It is not very often that I have the opportunity to have lengthy discussions with my adult son but when those cherished moments occur I delight in every minute. I recently had just such a discussion. At first we were playing catch up with the most recent happenings in our lives but at some point the conversation was centered on childhood memories. I was curious and asked him “When you reflect on your childhood what memories stand out to you? Which memories make you smile and touch your heart?”
Now I must admit that before he had a chance to answer my question I had formulated my own list of his possible responses that I he might give. I was certain the trip to the spectacular Grand Canyon would top his list. Who wouldn’t be impressed the grandeur of the majestic canyons. Or maybe he would choose Disneyland and Sea World in California. In my mind that would have been a child’s dream come true. My list went on and on. However I was more than surprised at his response.
“Mom, remember the time we were living in the old family farm house and we had two space heaters and it was below freezing. We were bundled up in two layers of clothes and blankets, watching cartoons, blowing smoke in the air, and laughing.” Well of course I remember that miserable morning in the frigid weather. I tried desperately to make the best out of a bad situation and my three year old and I ended up giggling the morning away.
And Mom do you remember that evening we were driving down the country road near our home. We opened the windows, blasted the radio and started singing really bad and loudly. Even the cows thought we were losing it.” As a matter of fact, I do remember that evening. I really don’t know what got into the two of us but we were having a grand old time.
My son proceeded to tell me about the trips he took that were the most significant. Among them was the church trip he took to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. He reminisced about the vacation we had taken there just months before the massive storm hit and devastated the area. “It was interesting to visit New Orleans as a tourist, but it did not compare to being there in the capacity of a missionary and servant. I felt like I truly got to know the people and the culture. It was worth it to see their appreciation and gratitude as we packed food for distribution and worked side by side with the residents to help clean and restore their homes.”
The conversation continued as he shared the meaningfulness of traveling to Honduras on the carpentry team at age sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen. “Traveling and working in a third world country has forever changed my perceptions of what is really important.” The excellent family values and work ethic of the Honduran people made a lasting impression on my son. The trips so deeply impressed him that after graduation from college he has made the decision to spend a year doing mission work there.
I have a sign at my office which reads “The best things in life aren’t things.” I cannot read that sign without remembering our special talk. It confirms in my mind the undeniable truth of that quotation.
Never underestimate the power of a smile, kind word, laughter, good deed, or being there in the moment with those you love. You just never know what kind of powerful and meaningful memories are in the making.