Making Memories

Jaren and Mom enjoying tomatoes from the garden

Yesterday, Jeff received a call that shocked us both. A local man in his sixties,  who had befriended Jeff almost as soon as he came to Holbrook and who, with his wife,  planned to have dinner at our house this week,  died unexpectedly during the night. His physical self-care had been exemplary because he feared the heart issues in his family history.  There were no signs of illness or discomfort when he went to bed, but he awoke in the early morning in distress, woke his wife, and died before anyone could reach him with help.

Holbrook lost a positive, friendly, out-reaching member of its community with his death and of course, his family lost husband and father. I’m sure they’re still unvelieving and in shock. Jeff will preach the funeral sermon on Monday.

When someone dies in this quick, unexpected manner, the reminder of our own presence here as resident aliens who have no permanent home on this earth is vivid. We don’t expect lives to end so abruptly, leaving our plans and projects unfinished. We ask ourselves what we’d better get accomplished just in case, what item on our bucket list seems the most urgent, what we want to be sure to do or resolve in the time remaining to us. In a few weeks, I’m sure we’ll have let this sense of urgency slip away, but we talked quite a bit yesterday evening, in between trick-or-treaters, about what we want to do with the unknown segment of time that remains to us.

One of my goals, I decided, was making memories with people I love. For instance, right after we finished our vacation this fall, our daughter, son in law, and their four children came to visit. We had a lot of ripe tomatoes in the garden, so I asked if they’d like to help pick them. A couple of the children discovered that even if tomatoes in general are not their favorite vegetables, the sun ripened versions direct from the vine are a different case. Two year old Jaren ate and ate and ate, leaving the evidence around his mouth, as you can see in the photo. In fact, the next morning when I got up and went looking for him, I found him next to the tray of tomatoes we’d brought inside, munching happily. We dug a few tiny potatoes, too, and the kids were astonished to see where and how they grew. I think they’ll remember this experience with the garden for a long time–a positive memory of their grandparents’ home. I liked that. I want to do more of it.

It’s wise not to worry too much about the possibility of unexpected death, of course. We don’t want to be morbid. But it’s also good to be reminded sometimes of the simple brevity of life, to focus on things that need to be done while there is light to do them. Obviously, our spiritual lives are first priority; if we have not made peace there, we need to do so without delay. But beyond that highest priority, there are things we may want to do and changes we may want to make in the way we live.  So let’s remember that our time is not unlimited. Let’s do those things and make those changes now. Just in case.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jeff Johnson on November 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Beautiful, Mar!


  2. Posted by Howard on November 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Many heart attacks happen at night while sleeping. A bottle aspirin, and some water immediately at hand will save lives. Chew and swallow at least two 320 mg. aspirins at the first sign of discomfort. Nothing wrong with planning for death, but living is usually preferable.


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