Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Word of the Year: Joy 12: Remembrances


A little rock reservoir, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. May 2016.
A little rock reservoir, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. May 2016.

A few years ago, I caught myself remembering a vivid experience. The experience - a particularly exuberant dance move with a partner - had been unexpected and joyful. Exultant! I remembered clearly how I'd felt during that dance move - delightfully surprised in the way of a child seeing snow for the first time. Think the final lift scene from Dirty Dancing.

Catching myself remembering those few moments, and observing the pleasure that the act of remembering gave to me - it was the first time I understood that remembrances are like water in a reservoir, a source I can drink from to replenish my spirit.

Death took three people in my circles this year. 

My mother.

A friend.

An aunt, unexpectedly, only a week after my mother's funeral.


Bulb in leaves. St. Louis, Missouri. December 2007.
Bulb in leaves. St. Louis, Missouri. December 2007.

It's odd to think that death can bring forth thoughts of joy. But I catch myself remembering pleasurable moments with lost ones, usually prompted by a sensory trigger. A snatch of music. The ticking of a clock. A pair of earrings. A color reminiscent of homemade butterscotch pudding. The creaking of a kitchen cabinet door. A small pair of scissors. An old television show. These memories make me smile, gladdened for the pleasure they give me today and gladdened for having had the original experiences with the family or friends who have died. 

Challenges overcome

As I walked home from downtown Mobile on a recent night, I remembered a time when I, a single parent of a very young child, was terribly poor. I hadn't thought of those years in decades, but as I walked home, the memories came to me of what I'd accomplished since then.

The trigger was a Head Start booth at Mobile's Lighting of the Christmas Tree event, which I'd just attended. Head Start was a marvelous resource for my young one (and me) during a time of great need for us. Remembering that era, I went to deep appreciation of my maternal grandmother, May, who - for several years, as I walked through that desert - sent me a $25 check each month, along with a brief note. In my financial poverty, that $25 check made a meaningful difference to me and my child. 

As I walked home, remembering that time, I felt so .... proud .... of what I'd achieved since then, and the richness of the experiences that followed, both the exuberant and the sad. 

I felt joyful. 


The compilation of this year's joy

Joy 1: Word of the Year: Joy

Joy 2: Music

Joy 3: Surprise Vista

Joy 4: Happy, Joyous, and Free

Joy 5: The Science of Joy, Interrupted

Joy 6: Color

Joy 7: Birdsong

Joy 8: Here and Now, Boys

Joy 9: A Tomato and Onion Sandwich

Joy 10: Let in Light

Joy 11: Scentsuality


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