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Joseph Walker: How will our grandchildren remember us?

Published: Saturday, May 26 2012 11:36 a.m. MDT

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It is Memorial Day, 2062.

Sarah, a handsome 50-year-old woman, stands with her children in a small community cemetery in the valley where both of her parents were born. It has been years since she has been here, and she can't help but wonder why. Every time she comes here, she wonders why she doesn't come more often. Sometimes she wonders why her parents ever left.

Spring is beautiful here — surpassingly so. From the green-covered mountains rising majestically on every side, to the lake bulging with spring runoff, stretching to cover the valley floor. Just being here speaks peace to her heart and comfort to her soul — a rare and precious thing during times teeming with callous uncertainty.

Which is part of what brought her here — a search for peace. But only part. She recently learned that she is about to become a grandmother — a thrilling, daunting prospect if ever there was one. As a result, she has found herself thinking a lot about her grandparents, and what they meant in her life. She was drawn here, as if walking among their headstones will somehow transfer their accumulated knowledge and experience to her.

Of course, finding the graves in the cemetery will be the first challenge of her search. After all, it has been years …

"Here they are!" Her 16-year-old son, a tall, blond, handsome young man, proclaims his discovery. In no time the family is gathered at the two headstones, reading them as if the information on them was new and interesting.

"This is my Grandpa Joseph Walker and my Grammy Anita," Sarah announces. "I was their eighth grandchild, and they spoiled me just like they spoiled the others. I wish you could have known them."

She tells her family about her tender, loving Grammy Anita. About all of the times they played together, and talked together, and shopped together, and laughed together.

"You could just feel her love in everything she said and did," she says, almost reverently. "She was about the best grandma a little girl could have."

She pauses for a moment, lost in the crisp, clear memory of childhood outings and overnighters, her eyes moist and red. Then she wipes a tear from her cheek and shifts her focus.

"Then there was Grandpa Joe," she says, smiling. "What a character. He … he …"

He what?

That's the question I'm pondering this Memorial Day. What are the memories my 3-month-old granddaughter, Sarah, and my other grandchildren will have of me 50 or so Memorial Days from now? Right now, she thinks I'm terrific — not as terrific as Grammy Anita, but terrific nonetheless. When she sees me, she smiles and coos, and when I hold her, she snuggles her chubby body against me, resting her sweet head on my shoulder.

OK, so maybe she's just relieved that her 2-year-old brother, Tommy, can't sit on her face and nearly suffocate her or push her off the bed — again — while I'm holding her. I'll take those smiles and cuddles any way I can get them. All's fair in love and grandparenting.

The point is, I'm making the memories now that will be remembered at my grave side many Memorial Days from now. So are you. It's a simple fact of life, one of which I become more painfully aware as I grow older. And I can't help but wonder what sort of memories they will they be. Will they be pleasant? Happy? Joyful? Or will they be wistful and sad? It's up to us — today, circa Memorial Day 2012 — to begin building a lasting legacy of love.

Because by Memorial Day 2062, it will be too late.

To read more by Joseph B. Walker, please go to www.josephbwalker.com.

Email: jwalker@desnews.com

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