Jeanette Sekan
Jeanette Sekan
By Jeanette Sekan
The Cody (Wyo.) Enterprise

I’ve been taking some visits down memory lane.

I was putting my Christmas cards away with my collection of cards and mementos when I got distracted by some old cards, letters and pictures. So I sat down for what I thought was going to be a few moments. A few moments turned into a while longer.

It’s funny what triggers a memory and a feeling. I looked at pictures that brought back a past moment with crystal clarity. I also looked at some pictures where the memory was a complete blank. Not only was the memory blank, but the people in the photos were strangers.

I still can’t think of names or circumstances. I always had good intentions of labeling the photos, but … now I understand why that is a good idea I never implemented.

Coincidentally, around this same time, my brother and I were discussing our family. Our parents came from large families, but our connection to the group was vague and sporadic. We both remember the same family members during infrequent visits. We were the group who always lived far away, and visits were restricted to a few days once a year or so.

During the limited days we went “home,” we crammed in an hour here or there with family who lived relatively nearby and a few who would make the trip to my grandmother’s home to see us.

My brother remembers more of the relatives, since he is a few years older than I and has a clearer recollection of living there. We both have remarkably similar recollections of some things, and completely different memories of other things.

As I was looking at the photographs, I got to thinking about how we are so sure that we will remember time and events clearly. Vacations, weddings, graduations, birthdays and other life milestones are captured in photos.

That moment is so special and important, how could we even think of forgetting any detail? But we do. Life goes on and other moments take hold and, lets face it, our brain can really only hold so much.

When our brain archives things into a less accessible location, we lose a little bit of ourselves. This realization makes me wish I had been better at keeping a diary/journal. Perhaps had I kept a routine summary of people, events and life changes, I could more easily flip through the mental Rolodex and jog the memory.

As I added to my collection of memories with a new batch of cards, it was re-assuring to know that I could feel comforted by my many warm memories. As with everyone, my life has had its ups and downs and times of great happiness as well as immense grief. But, by and large, the memories are a safe place to visit. I’ve been privileged to be able to travel to distant and historic lands.

The people who have crossed my path have enriched my life in ways too numerous to count. Even those mystery people in the photos whose names and places I can’t remember.

Take out your memories and visit awhile. It’s worth the trip.

Jeanette Sekan is a columnist for the Cody Enterprise in Cody, Wyo. and a former resident of Ohio. The award-winning newspaper is owned by Sage Publishing Co. of Cody, Wyo. Jeanette’s columns are published in The Highland County Press, courtesy of the author and the Cody Enterprise (