Service of Remembering

August 14th, 2017

Categories: Greeting Cards, Memory, Remembering

I wonder if other people do what I do to remember people who have died.

If I hear a date in the news, it gets me thinking of the past. An example: I read articles and Facebook postings about the full solar eclipse expected in the Continental US on August 21. Each report reminds readers that the last one was in 1979. I immediately think: “What close family members, now dead, were alive 38 years ago and where were they? Did they see it?” It is somehow comforting. [This morning I heard it was 99 years ago. That reference would not have triggered the same reaction!]

I have a pair of my father’s well worn leather gloves on a living room shelf [photo above]. As I pass by I often put my hand on the top glove. It’s reassuring. I noticed that every time my nephew sees his grandfather’s gloves he slips one on.

I sent a thank you card to a friend who told me she put it in a favorite cookbook. I was honored. I mentioned that in a few of my latest moves I’ve had to close my eyes and toss so many things but I’ve kept some greeting cards in the handwriting of loved ones and on occasion, a card will fall out of a book I’ve not read in a long time. It makes me sad in a way but I am happy to have a memento with precious handwriting on it. She said that her cookbooks have many such cards.

In my wallet I carry mass cards of deceased friends and relatives—and I wonder why my handbag is so darned heavy! I come across the cards [photo left] more often than if I’d tuck them away. Years ago I’d put them in a missal that went to church weekly.

There are favorite coffee mugs that people have given me that literally warm me and all over my home gifts are lovely reminders.

How do you remember loved ones? Will anything take the place of printed pieces that are easy to save and don’t take up much room?



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9 Responses to “Service of Remembering”

  1. Kathleen Said:

    We just moved after 61 years in the same house. Tucked away in the attic were two large boxes. Inside were greeting cards for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Valentines, etc. from the day we were born through our childhood. How could we throw them away! We moved them with us and eventually will read them all and sadly will have to discard. What a treasure.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I trust that you will keep some of the cards and am so happy that you have them for now.

    I wonder if they might be put to good use–in an archive of an art school for example or for use by the art students in a project.

    Or maybe Hallmark would love to see the commercial ones and save some?

    You do have a treasure.

  3. David Reich Said:

    In these digital times, I keep pictures of my father and my dog pal Loki on my phone. But I have other things that remind me of them and others I miss.

    We still have Loki’s collar hanging on the doorknob in our room.

    I have some things that were important to my father — his Masonic ring, his trumpet. The ring is in front on a shelf in my amoire so I see it every day.

    But it’s often things that aren’t necessarily physical that keep a loved one in mind. I hear a certain corny joke and I remember all the bad jokes my father would tell. We didn’t always laugh at the joke itself, but more at and with him because he so obviously enjoyed telling it, bad as it may have been. I hear a song he liked or a song he played when he was a musician and I think of him.

    Places, even smells, can stir good memories. Memories are everywhere, if you let them be.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    So true! I love Paris because of its charm but no doubt also because my mother loved it so, my sister was born there, my parents lived there when they were first married. I have a photo of my mother taken in her late 70s early 80s. We had just arrived in Paris and she came to our hotel to greet us. I swear the woman looked 10 years younger than she had when she left NYC a few weeks before. It couldn’t just have been her French hairstyle! She used to spend about a month in France every year, even after my dad died.

    The fragrance of my grandmother’s Christmas cookies baking and decorating Easter eggs are important traditions for me.

    And I have photos all over the place.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Death is difficult enough to deal with, so any remarks I can think of are far too intimate to share.

    On a related topic, I enjoy visiting cemeteries, and find peace and a welcoming air among the departed. The only frightening exception was shared with a late family member who had a similar story to tell. We concluded there’s something/someone out there, but who or what remains stubbornly out of sight and is best left undisturbed.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Wonder if you are writing a book that fleshes out one of the scenarios! A former client loved visiting cemeteries. If we were traveling on a project together and if we had time, we’d scout around any he’d discovered. When passing one on a train or in the car I still hold my breath, a superstition left over from childhood.

  7. HB Said:

    Good subject! I have moved to a new home well over fifty times so far in my life, and, at this point, partly as a consequence, I have lost more objects that reminded me of people who are gone than I can even remember. I still have a few such objects and, of course, my memories of the people. (Over time, thankfully, these have tended to sweeten.) Most of my memories focus on shared experiences, since these are likely to linger longer.

    Several of my family members were colorful — unfortunately not always in the best of ways –; none-the-less, they were worth remembering. As the bits of information I was accumulating grew in volume, I realized that, unless I recorded their existence, their collective message would inevitably be lost after my death. Therefore, for many years, I have been writing these down as part of a series of biographies now numbering over a hundred plus in various stages of completion.

    A few years ago, I self-published the first six of these biographies, in a four hundred page, fully annotated and indexed volume one. These were bought mostly by subscribing family members and apparently it can now be bought second hand on the internet. I also gave copies of it to several research libraries including, I’m pleased to report, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale, which accepted the book to be part of its permanent research collections. Eventually, I hope to have the others also published.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You’ve come to know people you’ve never met, I imagine. What a treat for your offspring and relations especially as you no doubt give the characters life, if you know what I mean.

    I will drink to your publishing your other bios and keep fingers crossed for you.

  9. Anonymous Said:

    I wear my mother’s ring and rub it when I need strength.

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