Is the past gone forever…. or is there life after death?
Tonight I was standing outside my son’s home adding my contribution to climate change while polluting my lungs and for some reason my mind drifted, (it does this quite a bit lately), to my father and memories I have of him. When I turned back to look inside the house at my granddaughter I wondered just how she would remember me. I think what will imprint most will be the many trips to the yard to have a cigarette, not the little talks we had about nothing in particular. Not the moments when grandpop actually managed to get down on the floor and spent time admiring her creative efforts or for that matter the words of praise when she would show me a book she just finished reading or a new color on her Tae-kwon-do belt, and I had to wonder why? In some cultures elders are revered and stories about their lives are passed from one generation to the next. Not that I am even remotely a figure to be revered but now our young never learn of their grandparents or great grandparents lives or accomplishments.
The green bowl in the lead picture is a case in point. It is an old worn and scratched Pyrex bowl with the imprint ‘made in America’ circa 1950’s. To most people nowadays it would no doubt be treated as trash, but to me it is a link to wonderful past memories of my mother. On first sight it evoked a memory of the hundreds of times my mother made chocolate pudding from scratch. I could even for an instant smell the rich aroma and remember ‘cutting’ the tick layer of pudding crust from the top of that dessert. Or more poignantly the last time she made Lithuanian cold beet soup. This memory is a two edge soward because I videotaped her as she made the soup in that bowl and a couple months later she passed away. But this is what I am writing about… memories not only about certain Christmas rituals, but the lives of parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
In most early cultures around the world children would be told ‘stories’ of the elders lives and adventures almost on a daily basis. Even today in Alaska in some of the remote villages the young men of the village are taught how to hunt or fish based on the traditions of their elders. This ‘knowledge’ that may have been passed down for many generations is now in danger of being lost forever. With todays fast paced culture parents rarely take the time to ‘tell stories’ of their parents or grandparents to their children, because most of them, both parent and child, have their heads buried in their tablets or phones. So to take some time to talk about grandmom Mary and her lifes strugles and accomplishments now seems boring to them.
I feal we should find a way to make these past lives interesting enough that our children will hold onto those stories and they themselves will pass the stories on to their children. For when you keep alive the past of our ancestors they will never truly be gone.
I have walked the snow capped mountains here in Alaska
floated down its majestic rivers
walked side by side with wolves, bear and moose
and during all this time
my father, mother and wife were with me
in my heart and soul
and they will never die as long as my heart beats.