Memories are the fabric of life … the warp and weft woven together by the ongoing experiences of life. They connect our past with our present, and help us understand ourselves.
They are snapshots of our life so far; images of our perception of the way things were. They are uniquely ours.
Some are painful, even haunting or agonising and we’d prefer to forget. Others are joyful, beautiful and strengthening. They’re the ones that can help us through the pain of losing a loved one or moving far from home.
My father died 23 years ago. I can still remember the crepe myrtle tree he planted outside my bedroom … its big mauve cloud-like blossoms framing my window each summer. I remember his patience with me as a small child as I ‘helped’ him in the garden and he painstakingly taught me so much I value today. And I remember the dolls house he made me, with handmade furniture and tiny electric lights which turned on and off with a switch by the front door.
We didn't have much money when I was growing up but on special occasions he would take me to a milk bar and we'd sit on high stools and drink lime ice cream sodas ... he took us blackberry picking as a family and we'd have blackberry pie for dinner. My dad was a memory maker.
Of course some of the best memories are spontaneous and come unbidden along the path of life and we look back and laugh … ‘remember the time’. But many memories are an investment of someone’s time, energy, imagination and sometimes money.
Arranging the sleep over, planning the treasure hunt, making time in a busy life to take the family camping or on a discovery trip, all require someone to have a dream and care enough to make it happen.
In her book, What is a Family, Edith Schaeffer said, “Building memories, and the little things that keep memories alive, are not a luxury that takes too much time and money, but need to be a definite decision on someone’s part.” I can recall reading that as a first time mum and deciding that was something I could do.
I loved doing that for my children and now I have the joy of doing that for my grandchildren. For each child’s birthday, we go on an adventure … a secret destination complete with clues … a time for just the two of us to build special memories together. And then there is the fun of saving those memories in some tangible way for them to look back on in the future.
But memory making is not just for children; it can be a way of blessing friends, neighbours, partners, adult children and even strangers. Recently my family gifted me a helicopter ride, something I’d always wanted to do. Not only did I have a fantastic and truly memorable experience but got the opportunity to make a memory for a complete stranger who happened to travel with me. It was her birthday and she was sad that her tiny phone couldn’t manage to grab the amazing scenery we were enjoying. I was able to send her lots of photos so she could look back on a birthday adventure and remember.
That’s what good memories allow is to do, live twice … once in the doing and again in the reliving. Often it’s in those unexpected moments when a fragrance, a song or a photo transport you back to a person or a place you once loved and you relive the moment.
Memories are a gift you give to others and in the giving you are enriched. Be a memory maker!
21 memory-making suggestions
- Kidnap a friend and take them for ice cream and a swing in the park – relive childhood
- Take someone from a nursing home for a drive in the country or to a favourite coffee shop – they love getting out into the ‘real world’
- Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge with a friend, then climb the Pylon and get a bird’s eye view of Sydney and learn the history of the bridge at the museum on the way to the top
- Take a garden-loving friend to a garden festival – Spring is the perfect time
- Love music? Share a free lunchtime recital at the Conservatorium of Music with a fellow music-lover
- Take your mother or father on a ‘date’ – get to spend some quality time with them
- Plan a train trip to somewhere you’ve never been and take a friend
- Eat fish and chips at the beach or by the harbour with a child
- Pick berries at a berry farm
- Be tourists for a day exploring a new part of your city or a different neighbourhood
- Art your thing? Grab a fellow art-lover and enjoy a day at the Art Gallery together
- Share a ferry ride with someone, exploring a new destination
- Do a tour - Sydney Town Hall, State Library, The Calyx glasshouse in the Botanic Gardens, Sydney, the Opera House, The Rocks, National Trust properties
- Free walking tours in Sydney and Melbourne – learn lots of interesting facts about your city
- Take a trip on the oldest commuter ferry in Australia, the "Curranulla" from Cronulla to the white sands of Bundeena
- Spend a morning or a day with someone who is lonely – take morning tea or lunch, share a book, a movie or just listen to their story
- Enjoy a museum with a child and learn with them
- Share a meal with a friend eating food from a culture neither of you have ever experienced before
- Plan a mystery tour – bus, train, ferry or walking – surprise destinations and suspense all the way – a fun lunch or picnic along the way
- A treasure hunt for children or adults – it’s as much fun planning and orchestrating it as it is for those taking part
- Discover a beach – rock pools, shell collecting, swimming or just wandering along the beach listening to the sound of the waves, the cry of the seagulls and the soul restoring power of the sea air and sand beneath your feet.
Apologies for those who don’t live in Sydney but explore an equivalent option in your city or neighbourhood.
Memory making suggestions for children in a future post.
What are your favourite memories? I'd love to hear.