"Memory is one of God's great gifts to the human spirit."

-- Howard Thurman

Before Christmas, I was looking for my copy of the "Wright Family Christmas Story." Several years ago, our son Steven introduced us to this fun game, and I wanted to play it at some of the parties we were invited to.

I couldn't find it. I searched through several probable places, but no luck. Finally, I asked the girls at the Farm Services Agency office if they could help me out. Ruann checked on her computer -- success!

This experience reminded me of the many times I've put something away and later can't remember where I put it. I know I've said, "Honey, I'm putting this item (which could be anything from a news clipping to a little screwdriver or maybe the Special Olympics T-shirt) in the storage box under the bed. Help me remember when I'm looking for it later." Well you know what happens -- we both forget.

Did you ever notice you find what you've been looking for in the exact place you started, where you thought it was in the beginning?

The search ends when you find it. What a relief-- now you can get it back to normal (whatever that is) because you had become consumed with the hunt, determined to not let the lost item be the winner.

There are times when we give up -- oh, well, let's just buy another one. Lo and behold, as soon as you purchase another the old one shows up.

Remember the story about the little old lady who was halfway up the stairs and suddenly couldn't remember if she was going up or coming down? Well I will go into the other room to get something, and when I get there I've forgotten what I came to get. I will have to retrace my steps and many times it comes back to mind.

Or I want to jot something down, I find a notepad, but by the time I locate a pencil the thought is gone -- darn it -- now I begin trying to remember. If I can just stop, give up for a while, it will suddenly pop into my mind -- it's funny how that happens.

We've shared these thoughts with others and find it happens to many people; we aren't alone, thank goodness.

We checked the dictionary. The definition of "memory" is the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information. OK.

In the beginning, a child learns the alphabet, to count to 100, the family address and phone numbers. We had to memorize the multiplication time tables. Now the calculator has taken over these.

From that point on, our mind stores and remembers information like a computer, but a computer doesn't forget like a human mind can.

With luck, we will store pleasant memories. We don't want to use up the storage space with unpleasant stuff.

We are envious of those who can recall family members on the family tree. We have trouble knowing who's related to whom.

Many times a person will speak to us and call us by name or tell us they have read our story in the paper, and we can't always remember their names or where we met them before. That makes us feel funny, and four days later, the mind keeps trying to recall. Please don't be offended if we say "Golly, we can't remember your name and help us know how it is you know us."

Ideas on memory for this story were taken from an article written by John Schlageck where he referred to the book "The Mood of Christmas" by Howard Thurman. What Thurman urges in his book is to use your memory now, today and often.

When we reach senior age, the important things to remember are: don't forget to take your medications, always think positive, give thanks to God, smile a lot, and say "I love you" and mean it.

Jim and Opal Flinn, Ellis, are members of the Generations Advisory Group.