Building and Preserving Memory
The first movie I have recorded on my VCR is entitled “Stranger in my Bed.”
The move portrays the true story of a teacher who lost all her memory as a result of a car accident. She could not remember anything prior to the accident. She did not recognize her friends, not even her own husband and children. She was a total stranger lost in an unfamiliar world. She still looked the same but she was a completely different person. Her husband would relate to her in his old way, but she could not respond in the familiar old way. She was an entirely different person because she had no memory of the past at all.
The movie has solidified for me the importance of memory and it helps me, among other things, to understand why I reacted so calmly to the death of my mother.
My mother passed away in early ‘70s. Several months prior to her death, my wife and I were able to go back to Hong Kong and spent a month with her. We were able to have some quality time together even though cancer had already spread throughout her body. We talked. We laughed. We cried. We talked some more.
Some time after we returned to the States, she sent me a cassette tape letting me know she wanted to accept Christ.
The memory o that month with my mother and the memory of listening to her tape in the kitchen of the parsonage in Pittsburgh helped me to accept the death of my mother. My decision to go home (thanks to the kindness of the Board of the Pittsburgh Chinese Church) and her decision to accept Christ became my memory, a memory that will continue to shape my decisions and outlook toward life and death.
Recently a friend of mine was wondering if she should go overseas to visit her mother who was seriously ill. I shared with her my experience and encouraged her to go. She took the time and expense to go spend time with her mother. She took her mother on a trip and spent some wonderful time with her.
Several months before the passing away of my father-in-law, my wife was able to go home to see her father together with the rest of her siblings. They took a family picture together, the first picture taken of the entire family in thirty some years. That family portrait, or the memory it produces, has brought much comfort to her.
In a sense, life is the building and preservation of memory. The past has become our memory. The present is memories in the making, and the future is our attempt to formulate the memory we want to have.
Memory is the referee in a tennis match. The referee keeps score. He records and he remembers. His presence and function cause the players to take the game more seriously. How they play counts because their scores are being kept.
Our decisions and actions soon become our memory which serves to further influence our decisions and actions. Even though important, our memory may be imperfect. But there is One who keeps perfect records. The Bible tells us our lives are recorded in books in heaven (Rev. 20:12). We shall be judged by what is being accurately recorded there.
My dear fellow earth walker, if life is a tennis match, let us play the game as if we have a referee.