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  • Reverend James Squire


My memoir, The Times of My Life, had the themes “How did I get here from there? Don’t forget where you came from!” I think that these two statements are essential to living a life with purpose and meaning. Recently I experienced a twist regarding these two important ingredients to living a life of purpose.

The public high school that I attended was celebrating its 150th anniversary in Mid-September.

I had been asked to be the lead off speaker giving the invocation for the event. I had also planned on saying a few words about the importance of the occasion. That gesture of being asked to do this meant a great deal to me. What I didn’t realize is that my presence there was important to my classmates as well.

I had a surgical procedure a few days before the anniversary of the school luncheon and informed the alumni association that I would be in surgery a few days before the occasion and couldn’t be present. I normally would not have mentioned that it was a medical procedure. But I didn’t want anyone to think that there was something else that made it inconvenient for me to be there.

After the reunion, I received a call from a classmate to check on me and he showered me with praise, reminded me of all that I meant to my class as President, and that people were worried about me. Hindsight being 20/20 issue, I should have emphasized that I would be fine.

The classmate who called me to check in on me described how my classmates were worried about me and how much they missed not having me there. Some came just to see me. Ironically, I was motivated to go so that I could meet up with the person who walked to school with me. He was co-captain of the football team and another alumnus who was flying in from Hawaii.

I still heard from classmates when life’s tragedies struck or they needed guidance, but I didn’t think that my presence would matter that much to them. Last night I was called about the sudden death of the brother of one of my classmates and was in touch with the family. I had not seen most of my classmates since graduation night. Hindsight being 20/20 vision, I didn’t see the class’s reaction coming. I was a bit overwhelmed. I wondered why it elicited a strong response in me.

But as a result of this experience of not attending the reunion, I was reminded of another theme that “life is to be enjoyed or learned from.” I learned something from all the reunion emotional business. I believe that we live life the way that we view death. But there is another important issue that may be attached to this belief. Perhaps there is a conscious or unconscious belief that we are afraid of being forgotten. In Reform Judaism, you live on through the good works you have done in this life. Passover is celebrated so that the Jewish people remember God’s freeing them from bondage with the words, “Never forget that this night is holy.” A friend of mine who was a professor at Colorado State University said, on an occasion, where we were doing some mountain climbing and hiking, that he thought what made his life meaningful was creating good memories for others. You can summarize the Gospel in many ways, one of which is ”Do this (receiving the sacrament) in remembrance of me.” We also hear, “(Remember) I am with you always even unto the end of the age” in the Gospel of Matthew.

I believe that not wanting to be forgotten is a trait at the heart of human nature. We don’t want to be forgotten and a good many of us including me don’t see that as important as we should like “never forget where you came from.” Being remembered casts out the fear of being forgotten.

Perhaps Nat King Cole in his song “Unforgettable,” albeit a love song, states the issue as good as anyone as it speaks to being unforgettable as a shared experience.

That’s why darling

It’s incredible

That someone so unforgettable

Thinks that I am

Unforgettable, too.

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