I remember when...
Those who have read me for a few years may recall that I have some memory issues. After 30 some years, I'm use to not remembering things that I'd like very much to remember...family vacations growing up, the birth of my kids...but I can't pick and choose what I'm able to remember. But sometimes, when I do remember something, it's a little annoying to me when someone corrects that memory. Seriously, what's it hurt for me to remember something 'my' way? But some people just have to make sure that they are correct and that everyone knows it.
Recently I was invited to join a friend's family holiday gathering. I met some wonderful people and one of them was my friend's mother who was 82 years old. One of the sweetest women I've met in a very long time. As family gatherings often do, after awhile, the conversations turned to the 'remember when' stories. Mom recalled an incident of when the kids were younger and was immediately countered with 'that's not how it happened' from her husband as he retold the story the correct way. A little later she chimed in when the family was laughing about another memory of years ago and, again, her husband told her that she didn't know what she was talking about and that wasn't how things had happened. I watched this sweet old woman look away as she questioned her own recollections.
It broke my heart to see this woman's memories, memories that she had held dear for many years, be questioned and especially to see that she was now questioning them herself. I couldn't help but wonder what it would have hurt to have let this woman have those memories, right or wrong, that she had treasured. Who would it have hurt for her to have kept those memories in tact?
Sometimes, even when we know (or believe we know) that someone is wrong, maybe we should consider who it hurts to keep our mouths shut. I wonder how many of us would refrain from speaking if we stopped to think that by speaking, we were taking away someone else's joy. Few things in this world have as much power as the tongue. Our words can lift one up or tear one down, it can build or destroy and so unlike anything else in our lives, this is one thing that we can completely control. I, as much as anyone else in this world, struggle to control that power. But, especially after witnessing the change in this sweet woman's spirit from when she was recalling wonderful memories...her memories, to the split second later when she was told they were false, I will try to take longer to speak than I have before. I will try to consider whether my words are worth saying; will they build someone up or tear someone down. If there is a chance that they will tear someone down, is it really that important to speak them?
I wish there had been a way for me to have given that sweet hearted woman her memories back. As it was, all I could do was hug her, tell her that she was precious and that I was blessed to have met her. I learned a valuable lesson that day...and I hope I'll always remember it.