memory

No Longer Asking How I Want to be Remembered

Photo by  Madison Grooms  on  Unsplash

Today marks what is known in the liturgical calendar as All Saint's Day. It is the day the Church remembers the saints who have died and who continue to teach and guide us even as they are no longer walking among us. Those who have come before us have much to teach us, if we could take the time to listen and see. 

Many of us think about how we want to be remembered when we die. This is a fine question. It forces us to consider the ways we live our lives and the story that people tell about us. It is a social check to encourage people to be kind and generous. You don't want to be remembered as a curmudgeon do you? 

Recently, I heard someone say that they used to ask themselves how they wanted to be remembered, but then something dawned on them. How they want to be remembered is not as interesting compared to the question, "Why do I want to be remembered at all?" 

The question of how we want to be remembered challenges our outward actions, but why we want to be remembered challenges our desires and motivations. It is our desires that drive action, thus our desires need to be examined and vetted.

Why do you want to be remembered at all?

 

What colonoscopies can teach us about hospitality

I have never had a colonoscopy but I hear they are not something that many people look forward to undergoing. Maybe this is why we may not look to colonoscopies when thinking about hospitality, but the now infamous 1996 study might make us rethink our assumption. 

Quickly from the wikipedia entry, here is the study:

Colonoscopy patients were randomly divided into two groups. One underwent a colonoscopy procedure wherein the scope was left in for three extra minutes, but not moved, creating a sensation that was uncomfortable, but not painful. The other group underwent a typical colonoscopy procedure. Kahneman et al. found that, when asked to retrospectively evaluate their experiences, patients who underwent the longer procedure rated their experience as less unpleasant than patients who underwent the typical procedure. Moreover, the patients in the prolonged discomfort group were far more likely to return for subsequent procedures because a less painful end led them to evaluate the procedure more positively than those who faced a shorter procedure.

This is one example to show how it is the endings of an event that impact the way we remember the event. If the ending was bad, the remembered event was bad. If the ending was good, the remembered event was good. 

In the Church there is a lot of emphasis on the first impression we make to guests. This is why we try to have well kept landscaping and facilities, clearly marked parking and signage, greeters at the door, free coffee and doughnuts, a "glad you were with us for the first time" gift, etc. While these first impressions matter, so does the last impression.

To my preacher friends, I would submit that all the work that is done to find the "right opening hook" to a sermon, perhaps we need to spend time on the "right ending". It may very well shape what is remembered.

Alzheimer's patient never forgets love

A friend of mine (also named Jason) shared a memory he had with his grandmother who was dealing with the memory loss that comes with Alzheimer's.  

My friend walks into the room where his grandmother is. She is a shell of her former self, but looking at her he sees flashes of her younger self. He knows that her days are scary and full of strangers. He is saddened not only with the quality of life that she currently has, but he is keenly aware that the shared memories they had are no longer shared. He is the sole care taker of the past they created together. It was a humbling experience.  

She slowly moves her head up from her spacey daze that she falls into for so much of the day. He wonders what she is looking for in those blinkless stares. Is she trying to make sense of her surroundings? Is she wanting to say something but cannot find the words? Is she looking for her name? 

Before he is able to get a word out to greet her, she looks right into his soul and says, "I don't know who you are, but I know that I love you."  

And that one sentence is the only memory of his grandmother that he guards and protects with his life. It is the the one memory that trumps all the other memories that he is the care taker of. It is the one memory that tells him all he needs to know about his grandmother.