Forget-me-not November 15 2015 2 Comments

Most of us want to leave a legacy of some sort after we are gone – at least to be remembered well by our family and friends.

I and many of my friends are at a time in our lives where we now are memory keepers for someone we love.

This past week has reminded me that the task is as heartbreaking and painful as it is rewarding and enlightening.

My father passed away three years ago. My niece wrote the beautiful piece that follows as a tribute to him. Today, her feelings strike a fresh chord with me and my siblings, as they will with any other "memory keepers".

A Melody of Memory and Forgetting

                                                        by Janna Brown

Once upon a time...
a time of memory and forgetting...there was a boy.

This was no ordinary boy for he could whistle
to the tune of the sweetest bird-songs.
He could dance like stars glittered in his shoes
—his feet brightly hopped and turned,
leaving trails of twinkling behind.

The boy collected shells from the seashore and he would watch boats coming back from far away lands—wondering what sights they had seen inthe time that had passed.

He would cruise down the steepest of hills on his bicycle and in night-dreams he did tricks on a flying trapeze.

Because he was just that extraordinary, the boy also loved storms. The loudest, clapping thunders and the most startling lightening, made his heart go pitter-patter with excitement.

In awe of the world, he imagined how a universe could stage this spectacular show.

It was a time of memory.

During day-hours, the boy collected moments until his pockets were filled. 
      Like the lightest of feathers 
these memories did not weigh him down.

He was happy.

And every so often for some curious reason,
he would whistle a tune with the sweetest of bird-songs, a melody with words that went,

“Long ago and far away,
   I dreamed a dream one day...
      And now that dream is here beside me.”

And another time of memory followed.

But this was no ordinary man, you see.
For he would whistle sweetly the birdsongs of his youth and it made others ask themselves what he had—making that the very best and happiest day of all.

Oh, he could dance with glittering stars in his shoes!

At dizzying speeds he would DANCE —in a waltzing, fox trot and Balboa swing. He did a hop-pity-drop and the jitterbug.

He loved the water and he learned how to sail. With the greatest of ease, he followed the winds wherever they led.

One day, he sailed in a current of love, which filled his heart with affection and belonging. He found a special person—a beautiful woman indeed.

The man became husband.

He adored storms. The man waited for the loudest, clapping thunders and he stood in doorways with his Love —arms clasped around her. You see, she had never known the beauty of thunder and lightening and so he stayed with her until there was no reason to tremble. Together, two hearts went pitter-patter at the sight of the universe’s show.

During the day-hours, the man collected moments until his pockets were filled.
      Like the lightest of feathers
these memories did not weigh him down.

He was happy.

When love-winds brought him a little boy and two little girls to care for, he shared what he had and happily filled their pockets with feather memories too.

And every so often for some curious reason, he would whistle the tune with the sweetest of bird-songs, a melody with words that went,

“Long ago and far away,
   I dreamed a dream one day...
      And now that dream is here beside me.”

The father may have looked like an ordinary man—a man with a tie, and a hat, and mustache. Everyone that truly knew him, however, saw the little boy was still there. He could whistle to the tune of the sweetest bird-songs. He danced with a shining step of twinkling trails.

On summer trips he would delight the children with ice cream cones for he had a sweet tooth. The father’s favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie with sugarcane drops on a puff, miles-high.

During the day-hours he was forever collecting moments until his pockets were filled.
      Like the lightest of feathers
these memories did not weigh him down.

He was happy.

Years in the time of memory passed. The boy, who had become a man, had become a husband, and father, and a grandfather too.

He would delight his grandbabies with a bird-whistle song. He danced with them— twirling, and dipping, and clapping, and laughing until tears streamed down his face.

For the grandfather was really still a boy inside.

And it was still a time of memory.

The grandfather taught his grandchildren between right and wrong. He said, “Leaving a rake face down on the ground is an accident waiting to happen!” but his lessons were followed with a wink and a smile. He also showed how to be courteous with”...as every gentleman says Good-day.” The grandfather had such fine manners.

Then times changed.

It was the time of forgetting.

This happened so slowly—so quietly even—that it was hard for the man to tell.

There were signs. Little details faded and memories, the lightest of feathers, were drifting out of his pockets. They were floating away.

And the man was worried because the ease he had felt to follow the wind wherever it led was fleeting.

There were so many bits of information stacked into one day, one hour, one moment even... and these were tumbling around him.

In the time of forgetting there were many illusions and instead of following a line, time was a spiral, spiral, spiral.

The glittering stars in his shoes—were losing their luster. His feet felt the weight of them. He asked a lot of questions but the cruelest part of the time of forgetting was that as soon as an answer was in his hands and head, it stole away again.

And the man felt like he was of no use because he could not remember.

He made up tricks for himself. He wrote the names of people on a list and kept them in his front pocket. When he forgot how to add his sums, he used the same amounts of money to pay for things. He told clever jokes and made people laugh to distract them from the fact he might have been lost.

In the time of forgettng, he was worried.

Yet, because this was no ordinary man, you see, he was still collecting moments. Magically, he returned to days gone by in his mind—and what an adventure that was.

In the time of forgetting there was a spiral, spiral, spiral.

The man was almost like his boy-self again— asking for two slices of his favourite pie.

And every so often for some curious reason, he would whistle the tune with the sweetest of bird-songs, a melody with words that went,

“Long ago and far away,
   I dreamed a dream one day...
      And now that dream is here beside me.”

In the time of forgetting, no one really knew where his dreams took him. This was a mystery and the man did not use words so very often as before.

But he could still sing.

When the time of forgetting was too heavy to bear, the man asked the family to be his wind.

This is what they said:
“The light as feather memories
   May be falling away on the breeze,
   out of your pockets before you can catch them,
      but we have feathers in our pockets too.
      You have given us memories—
      your feathers—and we hold them for you.”

The man thought about this for a moment—an eternity, really— and he realized the time of forgetting was not all heaviness.

This boy who was a man and a husband, father, grandfather, and even greatgrandfather left a trail of goodness around him all the way along. Just like the twinkling dance steps of his youth and the eternal melodies, he had not lost his character but had shared it with those he loved.

And they promised to be the dream beside him—the curious tune he had imagined years before. They sang for him with the sweetest of bird-songs, a melody with words that went,

“Long ago and far away,
   I dreamed a dream one day...
      And now that dream is here beside us.”                                         

                                 Kern, Jerome & Ira Gershwin, “Long Ago (and far away)” 

              Performed by Frank Sinatra. 1944.

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