We all have memories; memories are very important to us. Memories of our parents and other people who were significant to us while we were growing up helped us make decisions about who and what to become as adults. Memories of things that we did with those same individuals help us stay rooted with the past so that our lives maintain a sense of continuity. Memories of the past often help us deal with the realities of the present. Memories may also simply help sooth us during troubled times.

While I was thinking of memories in a general sense recently I became aware that the song, “The Circle Won’t Be Broken”, by the late Johnny Cash, was playing on my car radio. It has always been one of my favorites because my own family was very musical when I was a child. The theme of the song is that the singer, as the only surviving member of his family of origin, is reminiscing about the family singing together when he and his late brother were children. The refrain says it all: “Daddy sang bass, Momma sang tenor, me and Little Brother would join right in there, sometimes singin’ helps to soothe a troubled soul. One of these days, and it won’t be long, I’ll rejoin them in a song. Oh the circle won’t be broken at the throne...” That phrase contains religious implications, end of life implications, good old fashion reminiscing, and a grammatical error that makes the old professor blush but that I’m certain didn’t bother Mr.Cash a great deal.

I seem to spend a lot of time remembering as I get older. It’s not that I just sit around and dream of times gone by; I frequently experience something that reminds me of similar experiences in my own life. The Johnny Cash song serves as a good example. Of course, Johnny Cash and I have completely different ideas about an afterlife, so I have no concept that my family will reunite in song. That said, I must admit that I would love to hear my father’s Irish tenor harmonize with my mother’s beautiful alto while my brother holds the melody. Back then, I accompanied the others on the piano and tried not to play wrong keys. We made some music of which I am still proud. Of course, there are no existing recordings, so it’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

The memories that we hold onto should be good. We cannot simply erase all the unpleasantness that we have experienced in our lives, but we do not have to dwell on it. We can choose to recall the good times, like the family in Johnny Cash’s song making music together. That won’t erase the sting of the death of both parents as well as the younger brother, but it helps. Good memories help us remain hopeful and maintain a positive outlook on life. Bad memories do the opposite. We cannot erase the past nor should we, for we must learn from it. We can control how we choose to recall the past, however.

Hug your family, be kind to animals, love your neighbor, and make a new friend.

Peace and God Bless

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