Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

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the last thing remembered — May 12, 2021

the last thing remembered

Old age is a sorter of memories and it’s interesting what gets sifted out.  I interviewed a sweet new friend recently.  Though he is over 90, he is possibly sharper than I am. 

But he struggled some with memory issues.  He could tell me about his children, and his grandkids and his devoted wife who had passed. 

But then I asked him what he had done for a living.  He stopped and pondered – and eventually said, “Well I don’t know.” 

So odd.  Why did time sift out that huge chunk of his memory?

My dad was also stumped when I asked the same question.  He was in his eighties – also struggling with memory issues.   He had spent most of his working his life as a truck driver and did some mechanic work on the side.

6 days and 60 to 70 hours a week he gave to his work.  And he did it well.  He was highly regarded by his bosses and admired by his fellow employees.  He put not everything, but an awful lot into it.  I have many memories of watching him leave us to go to work. 

But at age 87, he could not remember what he did for all those years.  He could still remember his family – but not the Keebler Biscuit Company.  

Why is that? 

Don’t know, but I can guess. 

The job gave him callused hands and a paycheck.  Sustenance!  Certainly, necessary for the care and feeding of his brood, but in the end – it was just a job. 

The family gave him more. Significance!  He married an auburn-haired beauty who forsook all to take up life with him.  She admired him and believed in him and stood by him through thick and thin.   She touched his soul.   They spent over 60 memory packed years together

He gave life to 5 kids who idolized him and took every opportunity to wrestle him to the floor.   They made him laugh and cry!  His values shaped theirs and it was with immense pride that he launched each one.  Their success or failure became the barometer reading of his heart.  

And then there were the grandkids and the greats.  What’s not to love and cherish?

Work had its memories to be sure – 60-70 weekly hours of boring routine occasionally interrupted with grumbling over the boss or the union dues. 

His memories of the family, on the other hand, were so much richer and multifaceted and rewarding and emotionally engaging and they touched every area of his existence. 

So why did he and why do I and most every other adult I know allow that which will be forgotten to crowd out that which will be remembered? 

In the book of Proverbs old Solomon wrote, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.”

Prov 18:22   I have scoured the Scripture and have failed to find a particular job that was acclaimed in this way.

As far as kids, the Psalmist said, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.”  Psalm 127:3   A job is a responsibility – kids are a reward. 

He went on to say, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”  (127:4) In other words, an older person is protected and sustained by the children he sired in his youth. 

He caps it off by saying, “How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”  Ps 127:5. The man with many children is blessed.  The man with many jobs is not.  He may be overworked and wealthy, but he is not blessed.

I am semi-retired but still working.  Yet, I have determined that from now on my family will get my best.  If work gets in the way, then work will go.  Too little too late – I know.    

You, however, may be able to adjust your priorities sooner.  Do it!   Give the best of your heart to your family instead of your work.  The reward is far greater and the memories longer lasting. 

A PRAYER: Lord a commitment like this is hard to keep.  Help me guard it with my life.

All Scripture references from the New American Standard Updated

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