Irene, in 1948, when Valley was growing quite old. I teased my spouse that I have now seen what I will look like as an old lady, but that is not carved in stone. I am doing my best to be a much healthier person than most of my forebears, so I am hopeful that I will be in better shape when I reach that age.

Irene and Valley, Memorial Day, 1948.

Irene and Valley, Memorial Day, 1948.

I miss those who are no longer with me. My eyes automatically tear up when I start pulling those remembrances to the front of my consciousness. These are special people. Some served in times of war or conflict. Some raised families and worked ordinary jobs their entire lives.

Each of them touched my life in some way. I am grateful for them and I will remember them, always.

  1. well said …. what would we be without those memories?

  2. I think it’s so neat that your pen name is a family name–and it’s such an unusual one at that!

    • Thanks, Liz! I love that her name was indeed unique, and that a little bit of her can carry on beyond the DNA level.

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