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Slow down, enjoy loved ones, make memories

by Annette Beard | May 31, 2023 at 3:00 a.m.

Memorial Day has come and gone.

Graves are adorned with flowers, wreaths and flags.

School has been dismissed. Summer maintenance programs begin in earnest. Teachers enjoy vacations or second jobs.

Pools and splash pads are open. Parks are full of children playing, people walking dogs (or dogs walking their people).

Summer has officially begun even though the summer solstice isn't until June 21.

Families are enjoying vacations, camp outs, barbecues and a less stressful time schedule with children home from school.

Leafy green canopies curtain views of the Ozark hills and valleys. Streams, waterfalls, rivers and lakes are overflowing thanks to the abundance of spring rains.

Wildflowers bloom.

Bees and butterflies (and mosquitoes) flit about.

Grass begs mowing. Gardens beg weeding.

Does with fawns venture into the open, seeking food.

Newly-hatched, naked birds chirp for their food as their parents diligently work to gather enough to nurture them.

What does summer mean to you?

Do you remember carefree days exploring, playing, imagining?

Or, as a friend recalled, do you remember days of working hard on the farm, tending food gardens and harvesting hay?

Either way, summer calls us to the outdoors, to a different pace than does the fall and winter.

Whereas it does bring a change in schedule and different demands on time and energy (and budgets), it can be a time of families enjoying fellowship with one another and getting to know one another better in a less demanding atmosphere.

In our hurried, work-obsessed culture, maybe we should deliberately (intentionally) slow down, set aside the clocks, watches, electronics and sit! Just sit together and watch children play.

Go fishing!

Take a hike -- there are myriad walking trails in the northwest Arkansas area with every imaginable level of ease or difficulty and length.

Go cycling.

Take up a new hobby, try painting or playing a musical instrument. Try singing around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, dining al fresco.

Too often, we let the minutes, hours, days, weeks slip by and then live with regrets wishing we'd spent more time with our children, our siblings, our elderly parents.

As Harry Chapin sang in "Cats in the Cradle," we may find that if we don't have time for our children now, they may not have time for us later, when we do have time.

The Memorial Day holiday was a reminder of how we've spent many Memorial -- or Decoration -- days.

For years, we gathered the family in the van with Grandpa and Grandma (my in laws) and went to several different cemeteries.

Grandma could tell us where everyone was buried. Some of the grave stones are very difficult to read. Some have no writing, but she knew who was buried where.

My grandmother told many stories of family history. She could identify people in the old photographs. Now, as memory fades, the following generations are unsure of who is whom.

Boxes of black and white photographs bearing images of forebears attest to family history but many are unidentified.

I've been to flea markets where old family photographs are for sale. It's always sad to me because it seems they should belong somewhere.

Oral history is a strong tie to our roots. But, we need to write it down.

Too often the young don't listen to the stories. They are too busy with living today. And, maybe that's as it should be, but the lessons learned by our forefathers -- and mothers -- are wonderful experiences for us and could help lead our way today if we'd listen.

This summer, wouldn't it be fun to make a personal history book for each of your children -- or for yourself?

Write down special memories. Photograph your home, the hospital (or house) where you were born, the schools you attended.

Scripture tells us (in Hebrews 10:32): "But call to remembrance the former days..."

Valuable lessons are learned from the past. We should share our own stories with our children. They'll more quickly accept that we understand their struggles of growing up when they can see us as young people, as teens struggling for independence, as young adults beginning the journey of life. Remember. Help your children to remember.

And, value the reminiscing of the aged.

Listen to their stories which may seem to be repeated far too often.

Encourage each of your children to write their own stories this summer. It will help them, in the future, remember today's events more clearly.

Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. A native of Louisiana, she moved to northwest Arkansas in 1980 to work for the Benton County Daily Record. She has nine children, six sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, nine grandsons and six granddaughters. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected].

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