Our Memories Fade

It is sad but true, our memories fade. Even if you are only in your forties, your memories are fading. Honestly, I never really thought about it until the past few days. Let me explain why…

Home of John and Nettie Richmond, Stanaford, Raleigh Co, WV ©2009 Terri O’Connell
Home of John and Nettie Richmond, Stanaford, Raleigh Co, WV
©2009 Terri O’Connell

On our road trip a few weeks back we stopped at the home of John and Nettie (Warden) Richmond in Stanaford, WV. When I am in the area, I like to take a look at the house and see how it is doing. The home remains in the family, but no one has lived in it for many years. Each time I see the home, it makes me sad to see the changes that have taken place since my last visit. My first visit was in 2005 when I went to WV with my Grandmother, Zedith Richmond. This is the family of her husband, William Richmond.

Anyhow a few weeks after I got home I got to spend some time with an aunt and I told her about our visit to the family home in West Virginia and how I was excited to spend some time with family members (that’s a post for another day). Our discussion moved on to my maternal great-grandfather, Wm. Hunter Richmond. I knew him in real life, and I remember his funeral. I thought I remembered it well. Today, I learned that my memories are not that correct.

My Memory

Hunter died in the spring. His funeral was the first I attended that took place in mausoleum. I remember being so cold. The funeral service was very short, but because I was so cold it seemed like it went on for at least an hour. I remember my brother being with me. I was young, in grammar school young.

I have no memories of being overly sad as we knew Hunter, but we did not really have a relationship with him. He held the name grandpa (or great-grandpa to be exact) but we rarely saw him. By rarely, I mean less that once a year. I have a handful of memories of him and his wife.

My Aunts Memories

She was on vacation and had to fly home with a baby for the service. The baby was maybe one or two at the most. It was spring, because that is when she vacationed with her family every year.

The Truth

Hunter died in 1986, I was just shy of 15 years old. Which means, I was in High School already. My brother was not at the service, he was serving our country. The person I remember standing next to is a female cousin. The baby cousin was about 5 years old. The only thing we got right about the time of the funeral, is that it was spring.

My Conclusion 

Obviously, my conclusion is that our memories are fading quicker than we like. There is no time like the present to start documenting our lives, not just the lives of our ancestors. We need to put ourselves in the stories we are writing if we were alive during the times we are writing about.

This is not something I normally do. It truly depends on who I am writing about and what memories I have of that person.

Finally, we need to write the stories of our lives that way our children will have that. Our grandchildren will one day have that and their descendants as well. Let our children write their stories on how they perceived their young life and it can be added to our stories when they are ready.

Be prepared, be proactive, and be remembered! 

Come back next week to see pictures from all three visits!




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  1. Great article. As you mention, our memories are fading away much quicker than we realize. And it’s up to us to preserve those moments so that our story will live on. This is exactly why we built Americas Footprints. To give people a chance to share their story with the future.

    1. Thanks, Joe. I appreciate your reading and taking the time to comment. Your website looks great, I am going to have to spend some more time on it soon.

  2. This was a really beautiful article. Thank goodness you had someone to share/confirm your memories. I was feeling so sad as I realized how right you are so right about our memories fading. I’ve tried to reach out to my cousins to get them to share their memories about our shared family, hopefully after they read this they’ll want to contribute. I think it’s a great idea to have our children write their stories. Really great post.

    1. Thanks Bernita, after this happened all I could think about was how many other memories have I messed up because the memories are fading. I hope this post encourages many to start writing down their memories from today and from the past, but I also hope it gets them to discuss those memories with others to see if they are the same or if they need to do a bit of research into their own past.

      1. I hope your post serves as a wake-up call that leads to people writing down their memories. I shared your post with my cousins. I hope it encourages them to share/document.

        1. Bernita, thanks for sharing with your family members, I really appreciate it. I to hope this encourages everyone to start writing their personal story.

          Today, we attended a family wedding and I plan to blog about it this week to preserve what I saw today.

          Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Dena, Thanks for providing the link. I will have to read that when I get a chance (I am currently out of town at a family wedding), it sounds very interesting. Thanks for reading and taking the time to post.

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