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Yes It’s True: Just how do I want to be remembered?

“Sometimes I wonder, just for awhile… will you ever remember me?” — Tim Buckley, 1967

When I wrote a feature story for the Kalamazoo Gazette about then-Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, he assured that he remembered and flattered me as “one of the most unforgettable persons” he’d ever met.

Now we all know that politicians have a nasty habit of blowing smoke up the backsides of constituents, and I came up with a lot of examples to the contrary. I suppose we all want to be remembered for something.

But in 1995, when I took my wife and two children to my old stomping grounds of Croton, I stumbled onto Joanne Maurer Robinson, director of the child care center that occupied the former Croton School. Though I tried heroically to jog her memory when I told her I was one of her brother Tom’s earliest friends, she said he didn’t recall anything about me. I really freaked her out when I identified her childhood nickname of “Skeeter” and suggested she had been a cheerleader.

It was in 1986 when my WHS Class of 1966 had its 20-year reunion and special guest was German foreign exchange student Crystal Schneider. I interviewed her for a story in the Globe, and though I told her we were classmates for government and sociology, she replied that she didn’t remember me.

Former Congressman Howard Wolpe came to my wedding just after I left as editor of the Albion Evening Recorder, but years later when I landed at J-Ad Graphics in Hastings, he had me totally confused with former Hastings Banner editor Robert Johnston.

Mark Wakeman, WHS Class of 1965, is now “friends” with me on Facebook, but he has very little, if any, recollection of me during his high school years. He remains puzzled by how much Wayland High School lore I have mentioned on Townbroadcast.

Patricia Wisniewski, Class of ’67, has become a Facebook friend, but she has very few recollections of me.

I’ve had a few successes as well. “Speed Bump” cartoonist David Coverly of Plainwell remembered me and his start in politically cartooning at the Allegan County News & Gazette. Detroit Free Press sports writer Mick McCabe recalled an editorial I wrote about Milton “Good News” Barnes for the Recorder when he urged Albion High School to hire him as basketball coach.

I suppose that as we age we ponder just how we will be remembered by those who knew us and even those who didn’t.

But I have to remember the classic responses of ant-racist warrior Jane Elliott and rock icon Frank Zappa when they were asked what they want their legacies to be. Both said, “I don’t care.”

9 Comments

  • I vote for the who cares. As long as I am at peace with myself that I took care of my family neighbors and friends. Nobody is perfect although some think they are. The old theory the birth date nor the death date matter just the dash between them.

  • As years pass I’ve realized that memories are just analogous to photographs or recorded music. No matter how profoundly the sunset unfolded before our eyes, the snapshot seldom does it justice, and the exposure fades over time. High end audio systems struggle to reproduce the visceral resonance of the live concert. Time and tide takes its toll, and otherwise unforgettable events usually degrade or become hidden in the folds of our minds.

    I recall that when I was a kid, Rem Wall and The Green Valley Boys always closed their WKZO TV show with the hopeful refrain: “… It would be so sweet, when all alone I’m dreaming, just to know that you remember me.”

    I hope Rem knows that at least one little kid with a guitar in his lap still remembers, and those memories are sweet. But today the old guy is comforted knowing that the real blessing came with the original experience.

  • The hyphen on your headstone encapsulates your whole life. The 19Xx – 20Xx is your life. Nothing more, nothing less. It is how we will all be remembered.

    It is what you feel about what you have accomplished from birth to death. Or not.
    The results, or lack of, is up to you, not others. Who cares what others think, and if you worry about what others think, you’ll have that baggage to carry the remainder of your life.
    Life is not a rehearsal. Just do it!

  • a leadership guru, John Maxwell, emphasizes: ” It’s not what you say but how you make people feel that they remember….” My brother, who has dementia, and I recently enjoyed a meal at Salvino’s. We were seated near a window, looking at the house where we lived until I was 9. Our conversation was all about living there, the neighbors, fun memories. Amazing how much he could recall! One thing did mark our conversation, how we perceived the neighbors based on how they treated us as children. Yeah…how will we be remembered???

  • I will always remember you. First as an Ogre, then as a world class Pepsi drinker and finally as an under rated sports writer and most interesting friend and life survivor. Live on my friend!

  • I like Muczyski’s quote for John Maxwell, and the vignette he told of his brother very much.
    The question posed by the the the column is “How do you want to be remembered?” I’d like to be remembered as someone that was kind most of the time, and fair. If I can leave such memories, that would be great.

  • Dave, I’ve just discovered townbroadcast. I’m wondering if you would remember me? I found this looking up Ed Matusak and discovered your remembrance of him. Wonderfully done. It brought back many fun happy memories of all the Ogers and Flyers. I was so sad to read that he’d died even though it was four years ago.

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