What They Will Remember

When I would visit my paternal grandmother she always had jelly candies like these. They were one of my favorite things about visiting, She had a ‘magic’ pantry and somewhere in that pantry there would always be a treat for us. When I talked about this once my brothers remembered the pantry and the jelly candies. They remembered it as a highlight as well. After she passed away my Dad found a bag of orange jelly slices in her bedside table, so she was just passing along one of her favorite things.

It’s funny the things we remember about people. What they smelled like, what they fed us, how their house was decorated. These memories seems to come and go as we age and as other memories crowd things in and out of our consciousness. The one thing we never seem to forget is how people made us feel. They can say and do all sorts of stuff, and yet how they made us feel lingers beyond everything else.

I said that to tell this, I was afraid of my paternal grandmother. She was not always a nice person to be around. I’m not sure she really liked children. As a child I can remember her being harsh about things not because we were misbehaving, simply because we were there. I do not fault her for this I simply processed it as part of who she was and we didn’t fit into her picture of how she lived her life. So to have a memory about her and jelly candies is nice. I am glad to be able to remember and focus on that instead of the rest.

This then made me think about how I have interacted with the next generation in my family. What will they remember about me? How have my words or treats or things I have said impact their memories of spending time with me? And all that will fade in comparison to how I made them feel. Children are smart, they get it. They may not totally understand the circumstances yet they know what is going on. They know who loves them and who treats them with respect, and they know and retain how people made them feel.

In reality we are all just overgrown five year olds. We laugh, we play, we like to be challenged and we enjoy being around people who make us feel good about ourselves. So next time you think how you make people feel doesn’t matter, think again. Orange slices and jelly candies aside, people want to feel good about themselves and you can contribute to that or you can tear them down. Either way how you treat them is what they will remember.

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