The holidays are mostly a joyful time of year filled with food, family, fun, and, of course, long held traditions. But this past Thanksgiving was a little different for me and my family. You see, my dad is no longer with us. This was the first of many holidays in which his absence will be noticed. I wouldn't categorize my dad as the life of the party but he was certainly an important part of the party. He would have filled that extra chair in front of the television where the Cowboys and Redskins were going at it. And he would have set at the head of the table.
Even though Bob and I have been married for nearly 20 years and we host Thanksgiving every year, the spot at the head of the table belonged to my dad. It's not because he demanded it, it's because it just seemed like the right thing to do. It's the respect my dad deserved and we wanted to honor him in that way.
Last year my dad wasn't feeling great around this time and I suppose there was some fear that 2015 would be his last Thanksgiving. My mom encouraged me to take pictures and I'm so glad that I did. One of my favorite photos of my dad and me was taken at Thanksgiving. And the memories of that day are strong. I suppose that's why I was a little shocked when a guest we had over sat in my dad's place - at the head of the tabel. He didn't know. It's not like the chair is enshrined or anything; it's just my dad's spot.
Little things like that unlock a floodgate of memories. Visuals are strong and so is audio. I suppose that's why I value audio histories so much. Hearing the sound of a loved one's voice brings memories back in a powerful way. I'm happy to hear my dad describe his life. To absorb his wisdom as he shared what he learned over the course of his amazing life. And everyone has that. Everyone has a story to share. Everyone has memories and wisdom that are uniquely their own. Life is a wonderful and eventful journey. You, or a loved one, may have many more years to make memories. You just never know. Regardless, your history doesn't change. It becomes more distant and precious with time but it doesn't change. If you capture those memories now, you can listen and share them forever.