Blessed is the person who recognizes when happy memories are being born.
In the summer of 1960 my father, mother, brothers, a friend and I went to Devil’s Den, a rock formation park outside of Tishomingo, Oklahoma. It was privately owned and consisted of huge boulders in weird positions. They either looked like something or had a historical significance. Belle Star, among other notorious characters, used to hide out from the law there.
We had the brochure with the numbered formations and a brief explanation of their significance. My dad, who for some reason had my mother’s purse hanging in the crook of his elbow, stood in front of us staring at two huge rocks pressed together. Mom had the brochure and was trying to figure out what its title meant.
“You Name It” was what the brochure called it with no further details.
Suddenly she burst out laughing.
“I get it!” she shouted, looking first at my father’s backside and then at the two rocks squashed together. “It’s an old man’s fat behind!”
Even my father had to laugh at that one.
I was twelve years old and all of a sudden time grasped this was a moment to remember. It was the last time the entire family went some place for fun together. In a couple of years Mom would be dead of cancer, I drifted away from my friend because we had different interests, and my brothers and Dad just drifted away.
In 1985, my wife, son, daughter, mother-in-law and I went to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The day was nice, but what struck me as a memory I should keep was when we were walking out. I held my year-old daughter with one arm on my hip and held my 11-year-old son’s hand with the other. Instinctively I knew this would never happen again exactly this way. As my daughter grew up we held hands a lot when we left amusement parks, walking ahead of the slow pokes, my wife and son. Now she’s all grown up and living in New York. My son is an old hairy-legged prison guard. It would not be the same holding hands with him today as it was back when he was eleven.
A few years ago, my wife, son, daughter, her husband and my grand-nephew went to Disney Hollywood at Christmas. Again at the end of a long day of having fun I stopped a moment to look back up the street at the fire works going off over the park with all its decorations. First I knelt down with my grand-nephew who was six and told him to take a hard look at all the sounds and colors so he could remember this as one of the good times.
Then I took each of the others to the middle of the street and said the same thing to them. The two guys smiled and went along with the old man’s odd moment. My wife gave me a nice kiss, but my daughter looked at me and blurted out, “Oh my God! You’re going to die.”
“Well, I wasn’t planning on it, at least not anytime soon.”
“But that’s the type of thing someone says just before they die,” she insisted.
It was still a nice moment to remember.
The point of all this is to remind you that no matter how busy you are and how tight the family budget is this year, make sure you do something fun with your family. You’ll be glad to have the memories later.