Erasing Memories

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If I squint enough into the horizon I can see the dust of my 80th birthday galloping toward me. I prefer to avert my eyes and concentrate more closely, if sentimentally, on the road behind me. I prefer to feel young, not old. So I have a decision to make when I leaf through my address book, or nowadays more frequently my iPhone contact list, and come across names of friends no longer on the planet. The number of our deceased friends and relatives increases each year of course, and many of us efficiently remove their names from personal address books and Christmas card lists.

I have however purposely chosen to leave them right where they are. One reason is that I enjoy the surprise of the occasional accidental and happy reminder of a deceased friend or relative as I look up another phone number or email address. But primarily, I leave them in place because I do not want to indulge in what to me seems like a ritual designed to erase their memory from our collective consciousness. Removing their names from my lists would seem like going into family photos albums and removing the images of old friends at birthday parties, class reunions and camping trips. Jack died over 15 years ago, Norm has been gone for almost 10. But they, and many others, were enormous contributors to my life experience; I am the person I am in large part because of their presence in my life. Eventually of course they and I will be largely forgotten as our young families replace us at the top of the family actuarial roster.

But I'm going to let that process unfold without any help from me; well, conscious help anyway. I'll add extra pages to my address book or electronic memory to my iPhone if necessary, but I won't be crossing out any names of old pals until eventually I catch up with them in other ways.

With a Perspective, I'm Larry Murphy.

Larry Murphy and his wife recently retired after selling their Irish pub in Sonoma.