Memories of you

Jeff with one of his youngest patients, San Antonio, Texas, 1996

Jeff with one of his youngest patients, San Antonio, Texas, 1996

I am a miser of my memories of you
And will not spend them.   — Witter Bynner

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the importance of learning to let go of things.  It’s an ongoing challenge for me, but I’m making headway.  There are some things, however, that I know I’ll never give up willingly, and my dearest memories are among them.

If you’re like me, you never heard of Witter Bynner, but when I found this quote I did a bit of research and learned he is noteworthy, if only for the memories he refused to squander.  Specifically, at the Harvard database linked to his name above, there’s an inventory of the personal letters he donated to the college, sent to him by people whose names we immediately recognize.  I’m sure Harvard is glad Bynner was a miser of memories.  I am glad, too.

The great thing about hoarding memories is that they, like other intangible things, can be shared infinitely, with countless permutations and echoes.  If we are careful to be misers of the right memories, we can bless ourselves, our loved ones and future generations by sharing them.  What memories do you have to share?  What memories have others shared with you, enriching you with their recollections?

One year ago today:

Captured and preserved



  1. bobmielke

    I tend to remember hugs the most. A person can never get enough of them! 🙂

    • Bob, that is so true. I cherish the memory of a special hug given to me by a friend who died of cancer. I had not accepted that it would be the last time I saw her, but I now realize she probably knew it would be (and knew I didn’t know). At the time she told me “I think hugs are healing.” I have always remembered that.

      • bobmielke

        Physical contact is becoming unfashionable in our screwed up world. The handshake is all but obsolete. We sneeze in our elbow now. I prefer a hanky. If I get ebola or swine flu or aids because of a hug I will remember who is in charge of my future, God. He brought me into this world and only He will take me out.

        • Good points, Bob. We need to support our mental health instead of being obsessed only with physical longevity…and also realize that mental health is a holistic state that does not come purely from pharamceutical intervention.

  2. Like Fred Rogers, you ask, “what memories do you have . . . what memories have others shared with you . . .”
    The words of a George Rawson hymn come to mind:

    By Christ redeemed, in Christ restored;
    We keep the supper of the Word,
    And show the death of our dear Lord
    Until He come
    His body given in our stead
    Is seen in this memorial bread;
    And as we drink we see the blood
    Until He come
    And thus that dark betrayal night,
    With the last advent we unite
    By one bright chain of loving rite
    Until He come

  3. I have many wonderful memories. The very fondest ones though, are the day I married my husband, almost 20 years ago, the birth of my son, almost 18 years ago, the birth of my daughter, almost 16 years ago, and the day I sat with my mom all day long in her bedroom as she lay dying, then seeing her take her last breath that evening.

    • Those are all beautiful memories to carry. Such moments are gifts, not least because they each represent many, many more hours and days and years of everyday joy. Thanks for sharing them here!

  4. HarryS

    I’ve roamed around in swamp lands, pasture lands, on creeks and rivers, lakes, towns and cities and been blessed to travel to a few foreign lands and some of ours such as Alaska, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands etc. I have been at different times of my life as recently recognized to all five of our most beautiful cities.
    We haven’t traveled afar in over a dozen years now because of advancing age, disabilities and threats from foreign terrorist and perhaps from our own domestic variety but my quest for awe and wonder has never been quenched and I look for it in my everyday surroundings. I search this World Wide Web through the use of the remarkable tool of computer technology in all its applications and this morning I roamed the swamps and low lands of the Ace Basin in the low country of South Carolina.
    Anyone interested?
    Click on the link!
    And for an added bonus read the accompanying story, especially the last few paragraphs.

    Oh what beauties seen.

    Oh what a beauty yet to be appreciated.

    • Harry, I did visit that link and it’s beautiful! We are so lucky to have so much available to us to enjoy from a distance. As a kid I loved to read National Geographic and was elated when we started getting a subscription. I can still remember some of the photographs from the ones we had, which I looked at again and again. I loved the story and the last lines. I think it was a cougar for sure. 😀 By a remarkable coincidence, my nephew’s family just posted some photos to Facebook that resemble some of the ones at this link. They live in the Charleston SC area and were out in a canoe when they took them. Makes me want to go to SC soon!

  5. I sure relate to todays quote Julia. When it’s time to let go of those we love, it’s the memories that fill the void. I find it remarkable too that the brain let’s go of the bad and keeps the good. It’s like a photo album in your head, and who doesn’t enjoy looking back thru a photo album? I think I enjoy other peoples albums almost as much as mine. Sometimes, if I find a great pile of old, wrinkled photo’s at the antique market, I’ll spend time looking thru them and relishing all the details. Like what they’re wearing and what else is in the photo. Maybe a great old car, pet, furniture or garden. Was a period of time where a lot of photo’s were taken with a car. I wondered if it was the most expensive thing someone would buy back then? Even more than a house.

    I remember one of dads stories about how he and his brother bugged grandpa for a guitar for a long time. I guess one of the neighbours played and offered to teach them. Finally Grandpa relented and bought them a guitar. Months go by and Grandpa keeps asking them what they’ve learned. Meanwhile the boys had sold the guitar and spent the money. Finally grandpa, after being suspicious for a while, says “you bring that guitar home tomorrow, I want to hear what you’ve learned to play”. Of course they had to then fess up. Dad would laugh and think how daring they were. I thought it was fun because it seems such an innocent prank compared to some kids. That’s a really nice photo of Jeff and his patient, must be tricky with little ones. Honestly, I still get nervous at the dentist 😀 xo K

    • K, I’m so glad you have some of these funny stories from your Dad. It sounds like your Grandpa was a good sport. Like you, I find everyone’s photos and stories fascinating. I could wander around the internet (or for that matter, get lost reading the obituaries) for hours, thinking about each person’s life, all the hidden stories and lessons and thoughts and sorrows and joys. There’s a lot of talk about the staggering infinity of the universe — and rightly so — but I find just as amazing the miracle of every living soul on this earth having a unique history, each person being totally and completely an individual. When you think of the billions of people on earth it’s just amazing. I hope that by spending less time writing blogs, I will have more time to read them. I so enjoy connecting with people through reading their own words about their worlds.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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