MAUREEN BURNS: Memory keepers

By Maureen Burns • Last Updated 11:31 am on Monday, April 16, 2012

Maureen Burns

Am I the only one that gets hit by emotion? It comes out of nowhere. You are totally feeling and acting normal and doing normal things. Along comes some memory. It could be on TV or a song you hear. It could be when you see someone in a crowd that reminds you of somebody you loved. In reality, it could be anything.

Once I saw a woman in the crowd at the Danish Festival parade. She looked like my Nana who had been dead a few years. Instantly I was all choked up and my eyes began to tear. Everyone knows there’s no crying in Danish Festival parades.

Perhaps you are minding your own business, working on a project, not paying one bit of attention to the TV, when Sarah McLachlan begins to sing on that dog commercial. You know the one. OMG! Instantly I am all emotional as every dog I ever loved before is going through my pathetic mind. Couldn’t they have put some other singer in that ad? Rod Stewart, Bob Seeger or some other rough voice would have worked fine.  Why did they have to torture us with the voice of an angel? I’m telling you. The mastermind that put her voice on that ad should be running a political campaign. Minds like that are extremely aware of what makes people tick and feel.

You might have seen the recent “Modern Family” episode. The mom and two daughters are all on the same emotional hormonal cycle. To prove this and make it realistic, the three of them are shown sitting on the sofa and sobbing as they watch that dog commercial. You don’t see the commercial. You don’t hear the words. You just hear that lilting angelic voice singing that song in the background. Immediately you are on the emotional roller coaster with the TV characters. As we watched it, I said to my husband, “Those writers really know people and are tuned in to what is making America cry at the drop of a hat.”

So, I got thinking about this on Easter Sunday. I am at my daughter’s house. She is preparing dinner.  I am looking at a magazine she had just told me to read. Colleen has a CD playing some old country tunes.
George Strait begins to sing, “Amarillo by mornin’, up from San Antone, everything that I got, is just what I’ve got on …” I am immediately drawn in to it, singing along. It is one of my old favorites and every time I hear it, I love it. I say to my daughter, “I love this song.”

She exuberantly replies. “I know. I remember the night you brought the CD home and Dad was gone and we played it and sang it over and over all night long.”

In a second, I am right back there. I see us. I hear us. I remember dancing around the kitchen, singing our hearts out. And then it came, out of nowhere, the emotion. Soon tears were running down my face which I really didn’t want anyone to see. I was having a very happy day, after all. I was not sad in any way. But that emotion, it gets ya every time.

And that was when I thought about the fact that our memories are most alive when they are shared by others. We remember. They remember. It is good. One of the best times we have is when we share old memories with people. We laugh. We even add to the memories. Sometimes we distort them a bit, but that is usually OK. No harm done. They still make us feel good.

Yes, we are memory keepers for each other. When we share them it can be a beautiful thing. They can bring emotion, sometimes tears, often laughter, but almost always — good feelings. They are a testament that our life is and has been good.

In our church there is a hymn I love. It goes, “We remember how you loved us …”  And that is what makes sharing memories emotional and precious. It’s all about the love.
“Amarillo by mornin’, Amarillo’s where I’ll be…”

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is

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