When my father passed away 30 years ago, I wanted to keep one of his hats. He was from a generation where if a man went outside, he wore a hat. I remember several years after his passing that I picked up one of his hats and held it to my face. I could still smell a faint hint of his presence. His distinctive dad-smell still permeated the hat, releasing a flood of memories. A few years ago, I gave my father’s hat to my daughter Anna. The hat no longer carries the scent of my father.
A lot of the physical representations of life will fade over time. Just like my father’s hat, the image of a loved one’s face might require extra effort to recall after years of their passing. The memory of their life will never fade.
As I prepare to celebrate my 70th birthday in a few days, I am pondering my life and legacy more and more with each passing day. Someday, my wife and children will hold a garment or one of my baseball hats to their face and take in a lingering reminder of my life. At some point, that physical reminder will be gone just like my physical body. What remains will be the memories we shared together.
As the New Year approaches, ask the Lord to help you build memories that will last forever and not require your physical presence to maintain their remembrance. Some of my favorite memories were created with my father in the spur of the moment without a plan. They are memories we experienced simply because we loved each other in the moment and allowed that love to find its expression in the daily events of life. The simple memories in our lives can carry the most profound impact.