Roger W. Smith, “The Importance of Memory”


I am beginning, as I grow older, to be more aware of mortality.

I feel a compulsion to record and share things like memories that come to me all of a sudden, that often pop into my head through association when I am writing, or which occur to me when I am out walking.

This brings to mind an observation which my mother, Elinor Handy Smith, once made to me.

It was something that her father, Ralph E. Handy, said to her — that, as regards the question of immortality, maybe it’s hard to believe in it from a religious point of view, but we can say with certainty that people do live on in our memories.

In recording things about my family and friends, I am doing so, not only in the hope that it will prove of general interest, but that it will be preserved for posterity. After all, all we have left of departed ones is our memories.

If my father once made to me a comment about Beethoven or Mozart (which he did), told me he read all of War and Peace one summer (which he did), when my mother told me about her favorite novel and favorite symphony and about the books she loved as a child, I regard these as priceless memories.

It seems so often that this is true of the details, especially — that preserving memories in as much detail as we can is of great value.

Because I remember such things, because they reveal something about and are part of my personal history, I am hoping that, maybe if I write them down and share them with others — such as my children or other survivors — they will be enabled to read, learn, and remember.

And perhaps they just might enjoy it.


— Roger W. Smith

      January 2016



About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1), a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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