A friend posted a cute picture on the internet of his three-year-old daughter’s doll. She wanted Daddy to sew a button and a button hole on her doll’s blanket. For an attorney (and I’m saying this for his benefit—I used to be his legal secretary), he did a pretty good job! My first thought was, “She will remember that her whole life.”
As I thought about the doll blanket, I remembered moments from my own childhood—cherished moments. I wondered if my parents realized at the time that they would be cherished memories. I doubt it. As parents, we never really know what our children (and grandchildren) will remember about us later. That’s why it is so important to make every moment count.
I was four years old when I first became aware of how much my parents really loved me. We had taken a short vacation in San Francisco. The budget was very tight. We had saved coins in a pink piggy bank for many months to take that trip. When the plastic on the pig became so thin and stretched from the coins that my parents thought it would break, they broke it open and rolled the coins.
The hotel room had two double beds, and there were five of us, so being only four years old—and very tiny at that—I slept in the bottom dresser drawer. Mom carefully placed my socks inside my shoes so they wouldn't get lost. Unfortunately, I didn't know they were there. The next morning I put another pair of socks on and shoved my feet into the shoes with the first pair of socks stuffed in the toes of the shoes. I walked up and down the hills of San Francisco all day that way. When the shoes were removed, my mother felt so bad! She just kept telling me how sorry she was, and I remember thinking that she must really love me to make such a fuss, because Mom wasn't the kind to make a fuss over little things.
On that same San Francisco trip, my Dad saw a woman on the street selling flowers. He purchased a red carnation and pinned it to my coat. I proudly displayed that carnation until it totally disintegrated! I’m quite sure Dad never knew how much that carnation meant to me, but fifty-four years later, I can’t think about it without tearing up.
I was sick a lot when I was a kid, and a sick kid is a bored kid. Mom was really busy one day, but she stopped to make flour and water paste for me, and she gave me some old magazines. As I pasted magazine pictures onto an old scrapbook, I just knew my Mom loved me!
With my teen years came earrings. Dad was not a plumber. As a matter of fact, I don’t think there is anything my Dad disliked more than a household project. The morning I dropped one of my favorite earrings down the bathroom sink, Dad never said a word. He went to the garage for his toolbox, took the neck off the sink, and retrieved my earring. Even a rebellious teenager got the message—Dad loves me!
I’m sure that my parents didn't even remember these things in the last years of their lives, but if they did, they certainly didn't realize that these were lasting, even life-long memories for me. Each time I thought about them when I was raising my own children, I took stock of the kinds of memories I was making with my own children. It made me more aware that memories happen on a daily basis, and even an hourly basis. I don’t know what memories my children have, but I do know that I never stopped trying to show them they were loved. I especially wanted them to have memories with their Dad, so I always made sure there was plenty of “alone time” with Dad.
What memory will you make today?