Thursday, January 27, 2011

As Precious As Gold

Photo by Jeff Norris
The other night I read my son the book “Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge”, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas. It is a wonderful book about a young boy who lives next to a nursing home. His parents tell him that is favorite resident in the home, Miss Nancy, has lost her memory. Wilfrid wants to know what a memory is so he asks every one of his friends from the nursing home. Each person has some wisdom to share with him, such as memory is something that makes you cry, something that makes you laugh, and something from long ago. Then Wilfrid goes home and collects items which represent these different elements of memory, such as a puppet that makes him laugh, and seashells from a trip he took long ago. He brings all of these items to Miss Nancy, in the hopes that he has found her memory, and he has. Each item brings memories back to her of stories of her life that she shares with Wilfrid. It is a beautiful book, one to have in your library.

As we were reading the book, my son responded to each of the ways the elders defined memory. He questioned that memories make you cry, but then we talked about how maybe sad memories do make you cry. He agreed that sometimes memories do make you laugh. The last definition of memory was the one he most identified with though.

The last person Wilfrid asks “What’s a memory?” replies “Something as precious as gold. “ to which my son smiled and immediately said, “That is so true!”

I was struck by the fact that my son defines memory as more than the basic definition of  its as an event that you remember, but instead understood how valuable memories are to a person. How did he come to this understanding? Is it because his mother takes pictures of and scrapbooks just about everything? Is it because he lives with his grandmother who is losing her memories? I am sure he sees how hard it is for her. Is it because he knows she values him as being as precious as gold and never wants to lose her memory of him?

I don’t know exactly why or how he can understand at the center of his being that memories are as precious as gold, but I am glad that he does. He continues to amaze me with his insights about life.


Rev. Katie

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katie, and blessings...

    This might shed some light--act three of this

    David MacLean's experience sheds some fascinating light on how memory identifies not merely others and our past, but tells us who we are, and even what we are. It's very powerful. I'm looking forward to his book.

    Perhaps this is your son's insight, even if it's not articulated. Perhaps it's because of your family's situation and experience; his grasping that memory is something that informs you of your identity--and that's more precious than gold, and certainly more precious than merely remembering an event.

    Patrick McLaughlin