Recovering memories

Sometimes you don’t know someone’s life until he or she has died.   We attended a memorial service today for a man named Tak, whom we met eight or nine years ago when he was in his late seventies.  We only knew him for five years before he moved into various care facilities that served him as he went through the different stages of Alzheimer’s.  We knew him as a friendly person who was happy to welcome us into his life.  He was quiet, but could be very funny when he chose to speak.  He didn’t appear to be someone who was easily ruffled; and it was obvious that he loved his large family.

Today, a biographical account of his life, accompanied by family testimonials, filled in so many details we were not aware of, from many hardships growing up, to service in Military Intelligence during WWII, even as his family was imprisoned in an internment camp, to various successful entrepreneurial ventures.

What saddens me, besides the loss of Tak, is that he had to die for me to learn more about his life.  This brought home the fact that I know even less about my parents’ lives than I know about Tak’s life and will never learn more, since my father is deceased and my mother cannot remember the past.  At the memorial service, we talked to a couple from Tak’s generation, whom we hadn’t seen in five years.  He has had a stroke but seems to function reasonably well.  She broke her hip since we last saw her, but her mind is clear.  We promised to visit them soon.  When we do, I plan to ask them to tell us more about their lives before we met them.  It’s the only way I can think of to honor them and in a small way make it up to our elders and family members whose stories are now lost to us.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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1 Response to Recovering memories

  1. Jill Turnell says:

    Do you have any relatives – eg. cousins, aunts, etc. who might have some information about your parents’ histories? Or how about photo albums? Sometimes those are frustrating because they lack the names of the people in them. I have often thought of doing a search into the records about our family, but a cousin (by marriage) did that about my father’s family and all it turned out to be was a bunch of names that told me nothing so I’m not sure why people do it. Way back there was one who was some big government official – but even that didn’t impress me as it was – again – just a name.
    As you say, it’s the stories that we want.

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