Bill and I got for Christmas one of the best gifts ever from our kids, their spouses, and grandkids! It seems it was their solution to giving something meaningful to parents who are in the “riddin’ out” phase of our lives, as Bill’s Aunt Lillie used to say. We hear it was Amy who came up with the idea, but eventually all three of them, their spouses, and all of the grandkids (ages 9-26) eagerly signed on.
What we received when we got together at Benjy’s and Melody’s house for our big Christmas dinner was a huge glass jar filled with folded slips of paper. They all seemed to hold their breath while Suzanne explained that this was our main gift. Each person—all 13 of them—had been given color designed paper on which to write their best memories growing up with Bill and me on our homeplace.
What a joyful adventure we have been on ever since! Each morning while we are having coffee in our old farm kitchen, Bill and I take out a handful of slips of paper and take turns reading the “memories” aloud. Then we sort them into piles from each person. We have laughed. We have cried. We have giggled at each experience remembered by each of these thirteen very different personalities.
Almost every day since Christmas, we have texted or called various contributors to say how much their memory of life on this hillside has meant to us. We can’t wait to eventually reread each stack of memories from each separate person. They are such unique personalities that each collection of memories will be better than a personality profile or DNA test.
The beauty of this very special gift is the assurance that all those years of trying to make memorable their experiences in this house we built 54 years ago, actually have become treasured memories to them. Little do they know that we could fill another jar with our memories of and with each of them!
When we watch the snow fall and stack high on the iron framework of the slide and swing set, when we see how tall the maples, oaks, and pines have grown that we planted when Benjy was six, when I pick daffodils Mia and Liam helped me plant, or hang the child-sized hammock we got for Madeleine, our hearts are flooded with the moments God has allowed us to have here as a family.
We are ambushed by memories from behind every hedge, from the “fishin’ rock” by the creek, and in the English garden. They will never know the joy and richness each of them has brought to our lives. And best of all, now we know they remember, too!