My oldest and I were in Milwaukee last week and we stopped to visit my parents. My mom has this habit of sending me home with boxes of “so you don’t have to go through it when I’m gone” stuff. I put that in quotes because those are her words not mine. I wish she’d spend her time on other things but I’m thinking going through this stuff makes her happy. Most of the time it’s silly stuff but every once in a while you get something that stops you in your tracks. Thankfully this is one of those times.
Have you ever heard a song or smelled something or whatever the impact is to the senses, but it takes you back and you can draw a picture of where you were and everything so clearly it’s like you’re there again? I’d imagine most of us have. Whether it be a first ball game you went to, your first crush, or just some random event that sticks out. You remember every little detail. Chances are you can remember the sounds, the smells, the sights. This is what I got with what my mom had dug up. She showed my a harmonica.
That harmonica sent me screaming down memory lane because it’s the harmonica my grandpa Stueck played for me the last time I saw him. I was six years old when my grandpa passed, and I only have 3 or 4 good memories of the man. This is easily the most vivid. It was summer time and he was in his usual long sleeve flannel shirt tucked in and his cap on. I wish I could remember the song he was playing, but I remember thinking how cool it was that I had a grandpa that could play the harmonica. He was standing in the kitchen by the door. He was a tall man for his generation and me being so little I remember my thoughts were always that him and my dad were larger than life. I was standing in the doorway to the dining room between my parents just looking up in amazement. I remember asking to hear more, but he said that was enough for now, and he put it in his shirt pocket. We gave our hugs, and we were on our way. 33 years later, I can still go back there.
Of course all of this got me thinking, and the most prevalent thought that I kept coming back to was the power of memories. In this case, that memory of grandpa playing is something that I go back to whenever I’m thinking about things like that, but seeing the harmonica made it all the more real. Even though I never really got to know my grandpa, having that memory and being able to go back to that makes me feel like I’ve got a piece of him. I cherish that.
Memories are an amazing and powerful thing. Obviously some memories are best left in the past, but for those fond ones, what a wonderful gift you’ve been given when you have something like that to look back on.