I delivered a eulogy at my brother’s funeral this week, not something I had ever dreamt I would have to do but something that I knew I wanted to do for him after hearing of his passing. The eulogy was themed around memories because that is all you are left with, apart from photos. Strangely despite having some, but not many, photos of my brother the picture I have of him in my memory is not one of those. This made me think about how powerful memories were and what memories we leave behind.
Would we want to know what people’s memories are of us? I suspect we would want to know the good ones but not the not so good ones; the ones where you said or did something that had a lasting (bad) impression. How many times have we said or done something and hoped that by saying sorry or just forgetting about it that memory will go away? Do we have more of those moments in our lives? Sometimes it feels that way for me. I shudder with memories of losing my temper, saying things in the heat of a moment, or doing something that was unfair or unkind. It is often the memory of a hurt look in someone’s eyes that remains, not necessarily what caused that hurt that remains.
However on the flip side of that are those lovely memories where you know you have done something nice; the times when a smile, a touch or a word has made you feel that you really made an impact on a person. It is often those small gestures or kindnesses that resonate the most with people. I know it was the little things that my brother did or said that are the things that people have remembered the most. Grand gestures may make the giver feel good about themselves but I am not sure the receiver cherishes those as much, they are less personal.
We have so many photos of our children and recently when looking through them they certainly prompted memories of the times when they were taken. The afternoon spent trawling through them was so much fun, we laughed at the daft poses, clothes, or situations that the photos depicted. There weren’t any bad or sad memories from them, they were all lovely and often very funny.
We are lucky that today so much is recorded for posterity as we snap pictures at every opportunity, recording every moment. One thing is for sure though that whilst we might have the photos it is the memories that are the most powerful and long after a photo has faded or been deleted, a memory will continue.