We lived in Dayton, Ohio, when James was four years old. We drove to Valdosta for Christmas, and were preparing to leave Valdosta and drive back to Dayton. Now we always had grand plans of getting up and leaving early, but they never fully worked out. As I was packing the van that morning, I found that James had folded one of the seats over and fastened the seatbelt and I couldn’t get the seatbelt to unlock to fix the seat. James had received a talking Mr. Potato Head for Christmas that year, and Mr. Potato Head was on the seat. To get Mr. Potato Head to talk, you would press his hat, and he would say one of his lines from the movie, “Toy Story.” I was frustrated after several minutes of not being able to fix the seat, and was losing my patience and was aggravated at James. I snapped at James and said, “Move Potato Head.” James picked his toy up and when he did, he touched the hat and Mr. Potato Head said, “That’s Mr. Potato Head to you.” What could I say? Obviously, that broke the tension of the morning, and I was able to fix the seat and finish loading the car.
One of our family’s favorite tv shows is “Everybody Loves Raymond.” When Tammy, James and I moved to Sumter, SC, in 2006, we did not have cable for a couple of weeks, so we bought a couple of seasons of the show and watching Raymond was our nightly entertainment. Oneof our favorite episodes was the wedding of Raymond’s brother, Robert. If you know anything about the show, you know there was drama and laughter leading up to the ceremony, during the ceremony and at the reception. The wedding was on the verge of being a disaster when it came time for Raymond to give the best man’s speech. Nobody expected him to say anything to salvage the situation, but as he spoke, he turned the tone for the evening. As he began, he stated that he really wasn’t sure what he was going to say, but then he said, “material presents itself.” He said some things you make better by editing, but you remember the good stuff. Remember what you want to remember. You don’t save all of the pictures, just the good ones. Keep the good ones.
Keep the good ones. Solid advice for anyone. Life is not always easy, but it’s filled with memories. Keep the good ones. I go back to the old hymn, “Precious Memories.” Alan Jackson’s version of this wonderful song ended with the chorus,
Precious memories how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness, of the midnight.
Precious sacred scenes unfold.
Precious memories fill my soul.
As Thursday approaches, memories come flooding back to that fateful day, and we will remember them. We will feel that forever hole in our heart. But we won’t stay there. We can’t. God continues to use this story, continues to use James’ legacy for His glory. We will visit. We will cry. We will continue to move forward and share a story of hope. But we will look back, too, and remember the good ones.