Why Bother to Recall Those Who Leave Their Impression?

 

Why Bother to Recall Those Who Leave Their Impression?

People remember people who leave lasting impressions on them. Good or bad, the memory remains and is called up in one’s mind on specific occasions.

“I remember my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Schneldon,” a friend says after I tell him I am teaching fourth grade. 

“Who remembers the name of their fourth grade teacher?” I ask because I don’t remember my fourth grade’s teacher’s name.

“Oh I remember her because she slapped the school’s bully right across the mouth one day and I’ll never forget the sound of that slap or how that kid never bullied anybody again. That teacher ended his career.” A good memory for my friend, maybe not such a good one for the bully. But we all have someone who has left us with something.

She left her mark on me

One such person who left their imprint on my life, in more ways than one, was my Grandma Weber. I easily recall her whenever someone compliments my posture, tells me I’m a good listener or marvels at how well organized I seem to be. 

Whenever someone says, “You sit up so straight,” or “I never see you slouching,” the image of my grandma and her poise come back into view. She always sat on the edge of her chair, back straight, shoulders squared and head held level. She kept her ankles crossed, seemingly ready to spring into action if necessary. Even the soft seat of a Lazy-Boy did not tempt her to lean back and relax her pose. 

She walked in the same manner; a straight back straight, shoulders square and her head held up. Her steps were quick, and purposeful. She walked without arrogance or dread.  

I don’t know when I consciously began modeling her way of carrying oneself, I just know that her way became my exemplar.

When I am told, “You are such a good listener,” the credit goes back again to my grandma.  Oftentimes in my tumultuous teen years, I rode my bike to her house where I knew I’d find the one who would not only lend me their ear, but extend some understanding and make me a root beer float too.  

Grandma heard my complaints against my mother, God and the world at large without scolding or correcting me. Instead, she allowed me to state my case, and unfurl my furry. Somehow she knew that her mission was to listen, and not to change me or the circumstances. She was my wise confidant. From her I learned how to sensibly hear another’s objections about the world at large without attempting to change a thing about them or their world. 

I don’t think my grandma ever read a book about how to organize her life, but she knew was the most organized person in my life. She ordered her work according to the days of the week; wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, shopping on Thursday, house cleaning on Friday, bake on Saturday, write letters to family on Sunday. Even though my schedule is not like hers, watching her keep her schedule showed me how to bring and keep my life in order.  

Why bother to recall those people who leave us with an impression?  It is worth it to remember that without them, we’d have less to give to others.  

Hopefully, my students will leave my classroom imprinted with walking without dread or arrogance, bending an ear to hear another and keeping order in their lives.

Why Bother Remembering Where You Came From?

Why bother remembering where you came from?

I never met my great grandmother, Frances. She lived in Idaho while I lived in Nebraska and died when I was seven. I don’t know much of her back story except for what I have read in a booklet one of my great aunts scribed after Frances’s death. 

Frances was born in Humphrey, Nebraska in 1882 and married Henry, a farmer in 1902. They rented six different farms from the eastern end of Nebraska to the western end for the next twenty-three years before they left and moved to Idaho. During those two decades, Frances birthed seventeen children, and buried three of them before they reached one year of age.  

 Feeding her family three meals a day, Frances baked twenty-four loaves of bread a week plus up to five loaves of coffee cake for Sundays. They raised chickens for eggs and meat. She would have had to butcher four or five of those birds just for a Sunday dinner. 

Following her husband from farm to farm, burying three babies, and cooking for her large family day in and day out was a life that required hard work, diligence and determination. But there is a story which I believe, shows an empathic side to Frances as well.

Sometimes the children would hire themselves out to other farmers; hoeing a garden for $1.00 a day, or earning ten cents a day to cut asparagus. The money earned was supposed to go toward staples for the family. But one daughter didn’t follow the rules and instead, bought herself a dress with some of her money. 

This upset Henry, but Frances sympathized with her daughter. She told her husband that she’d earned the money and deserved the dress. 

It seems that a little gentleness in harsh times leaves a lasting imprint in someone’s life. Frances’ daughter recalled this about her mother even as she neared the end of her own life. 

Though I didn’t know her, Frances is part of my lineage. She may have never thought too much about me, but I’ve thought about how her life is a moral benefit to mine. 

 Like Frances, I married and stayed beside the same man through lean and profitable years. I raised children that strengthened my character maybe more than theirs. And every day I still go to work not just because of the monetary gain, but because I believe the work I do is important. 

Remembering Frances also brings to mind the thousand and one possibilities in a day to understand someone else’s predicament and extend a little empathy. 

Why bother remembering where you came from? It is worth it to recall one’s lineage because someday we’ll all be gone too, and I’d like my lineage to be worth remembering.