The Memory Keeper

Old but not old

On Dec. 26th I will be 46. I once thought 40 was old, but I know now how young it is. The year I turned 40, I had so much trepidation. I wasn’t so much worried about being 40. It is just a number. My fear is from my parents dying in their 40s. It was a sobering birthday, but what I’ve realized since then is that I can’t worry about my tomorrows.

No learning curve

memory

At the age of 25, I became the matriarch of my family, and in turn, the memory keeper. My dad passed away when I was 20 from a brain tumor, and five years later, my mom passed away from malignant melanoma. I was her primary caregiver. The day my mom passed away I was married with two young children, a younger sister newly married, a brother still in high school, and a grandmother who I was caring for. To say my plate was full was an understatement. I look back in the archives of my memory and remember the days of no sleep while trying to guide my family through our roots being gone. I’m not going to lie, it was HARD and there were many tears.

Looking forward while glancing behind

What I see most when I look back is God’s hand throughout those threads of the tapestry of my life. He answered prayers I whispered to myself during my darkest days, as well as the ones I cried out, and He has been there through my happiness and heartbreak. I knew I had to make a choice. I could choose to live a life looking in the rear-view mirror pining for what I had, or I could look at the blessings in my life and be thankful I had another day. My choice is a life filled with love, laughter and family.

Beautiful memories

It’s funny what will make a memory pop up. It can be a song, a smell or even a season. I so wish I could ask my parents questions that I don’t know or can’t remember the answers to. It would be worth my right arm to be able to text or call and talk to them about my children for an hour. I would love to see what kind of grandparents they would have been. Birthdays and angelversaries will open the floodgate of my mind, but the memories don’t sting like they used to; they now make me smile, remember and pass on what my parents taught me.

Twenty years: traditions and family

memoryHere I am… 20 years of being the memory keeper and storyteller. I tell my four children all the time how their Nanna and Big Daddy would have loved and been so very proud of them. I smile as each child chooses and is accepted (child #3 was just accepted!) to Auburn University. My dad would have been tickled to have the fourth generation joining the AU family and cherishing the traditions of Auburn. My oldest, Hopson, graduated from AU on May 6th. I cried because my dad’s 25th angelversary was the next day, and smiled because he would have been so proud. It is my responsibility to pass on Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions and recipes that remind me of those holidays. Or teaching each child to water ski, a must in my family. If I didn’t teach them, the little voice in my head (mom and dad) would have bothered me until they all learned. We don’t inner tube until we ski. I know the most important thing I passed on was their love. That’s what they would have wanted most.

Moving forward and feeling Glorious

I found a song that perfectly sums up how I felt when I chose to embrace being the matriarch of my family. These words are powerful for me. The song is by Macklemore, and it is called “Glorious.” I was born for this, and I will rock it out every day for the rest of my life.

“I feel glorious, glorious
Got a chance to start again
I was born for this, born for this
It’s who I am, how could I forget?
I made it through the darkest part of the night
And now I see the sunrise
Now I feel glorious, glorious
I feel glorious, glorious”

I do feel glorious and blessed beyond measure!

Sigma’s Love and Mine,

~ashley

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