Memory is a child

Jeff and our boys stroll along Ka'anapali Beach, Maui 1991

Jeff and our boys stroll along Ka’anapali Beach, Maui 1991

“Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.”Pierce Harris

Memory is nothing if not selective in what it retains.  Hence five people may truthfully give five different accounts of the same event.  Yet some memories can be dormant rather than fully lost, called suddenly and vividly back to life by a scent, a song, or the sight of a vintage toy once loved but long forgotten, spotted years later in an antique shop.  Memory, for most of us, is a giant archive with ponderous hidden power.

Whether or not we are aware of it, each of us is storing up these small pebbles against a day when we will need to retrieve and reflect on something beautiful in the midst of pain or sorrow.  And we all toss, sometimes without much thought, dozens of pebbles into the minds of our loved ones and friends; a compliment, a treat, a small favor in a difficult hour, or a moment of light-hearted shared laughter.  Some of these small bits of life will be forgotten almost immediately, but some will remain and be treasured.

Have you ever had a friend say “I will never forget how much I appreciated what you said to me then” or “I don’t know how I would have managed if you had not helped me?”  Often when we are the recipients of such praise, we have no recall of the kindness so fondly recounted, and we may find that others have forgotten the compassionate words or actions they offered us in a time of trouble.  Kind words and loving deeds may seem insignificant at the time, but the blessings they bestow often grow richer over the years, stored fondly away to be taken out and cherished when needed most.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia! Yes, memory is a funny thing. Your post today brings several memories to my mind:
    Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, when Emily notes that we don’t pay enough attention to each other
    My dad is struggling with being separated from my mom and has been constantly wanting to know what time it is – in military time! He calls it “real time.”
    I remember a few similar photos I’ve taken, and in my case, they weren’t planned, but occurred because I had been photographing something else when I discovered my family had kept moving on. Thus: photos of them in the distance, with a scenic backdrop. (I had to wonder if that was the case here with you, too?)
    I do sometimes wonder how the things I’d say will be remembered. (Or if they’ll be remembered….) Perhaps partly to your point: we don’t get to pick which parts of what we say or do are remembered by others.
    Blessings on your day!

    • Susan, I really need to go back and re-read Our Town, if I can stand the tears it will likely bring. Re: the photo you mention — often my husband and older son would get exasperated at my slower pace, snapping photos continually, so they were often wandering ahead of me. Since Jeff HATED having his photo taken (I do too, so I understood even though I wished he would pose for me) it became much easier to photograph him/them from a distance. I have many such photos. It’s funny about things people remember or don’t remember. People have often repeated back to me something meaningful or hilarious that I supposedly said, and I will have absolutely no memory of it, though my memory– particularly my auditory memory– has always been one of my strong points. The research on memory is fascinating in and of itself. But I digress…Blessings to you too! 😀 ❤

  2. Carolyn

    Julia you have been on mind but still have not written or called you. Please for give me. I do need to call because I have to much to write about. No problems yet. Love the pictures you put on especially the one of the boys with Jeff. Love and hugs to you and Matt.

    • Carolyn, no apologies needed as I myself have been equally out of touch with you and others. I totally understand how that can happen. I’ll look forward to catching up whenever we are able. Stay well! Love to you and Terry.

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