The following article by David Strange appeared in The Courier-Journal on 12 Oct 2014. It is archived here with additional information for your reading enjoyment.
Recorded history is almost always a poor attempt to write what we think is true, while of necessity leaving out the minutiae that make people who they are, and thus leaving out the details that cause history to take place in the first place. These details are the unspoken, the unheard, the precious memories that matter really only to one person. These are the tiny details and personal experiences that measure the soul, and from there affect all who are touched by that individual.
These thoughts came to me again recently as I looked through a small box of another person's memories. Danny Ray Rice dropped by the Bullitt County History Museum the other day with a small cardboard box of items that his grandmother, Mary Catherine Pucket, had once owned. Mrs. Pucket passed away long ago, and the little collection was passed on to Danny's mother. Then to another, and finally down to Danny himself.
It was nothing important really. Certainly nothing "historic." Just a few items like we all keep hidden away somewhere that reminds us of something in our past. For me, it is a few old Cracker Jack toys, some toy soldiers, a little Davy Crocket suit that I wore as a kid; my first wallet; a first picture of my wife; a few of my children's first PJs and toys, my daughter's hair ribbon, my son's baseball, and even a couple of baby teeth.
Insignificant, forgettable items, worth nothing to anyone.
But worth everything to me.
Such were my thoughts when I held Mary Catherine Pucket's little cardboard box.
That box surely held Mary's most prized possessions. There, carefully tagged, was a gingham doll bonnet from when Mary was a child; there was a worn little Winnie The Pooh bear labeled "Billy's first toy gave to him by Uncle Roy and Aunt Lenora." There was "Billy and Sissy's first shoe"; a little toy watch; a sock; a glove; and two tin photos of people that no one now recognizes. There was a child's dancing slipper, and a baby spoon. There were baby footies that Mary made herself.
All worthless things about people and events forgotten long ago, and worthless, most would think, to history.
Worthless... except to Mary.
Oh, those precious memories! Memories hold to us, cling deep within us, making us who we are. Some memories haunt us; others we hold on to dearly as long as possible until they slowly, invisibly, slip away to time.
We are the sum of our experiences, each of us shaped by the things through which we and those before us have lived. Those little boxes of memories are more a part of that than we might imagine, imperceptibly causing us to make the decisions that we make.
I sometimes wish that we had computer connections to our brains, in which we could clearly transfer all the vision and vivid detail of our loved ones' lives as they saw it. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see life through the eyes of an ancestor? But then again, the weight of all that past might be more than a future could bear.
I never knew Mary Catherine Pucket. But maybe I understand a little of her soul.
Yes, I know we have to let go, we have to move on with our own memories.
But still, lets each of us take a moment. As we write and record and worry about all the world-shaking histories of the day, and fervently wrestle with all the "important" things of life, let us take a moment to reflect...to examine again our own precious memories, our own little box of treasures that really made us who we are.
Copyright 2014 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.