Sharing memories a parent’s duty

“Stories make you think and dream; books make you want to ask questions” —Michael Morpurgo, author of “War Horse”

I tried hard, honest, but I just couldn’t stop myself. I hope she forgives me. As my daughter finalized a music lyric video in some kind of movie-maker program the other day, I fought the urge to spew out one of those “I remember…” comments from my teen years.

I fought it, and then I lost.

Basically she types in all the lyrics to a song and sets it to music and images on the computer. She can adjust when the frames change, when the music starts, stops and fades out.

Watching this, I remembered being her age and barreling to my cassette deck to catch a song off the radio and record it onto a cassette. This was a story I couldn’t not tell her. I lost her at the term “cassette deck,” but I guess telling another “when I was your age” tale is as much for my nostalgia as it is for her information.

I tell myself it’s better to treat my kids to all those miniscule memories. And when they roll their eyes they’re not really saying “here we go again” but, “Someday I will appreciate all this information about what your childhood was like, Mother, and I appreciate your efforts in preserving your history through me.”

I can read between the lines.

I have realized a theme cropping in my life lately—history. I am reading historical books, watching old movies, looking into my genealogy and realizing how far I have come apart from it all.

Talking about a book about a prisoner of war in World War II, a friend made the comment that after reading it, when she sees a sweet elderly man, she wonders what he has seen and what he has been through. If it weren’t for stories that start with “back in my day,” nobody would ever know what those things were.

We saw “War Horse” on Christmas and it reiterated how unimaginable and rich the past was. I can see why it would be hard for some to talk about what they’ve seen, like one of the men in the movie who drowned the memories of an earlier war in a flask instead, but it trickled out in his strength. And in his son’s strength, who learned the hard way what it meant to be a hero.

No self-recognition or demand for a pat on the back. Just running straight through with his head up, trying to get home. There’s a lot to be learned from that kind of attitude. And a lot to be learned from how far away from that mind-set we are now.

Now another year is closing, another piece of history. Looking back on it, I have been thinking about what I remember the most. It’s not the days I spent feeling sorry for myself or complaining or worrying. It’s sure not the days I wished for a nap or the extra time I spent on facebook. Those were gone before they happened, wasted away.

Guess that gives me something to consider for 2012. History will be made regardless, so I’d like to make it worthwhile in the moment and worth remembering in 30 years. And with enough substance to give my kids their own “when I was your age” leads.

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