By Kim Leatherdale
I was extremely lucky to go on a fishing trip to Lake Huron in Canada with my father and sister the year before he passed away. We went to a beautiful old cabin in the woods on an island only reachable by boat. Despite Dad’s physical difficulties (multiple amputations, walked only a short way at a time, weakness) we made it work. Let me tell you, the first night as we reached the undulating unsteady dock at sunset, I wasn’t sure we would make it.
We went away with wonderful memories we still share. In fact, the evening before my father died, he was regaling my brother with his stories of that island trip.
Memories and stories are a very valuable part of what connect you to another person, especially your partner. It is important to make good ones, remember them well, and share them often.
How do you make a “good” memory? Here are a few tips:
Tips For Making Great Memories
- Be mindful. Pay attention to the things you do, your partner does, the people around you do. If you aren’t aware of things going on, you won’t be able to remember them. You have to be present in the moment to take it with you for later. On our drive to Canada I bemoaned the fact I forgot a bird book. Dad said, “You’ll know they are birds.” Later in the trip he asked what an unknown bird we saw was I replied, “It’s a bird,” and we smiled. If I had not been in the moment during the first conversation, I wouldn’ have that comment for later. (By the way, it was an American Redstart)
- Do big and little things that have meaning. Focus on doing things that are enjoyed or have a meaning to yourself or your partner. The trip to the island had meaning because my father (and family) loved to fish and spend time on a boat.
- Be spontaneous. Usually over-planned events become stiff, hurried and irritating. Set aside time to just do what you want, hang out with each other, sleep in, or have time alone. If you do have a schedule, make sure it is flexible enough to allow for unforeseen events and activities. When we were in Canada we had no schedule so fun things could happen.
- Spend time together. You can’t have memories with another person if you don’t spend time with them. Yes, you need time that is yours, but you need time together. The memories of our time on the island (and even the hours in the car) are a wonderful way to think of my father, sister, niece, and brother-in-law. I wouldn’t have those if I didn’t go along.
- Make it fun. The things you can laugh about stick with you longer. Even when things are tough, find a way to laugh or look back later and laugh. I always think of what it would look like as candid camera footage. That first evening when Dad was trying to walk down that narrow dock in the dark, we didn’t find much funny until he made a joke about the spaces between the boards being bigger than the walker legs. That dock became one of the good memories and tall-tales from the trip.
- Take pictures. I don’t mean just digital pictures you store away and don’t look at (or bore your neighbor with); I mean mental snapshots that represent something to you. I have visual memories of the dinner table in the cabin with the propane lamps hissing above and the fire crackling in the stone fireplace while we laughed and enjoyed each other. Or I remember sitting on the deck listening to the birds and watching the tall cedars sway with the wind while we talked about nothing and everything. These images mean family and love to me.
- Share. Memories are made more valuable when you share them. They bring you together, open your heart and mind, and link your experience with another person’s. My brother also visited Canada the following year which is why he and Dad were talking about the cabin the night before Dad died. It was a great way to connect.
Memories are what help cement relationships. There is a reason why we share them when we get together for family reunions, weddings, funerals, dinner, and picnics – they bond us together. They are a way to rejoice in living and loving. They are how you celebrate the “us” that make up all your relationships. Go make some great memories.
I’m going to go look at the pictures from our time at the island in Lake Huron and call my sister to share some memories.
About the Author: Kim Leatherdale is a licensed professional counselor and relationship blogger. She offers on-line, phone, and in office counseling and relationship coaching. For more information visit her website: CreatingRewardingRelationships, Facebook page: CreatingRewardingRelationships, or Twitter account: HappyCoupleXprt “