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

This post was first 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. Sometime in high school I started collecting letters or cards from people. Usually it was only one or two letters from someone, but the topic could be something noteworthy or else typical. I have a box on my desk. I don’t recall what came in it; possibly shoes, as the lid and sides are decorated with the words “Sweet Steps.” It seems an appropriate vessel for sweet and bittersweet memories I’ve kept.

    • Susan, I once save each and every card or letter I got in the mail. Over the years, the sheer volume became too much to easily manage. So I pick and choose what I save now. Still, going through them often leaves me wanting to keep far more of them than I had planned. I love reading old letters. They bring back so much, and the person’s handwriting is such a direct connection with them.

      • My Uncle, Roy, never threw anything away. When I went down to Arizona to visit him (he lives in a group home, and I stayed at his house), I would bring him something from his house every day, usually photos or old letters, which I would read to him. The vast quantity made it seem meaningless sometimes (“oh, this one’s from your insurance agent, wishing you a Merry Christmas”), but I did hit upon some gems, like a print out of an email he sent after passing his flight exam, and a letter from my Dad when Dad first started using Ham radio. I was reading that letter to my uncle, stumbling over the technical details, acronyms and frequencies, and my uncle was just nodding away. He knew exactly what my dad had been talking about!
        What a fun blessing, to get to know them better that way!

        • Susan, thank you for sharing this story. It’s especially more meaningful, after the email you sent me about Roy earlier this week. ❤ It always amazes me to think how many people there are in this world, each with a private universe into which only a relative few will have partial glimpses. I'm so happy you were able to have time to look through some of those windows into the lives of your own relatives. There are many ways to conceptualize infinity, but to me, none is more profound than the endless depths of the thoughts and experiences of every living soul. As C. S. Lewis aptly wrote, "You have never met a mere mortal."

  2. Interesting post. I love to keep memories. Certain songs especially take me back to good places that now only exist in my memory.

    • Isn’t it amazing how music can bring so much back so quickly? Certain scents can do the same, but I don’t always remember quite why they are familiar. But with music, I have very vivid and exact memories of when and where I used to hear those songs.

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