The Memories We Hold

When my grandfather died my mom and her siblings sat us cousins down and instructed us to write down one item we would like to have from our grandparents’ house to remember them by. I didn’t even have to think about it. I instantly scribbled “Copper Pot” and that is how it came to live at my home.

I have no idea what the Great Copper Pot was originally used for. I’m sure someone in my family does, and usually I would care about this sort of history. But not this time. Because to me, the Great Copper Pot has one purpose and one purpose only: spinning.

My kids are now big enough to appreciate the gift of the Great Copper Pot. To be honest, the whole reason I requested it was for this very moment: when I helped my daughter climb into it and sit down, instructing her to hold on tight. Then I grabbed the well-worn handles and spun her around and around and around as she giggled and giggled and giggled. While she spun and laughed, the memories spun around me and made me dizzy with nostalgia. Suddenly I was five-years-old again, sitting in the Great Copper Pot in my grandparents’ bonus room, holding on for dear life as my cousins spun me around and around and around. I mostly remember laughing until it hurt.

That is why I asked for the Great Copper Pot; it was all for the memories it holds. The best memories of childhood: memories of togetherness and family laughter, memories of happy moments when everything seemed right in the world.

Can it really be 8 years since my grandfather passed? That means my grandmother has been gone about a decade. Grief never ages, does it? As I watched my kids enjoy the spinning Great Copper Pot, the memories it holds twinged my smile with sadness. I wish my kids had known my grandparents. I wish my grandparents had met my husband. I wish I could sit with them again on the porch swing on their sweeping wrap-around porch and chat as the light fades to twilight and a quiet evening rolls in.

But the house has long been sold and all of us are now scattered across the eastern seaboard.

And that’s okay. Because we have not forgotten. Each of us has an heirloom from the life we once knew with them. Each of us cherishes the memory it holds.

I realized something in my kids’ adventures with the Great Copper Pot. I realized that it is not the Great Copper Pot that holds the memories I love so much…no, those memories live deep within me. These best memories shape who I am and what I do and how I choose to parent. So though my kids will never meet my grandparents this side of glory, they will know them. Because I carry on their legacy. Their persistence, their humor, their imagination, their deep and abiding faithfulness – all of these have inspired me and molded me into the person my kids see, day in and day out. I am a product of these memories, and the memories go on living through me.

So while I grieve my grandparents still, and surely always will, I don’t lose heart. Because I am the proud owner of the Great Copper Pot. And I will spin my kids in it until they are laughing from dizziness, and they will spin their cousins in it, and God-willing I will help my grandkids wobble their way into it and discover the thrill of its magic. It will make more and more memories that will inspire the next generation with more and more love and laughter.

At best, that’s what memories do. They hold more than nostalgia: they hold the power to influence our present. Because the memories we hold – the good, and best, and brightest memories – are living, holy things. They aren’t silent pictures of the past; they are speaking to us today. They are reminding us of what’s important, what’s lasting, what’s loving.

So one day, when I am but a memory, I hope that Great Copper Pot will pass from generation to generation, carrying only the best memories from family to family. I hope my kids will one day spin their grandkids in it and smile (maybe with a tinge of grief) as they say, “oh, the memories we hold.”

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