Experiences, Not Memories

by Randy Murray on December 12, 2013

As a father, a parent, one of the things that I hear a lot is about “making memories” for your children. But that is one thing that you cannot do.

A memory is something completely personal. You cannot predict how someone, particularly a child, will interpret and remember an event. Memories are tricky things. When you review your own memories are they things that other people made for you? Of course not. They are yours alone. If you and other people at the same event later discuss what you remember, you will likely find things in common, but also many, many unique impressions and sensations.

You can’t make memories for anyone else.  What can you do?

Do things. The memories take care of themselves.

My daughters are adults now. I love them so much. And I am proud of them beyond the ability I have to express it. I know what I remember of them as children, but I do not know what they remember. Sometimes they’ll share a memory with me, but I know that they hold something back for themselves. I do when I share my memories.

We gathered as a family this Thanksgiving in New York City where my oldest daughter, Kathleen, now lives. Our youngest, who will be twenty-one in a few days, joined us from her college in Providence, Rhode Island. We had a great time and enjoyed the city and the sights through the long weekend. On the last night, returning from a Broadway show, my wife and I trailed behind as our two girls walked ahead, laughing and stepping lightly through the cold New York night. What they’ll remember of that brief walk, if they remember it at all, might be anything. But for me it was a moment of pure joy. It connected to my memories of them as little girls. They’re four years apart. Sometimes they argue and fight as siblings do, but here they were, happy, friendly, and with a closeness that only family can share.

That, for me, is a precious memory. For them it might just have been a walk from the subway. I didn’t plan it. No one made it. But for me it was the highlight of the trip.

Do things. The memories take care of themselves.


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