Quarters, Comics, and Teacups – The Power of Memory
My friend Sue is becoming certified as a life coach. Last week, her mentor gave her an assignment in which she had to ask ten people to describe a time when she was at her best. This was a challenging request for those of us who are her friends — there are so many times to choose from! One memory, though, that especially moved her was offered by her youngest brother.
He shared the memory of a time when he’d lost a tooth and he woke up upset that the “tooth fairy” hadn’t left any quarters. Sue got some quarters and sprinkled them about his room when he wasn’t looking. She explained that the tooth fairy must have had a busy night and was running late. Although he was on to her, she made him feel loved and cared for – and that’s when she was always at her best.
Last year I officiated a memorial service for the father of my friend, Ruth. I’d known her dad, though not as well as many who attended. I listened intently as they told their stories about him. For decades he’d been a well-known and respected doctor in Lancaster. He and his wife, Ruth’s mom, had an open-door policy for all the neighborhood kids.
One of those former kids, now a university science professor, shared one of his fondest memories – of how Ruth’s dad had a box full of comic books near one of the bookcases in his den. This science professor said that his love for reading started with that bin of comics.
And then just the other day, I was talking with my niece Mary who told me that she thought of me when she was at the mall. Seems she was babysitting a neighbor’s five-year-old girl and decided to take her to the mall’s carousel. She reminded me that when she and her sister Gracie had been that age, I’d take them to that same carousel and put them in the teacups and turn the wheel so hard that we always were the fastest spinning cup – much to the horror of her parents! She said she gave this girl the same treat.
Three different people. Three different occasions. Three different memories. Hidden quarters; a bin of comics; spinning teacups. Each memory is of such a small and seemingly insignificant experience. And, yet, each experience had such a holding influence on each person.
Our lives are shaped by ordinary moments that are made extraordinary by people loving and mindful. That’s the truth and mystery of life.
So, when were you at your best? Go ahead and ask some trusted friends or family or even colleagues and let yourself be surprised.
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