Saturday, June 23, 2012

Second-hand Memories

Recently I had been looking at pictures of my grandfather, Roy Kemper, many taken in the few years preceding his death. He died in his fifties when I was only about three, and I have a faint memory of him holding me on the sidewalk outside of his home and me touching his beard. It was sunny out and my mother was parked on the street. It is odd to have such a snapshot in my mind, as if I knew that would be the only memory I would have, though small and seemingly insignificant, I kept it as a treasure in my heart. 'Remember this man' my mind had told me.

He fathered six children, and lately I have had my nieces and nephew visiting, which makes five kids in my household, all his grandchildren. My mother told me that he would take time outs and go to a quiet room to escape the noise, for the sake of peace in his mind. I completely relate to that and lately have been, during mid-afternoon, retiring to my room for a time just to gather my thoughts and have a moment of relative quiet.  I have thought on him and wondered what he might have thought about. I did not know him well, and the only things I know of him are second hand.  I have seen pictures and have read words written in his own neat handwriting. Rare that he was a doctor with neat handwriting.

So thought provoking it is to wonder about the life of another who came before you. I wonder how others will recount memories of me to others who will come after me. I wonder what they will gather from clues left behind.  In this modern world I am able to record a lot more of my own thoughts, and I think on how useful that is, and how I wish that others before me had left as many clues to what thoughts they had and the insights they had on life.  Not that I would agree with them, but that their memory would be more than a name, and I could feel as though I knew them in some way.

Words are powerful things, left behind to speak for us when we are not there to speak for ourselves.  There is no changing them or amending them after we are gone.  A reminder to use them wisely.

For the family that may read this, if you have any dusty memories of him that you think I might not know, please share them with me. He is a puzzle in my mind I have long been piecing together, among others.

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