I just read that November 23rd is the National Day of Listening. This intrigued me so I turned to the almighty Google to learn more.
It appears that the Friday after Thanksgiving has been declared a day to listen – actually LISTEN to the people who surround you and hear their stories. It’s a time to record and/or video interviews with your family or friends or even stories about your community. What a fabulous idea!
You know, it sometimes seems like the people we love will be with us forever, and there’s always tomorrow to listen to their stories, but as you get older you realize that life doesn’t always work that way.
One of my greatest listening memories was with my Mom and helping her sort through hundreds of photos that she stored in shoe boxes. Yes, that’s right, shoe boxes! You see, this was a time before cell phones or computers, so we actually printed our photographs. My Mom had three shoe boxes overflowing with photos. Neither my brothers nor I had any idea who the people were smiling back at us in these photographs. So, for several afternoons in a row, I sat with my Mom as, one by one, I held up a photo and said: “Mom, can you tell me who this is?”
Now, by this time, my Mom had developed dementia and couldn’t remember what she had for lunch, but she could remember with great detail what happened fifty years ago. And so I listened to her stories. I never thought of recording them, and to this day, that is one of my greatest regrets. One thing I do have, though, are those wonderful memories, sitting on her patio with the warmth of the sun shining down on us, hearing the stories of her best friend, Ann, and the fights she had with her sister, and how she met my father. Those moments we shared together are priceless and those memories will stay with me forever.
So now we come to today and this age of technology. All we have to do is pull out our cell phone and hit the record button. Young and old, we all have stories. Here’s to capturing some of them. I can’t go back and record my Mom’s voice, but I sure can start today and gather a lifetime of memories with the people who still surround me.