As we are preparing for my mother’s memorial service, we have been going through old pictures and video footage, triggering the return of almost forgotten memories. A particular photograph may have led to all kinds of warm thoughts and feelings—a special video clip might have brought back to mind the entire circumstances of that unique precious moment. I was reminded of a song which Elvis Presley made famous: “Memories.” In it, this line is repeated: “Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind. Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine…”
Indeed, memories can be sweet and become sweetened. In reflecting on my relationship with my mother, those are the memories I want to cherish. Of course, there were, on occasion, not-so-pleasant times, as they will be in any relationship—but I’d like to forget those. I don’t want to dwell on them or even be reminded of them.
Far too many seem to want to concentrate on and remember negative incidents and occurrences; they might even hold grudges against someone who has already died. That does not do them any good; in fact, those feelings can eat them up and literally destroy their whole being. Paul tells us to meditate on that which is of good report and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). How thankful can we be that God has promised us, for His own sake, to forget our sins and remember them no more (Isaiah 43:25). Shouldn’t we behave likewise toward others?
Cherishing good memories will do good for our own souls. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 10:7: “The memory of the righteous is a blessing” (New Revised Standard Version), or, “The memory of the just will be blessed” (New American Bible). Not only do we have “happy memories of good men” (so the Living Bible), but the righteous’s memories of others will be good memories, and they will therefore be a blessing to others and to himself.
Our memories of loved ones who fall asleep should be “sweetened thru the ages just like wine.” But we should not wait until death—it is so much better to work on and maintain a loving and caring relationship with them while they are still alive. Solomon encourages us to take it to heart—and respond accordingly–when we go to a house of mourning, because “that is the end of all men” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). We all will die and have to give account to God for how we lived (Romans 14:12).
Let’s make the best of our lives and do good, as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10). Note Solomon’s admonition in Proverbs 3:27: “Refuse no kindness to those who have a right to it, if it is in your power to perform it” (New Jerusalem Bible). Our loved ones are entitled to our kindness—let us not fail to grant it. Our future sweet and sweetened cherished memories of our loved ones must not be the product of our imagination and wishful thinking, but rather, they ought to be an accurate reflection of our true and genuine loving relationship with them.