Altar Call Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 27, 2007

Memories Add Sweetness to the Journey as our Graduates Will Learn

My wife Dean has a remarkable memory. She remembers the color of a favorite dress when she was two or three years old. She can describe vividly a fight between a cat and a dog when she was a little girl and the names of the cat and the dog. Friends and neighbors who lived on her street when she was small are easily remembered. On the other hand I can hardly remember being a little boy.

The gift of memory is a wonderful thing. Memories add both joy and sadness to our days and help us find meaning when life is a drag. To wake up one day with amnesia would be horrifying. The longer we live, the more enjoyable it is to remember the house where we were born, the scene outside the window of our bedroom, and the pets we loved as we grew up. I do remember the small room that was my bedroom growing up and the certificate on the wall certifying that I was a member of the Lone Ranger Safety Club.

One special memory which my wife and I share is recalling our school teachers. We met in the first grade, went to school together, and our teachers were very special to us. We talk often about how our teachers shaped our lives. Memories of Mrs. Melton, Mrs. Caldwell, and Mr. Wingett are so precious to us.

Some things I do remember well. I remember watching men roll their own cigarettes. Some fellows were good at it. They would peel off a piece of paper from a book of cigarette paper, thump a line of Prince Albert tobacco from a red can, lick the edge of the paper, and gently roll it between their fingers. The result was a fine "home made" cigarette. The spit from the man's tongue was the glue that held the cigarette together.

I remember our family gathering in the kitchen when I was a boy while my Dad tried to let us listen to a Joe Louis fight on the radio. There was so much static that we heard very little, but still it was a big event for our family to listen as the Brown Bomber knocked out another opponent. None of us ever dreamed of such a thing as television back then.

I can easily recall the time my first cousin, Buck Johnson, died in a truck accident. He was only 13, and it was my introduction to death. Buck's death was almost more than my Uncle Seth and Aunt Kathleen could stand. The tragic death of their son altered their lives forever. I was a little older than Buck. I was shocked that life could be snatched away so suddenly by a stupid accident. Buck's death abruptly ended the happy times we shared playing together when our families shared a meal. Looking back, we realize that some days and events were happy and some sad. That is the nature of life; it is a mixture of good and evil, fortune and misfortune. We may not be able to forget all the bad days but we can decide which set of memories will be treasured.

We can refuse to let our dreadful memories hoist the highest flag in our minds. We can choose to favor our joyful memories and, with grateful hearts, celebrate the good days rather than the bad. We can give thanks for the lessons taugh to us by adversity. We can rejoice that we can cling to joy in the midst of pain, even if sometimes we are holding on by our fingernails.

If we are wise we will say to our Creator, "Thanks for the memories." Without them life would be unbearable. We can resolve not to spend all our energy making money, but find new ways to make memories that can add to the sweetness of our journey. At the end that can tip the scales in favor of joy.

The graduates we honor in this season may want to stop for a moment and look backward before moving forward. If they take the time to ask, they might learn a thing or two about memories from those of us who are near the end of the journey they are just beginning. + + + +