July 4, 2012 — The dictionary defines “indelible” as “unable to be forgotten; memorable.”
All of us have had indelible moments occur in our lives, sometimes without realizing.
I relived one of mine recently as I watched the moonlit Atlantic Ocean surf crash onto the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
My mind raced back more than 50 years as I recalled the thrill of seeing the ocean for the first time as an awestruck teenager on a family vacation down the coast in South Carolina.
Some of our indelible memories we share with millions of others like where we were and what we were doing when major events occurred such as 9-11.
Seeing my first child a few minutes after his birth was a thrill to be repeated seven times.
Fortunately, St. Claire Regional Medical Center changed its maternity policy after the first two and I had a front row seat for the last six, even though my wife still says I was the worst Lamaze coach ever.
As a lifelong fan of Elvis Presley, I clearly remember that I was helping mow a cemetery when we learned of his untimely death.
I was sitting at my desk in a newspaper office late one night when my editor asked if I knew someone from my hometown who just had been reported killed in action in Vietnam. It was my best friend from childhood.
I had seen persons die before but that did not prepare me for the emotional impact of holding my own dear mother’s hand and feel it turn cold as she completed her life’s journey.
True to form to the end, a few hours earlier she had lapsed into a coma in her hospital room while writing a check for family Christmas gifts.
I rushed to the scene of the Silver Bridge disaster in Gallipolis, Ohio, in December 1967 and watched in horror as Christmas packages floated in the Ohio River after 31 cars and trucks carrying 46 men, women and children plunged into the icy river. That flashback comes to me gift wrapped each year.
My first national byline by The Associated Press on a prison riot in Ohio was an adrenaline rush never to be forgotten. Now I enjoy seeing that thrill on the faces of young reporters.
As I reflect on these and other indelible moments of my own life, I am convinced that William Faulkner was right when he wrote:
“The past is never dead, it is not even past.”