I have a tendency to keep things…pictures, cards, and letters among other seemingly trivial things. Last night I was going through a box of those looking for a picture of my cousin Mark. He passed away on December 21 from a sudden heart attack; he was 34 years old. In my mind, Mark is still that little goofball who was a lot like his dad and almost always had that same goofy grin and that big open-mouthed smile that my uncle Sonny sported. He had three older sisters, so his sense of humor was probably tested a lot. There was a great article in the paper a couple of days ago about Mark. It made me giggle (because I can clearly hear Mark addressing most anyone as “hey, bud”), cry, proud, and comforted all at the same time.
Growing up, I lived within hollering distance of great grandparents, great aunts/uncles, grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins from both sides of the family. The Compton and Banks families intersected at the end of the beach road and I can’t imagine growing up any other way. My Grandpa Banks and Uncle Sonny had already been on my mind for the last few weeks, and Mark’s passing seemed to make remembering and reflection a little more intense. When I started going through that box of keepsakes, I found some treasures that made me really happy that I’m a bit of a pack rat. I re-read some letters from my Great-Aunt Ethel. We kind of became pen pals after she moved to California and exchanged letters from 1977 until 1983 or so. I also found a birthday card and letter from my Grandma Re that she sent to me in 1991. Then I pulled out the home movies that I had transferred to DVD a few years ago. There were more memories stirred than there is room to here to recount.
Here is my suggested New Year’s resolution — embrace your inner pack rat. Being able to relive memories through those cards, letters, and other seemingly trivial keepsakes is priceless.