The last Hawaiian sugar mill is closing this week. Once the prime source of income for Hawai’i, the sugar fields can no longer compete with more efficient operations on the mainland or with sugar plantations elsewhere, such as Brazil.
Having lived in Hawai’i for the decade of the 70s, I happily remember the smell of the burning sugar cane. They burn it before they harvest it! It was wonderful smelling air pollution, almost as pleasant as that of the Dole Pineapple plant when the wind wafted the scent of the pineapple up into Manoa Valley, where we lived.
Memories are always important to us but they become especially sweet when we remember things that are no more. our memories of things — or persons — now gone are the bridge which link today to yesterday.
We’re not lost in time. I’m still the same little boy who, 70 years ago, picked grapes in the small vineyard across the street from our house. It was so small that it took only two houses to supplant it. Yes, the houses have been there more than 60 years but I know what that little patch of land is really all about because I remember its grapes. And the huge black walnut tree that surrendered to a street widening project 65 years ago is still cherished in my memory.
No, you don’t need to remind me that old people and their memories are the butt of many a joke. But those jokes are told only by those who are too young to realize how good and rich and meaningful are our memories.
Thousands of years ago another person put a note on a cave wall asking us to remember him always. He couldn’t write, of course, but his hand print conveys the message quite well. He made his mark on life and in the process he has touched my heart. The bridge is strong from him to me and to others who will follow me.
The 16 year old son of a friend of mine hanged himself yesterday. He always seemed so healthy and happy. Somehow he must have come to the conclusion that he’d never be able to make his own mark, never be worth remembering. But he was wrong. He will be cherished in memory for a long, long time to come.
And so will you. And so will I.
David the Psalmist writes in Psalm 56, “You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your record?” David knew that every tear was to be preserved and cherished in God’s infinite, timeless memory.
And so will yours. And so will mine.