ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

MEMORIAL DAY MEMORIES

It is Memorial Day, 2051.

Rebecca, a handsome middle-aged woman, stands with her children in a small community cemetery in the valley where she was born. It has been years since she has been here, and she canít help but wonder why. Every time she comes back, she wonders why she doesnít come more often. Sometimes she wonders why she ever left.

Spring is beautiful here Ė surpassingly so. From the green-covered mountains rising majestically on every side, to the lake bulging with spring runoff, stretching to cover the valley floor. Just being here speaks peace to her heart and comfort to Rebeccaís soul Ė a rare and precious thing during times teeming with callous uncertainty.

Which is part of what brought her here Ė a search for peace. But only part. She recently learned that she is about to become a grandmother Ė a thrilling, daunting prospect if ever there was one. As a result, she has found herself thinking a lot about her grandparents, and what they meant in her life. She was drawn here, as if walking among their headstones will somehow transfer their accumulated knowledge and experience to her. Of course, finding the graves in the cemetery will be the first challenging part of her search. After all, it has been years . . .

"Here they are!" Her 16-year-old son, a tall, blond, handsome young man, proclaims his discovery. In no time the family is gathered at the two headstones, reading them as if the information on them was new and interesting.

"This is my Grandpa Joseph Walker and my Grammy Anita," Rebecca announces. "I was their first grandchild, and they spoiled me constantly. I wish you could have known them."

She tells her family about her tender, loving Grammy Anita. About all of the times they played together, and talked together, and shopped together, and laughed together.

"You could just feel her love in everything she said and did," she says, almost reverently. "She was about the best grandma a little girl could have."

She pauses for a moment, lost in the crisp, clear memory of childhood outings and overnighters, her eyes moist and red. Then she wipes a tear from her cheek and shifts her focus.

"Then there was Grandpa Joe," she says, smiling. "Ah, yes. Grandpa Joe. He was a real character. He . . . he . . . he . . ."

He what?

Thatís the question Iím pondering this Memorial Day. What are the memories my granddaughter, Rebecca, and my other grandchildren will have of me 50 or so Memorial Days from now? Right now, she thinks Iím pretty terrific Ė not as terrific as her Grammy Anita, but terrific nonetheless. When she sees me she smiles. She runs to me, holding out her chubby little arms, calling out "Bampa! Bampa!"

OK, OK Ė so maybe Iím bribing her with chocolate. Allís fair in love and grandparenting.

The point is, Iím making the memories now that will be remembered at my grave-side many Memorial Days from now. So are you. Itís a simple fact of life, one I become more aware of as I grow older. And I canít help but wonder what sort of memories they will they be. Will they be pleasant? Happy? Joyful? Or will they be wistful and sad? Itís up to us Ė right now. Today.

Because by Memorial Day 2051 it will be too late.

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--- © Joseph Walker

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Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.