In her “Treasure Chest,” my grandmother wrote an essay entitled “Things I Want to Remember.” In it, she briefly dwelt on her memories of each of her children. What makes this such a gem, however, isn’t simply a mother’s descriptions of her growing children, but rather the way in which she allows her readers access to those scenes in her memory as if she were leaving a snapshot in time.
Rather than to merely describe what each child looked like, my grandmother gave us insight into what they were like. She gives us a snapshot in time of each of them, describing their gestures, expressions, and actions within a very small setting. This gives me a strong connection to my grandmother—I can imagine her watching her children, drinking in the joy of seeing the individuals they had become. It also connects me to my mother, aunt, and uncles as well.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to handle the writing prompt “Things I want to remember.”
Sometimes there are things we want to remember that aren’t quite a story—things like gestures, habits, a saying, or idiosyncrasies. For example, I don’t want to forget how my youngest used the word “lane” for street and “persons” for people when he was little. You don’t have to use any fancy formatting; a bullet list with a couple of headings works fine. (For an example, see “Things I Want to Remember—About Hazel.”)
Write things down as they occur to you. Keep some type of journal near your couch or bed to write down those things you don’t want to forget. If you’re kids are young, you might want to keep a “She Said, He Said” journal. Even if you’re not putting together a “Treasure Chest,” these “Things I Want to Remember” journals will be precious to you later.
Scrapbook “Things I Want to Remember”
If you have photos of the things you want to remember, this makes a wonderful theme for a narrative scrapbook. Tap into your creativity as you feature each memory.
You can upload and pin photos of special occasions, birthday cakes, your puppy as it grows, life-philosophies, how-to instructions, or anything else you want to remember. You can also pin your stories if you’re blogging them, by pinning a photo. Don’t forget to invite your friends to follow your board. (See How to Use Pinterest to Share Memories for more detailed instructions.)
If you like creative writing, Thing I Want to Remember is a great prompt for a poem or song.
Make a literary snapshot album
Collect those memories you don’t want to forget. For instance, 25 years ago today, my husband and I eloped. One of the things I want to remember is the attitude of the staff at the Cook County courthouse. We were excited and dressed in our Sunday best and I was holding a bouquet of flowers Matt bought me. Noticing that we were dressed up, several staff members asked disbelievingly if we both really were getting married for the first time. (We were 26 and 30, not that ancient!) A janitor passed by us, singing. He broke-off his song and started a soliloquy aimed at us as he pushed his wide dust mop across the floor. “You getting married for the first time? Both of you? Neither of you been married before? For real? Whoo-eee!”