Editor's Note: This is a reprint of a column published last year. It is being republished by special request.
If you sit back and consider your life, are there just a few small things that jump out at you? Have you ever had a split second recollection of a small memory as a child that may literally last just a few seconds in your mind, but it becomes a memory that will forever remain embedded in the corner of your brain? This happens to me occasionally. I can be talking to someone about something or somebody when all of a sudden a small scene plays out in my mind recalling quick short events that bring back good and bad memories. Think about it. I have a hunch everyone has those moments.
I have memories of short events. I can remember the time I cut the muscle in my big toe, while playing in Spring Creek with the Mueller boys during one of our camping trips. It happened in the creek behind what is now Burroughs Park. All I can recall is cutting the underside of my toe, looking at it and seeing some bad stuff but I simply took a dirty sock, wrapped it around the toe and went about my camping trip. It was only years and years later that I realized I had actually cut the muscle under my toe and now I cannot curl my big toe. It remains straight and unable to flex. It is about a five second memory. I remember nothing else about the camping trip – not sure how many of the Mueller boys were there and I'm not sure how long I remained in camp that day after it happened. (In case you didn't know there were seven boys in the Mueller Family, so we did not all go to the same place at the same time and please ladies, now that my mom is gone please don't call me and fuss at me for wrapping my cut toe in a dirty sock. I now know better.)
Another short event is when my sister Gallbladder hit me in the head with a roasting pan. (I'm sorry, misprint – her real name is Gail) I have no idea why she hit me, but all I recall is this big bong sound coming from my ears as this big, black, speckled roasting pan landed squarely on top of my head. She hit me with the center of the bottom of the pan, so it did not hurt, but in less than one or two seconds I can recall the sound and eventual laughter that arose from the family after she hit me. She says now that I was probably picking on her which I have been occasionally known to do.
I was having a conversation with my neighbor and distant cousin Ruby Vogt a couple of day's ago. I told her that I have a short memory about her mom, Ms Edna Mae.
When I was a young man running the dirt roads of Hufsmith on my bicycle, different people would occasionally ask me to help them with different small chores around the place. I have no idea why or how come I was down at the Vogt home, but all I can recall is that Ms. Edna Mae and I were standing in the yard talking, when suddenly a pole cat (skunk) was running across the pasture.
Seeing this chicken killin', thievin', stinkin' critter she went into a minor semi panic mode. She quickly let out a small sound of shock to see this critter in mid day and she turned and ran up her steps into her house and quickly exited with shotgun in hand. She thrust the shotgun into my hand and hollered "shoot em', go shoot em'" I know I must have already been ten or twelve years old and I had been around guns all my life, but any hunting I did was always with my dad. Here I was, away from the confines of our own property and visiting a neighbor, when she hands me this gun, sight unseen and instructs me to go shoot this varmint. She had it loaded and ready to fire and I took aim.
At this point my memory stops. It's gone! I have no recollection of my shot, no recollection of the end results and nothing else about the whole event, but maybe fifteen seconds of life, as this grown adult woman of whom I admire and love handed me this gun. It was as if I had suddenly achieved the manly, masculine qualities required to protect and serve. Never mind all I was doing was protecting a pen full of chickens. Never mind that I had never used another gun other than my dad's. Never mind that I had never shot a skunk before. All I remember is that moment of life that this lady respected me as old enough to handle the task at hand.
This should teach all of us a small lesson. We humans remember little things. Little spots of life, whether good or bad, are forever etched in our minds, never to be erased. Always strive to leave good memories in peoples lives. Hold back the one bad word or bad comment. Keep that outburst of anger in check. Bite your tongue because somewhere, someplace, somebody is always watching and the memory banks of the brain may never forget.