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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)

TITLE: Old is Beautiful
By Linda Cunningham


“Precious memories, how they linger” I couldn’t get the phrase of the old hymn out of my mind. Ironically it was the only thing I couldn’t seem to get out of my mind. Misplaced car keys, files – lots of files and then a camera that had gone missing for months until it was found neatly stored in a cubby hole that I had obviously forgotten. My memory was becoming more precious by the day but it certainly was not lingering. It was running, hiding and generally playing hard to get; very hard to get!

As a child I memorized large sections of scripture word for word. One Christmas season word got around the Baptist church we attended that I could quote from memory the Christmas story. Mother shuttled me from one Sunday School department to another as everyone exclaimed over how I could quote the entire Christmas story. As a middle school student my classmates and I were given the assignment of memorizing the “Gettysburg Address.” Each of us then had a turn to stand in front of the class and quote the address from memory. As I finished quoting the address my teacher shook her head and said, “I can’t believe it. You quoted it word for word and didn’t miss anything.”

Now many years later as a manager in a Human Resources department the people around me appeared to be getting younger by the day. I do distinctly remember what youth looks like and the co-workers are coming to the professional world looking like they are straight from their mother’s arms.

“Janet, did you remember to delete that termination action for Bethann?” My youthful supervisor asked?
“No, I didn’t even remember that it was in the system” I stammered.

I had failed to delete an important action that would have saved several unnecessary steps for a staff member who had changed their mind about leaving the company. Why couldn’t I remember all the details? I handled several other details when the employee reversed their decision to leave but I totally forgot the action that was pending in the computer.

A couple of days later a department manager called to ask my help with an employee. I walked the novice manager through the steps of the actions that needed to be taken. Then I took the time to talk with her and explain some of the things I have learned over many years of managing people. At the close of the conversation she thanked me profusely and genuinely for the information I had provided her.

I hung up the phone and sat thinking of the conversation for a few moments. It occurred to me that over the years my mind has come to focus on things other than daily details. I have grown to cherish and treasure moments when I can have a positive impact on the life of another person.

A smile crept across my face. In a few years no one would remember all the forgotten details; misplaced keys, an outdated camera that needed to be replaced anyway; a computer action that was eventually made right. People might, however, remember the times when I listened to a problem and then offered advice based on years of life and faith experiences. My memory wasn’t playing hard to get; it was responding selectively to those things that really matter.

Old is beautiful. Even if only in the mind!!


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Member Comments
Member Date
Ed VanDeMark07/17/08
Yesterday was my 67th birthday...I can appreciate your story. Nouns (especially names) come harder everyday. It is my wife who has problems with losing keys, glasses, rings and forgetting appointments. Yet we can and are useful in many ways, to many people even if we can't remember your name anymore. My Father-in-law who died at age 99 said "The only part of me that's getting better is my forgetter." Thanks for sharing.
Cathy Kane07/19/08
Nice piece! And one to which many of us can relate. Good conclusion!
Sunny Loomis 07/21/08
A memory is a great thing to have as long as we can hold onto it. Nice work.