Sunday, October 07, 2007

Make Memories: Spend Time with Your Kids

The Kansas City skyline and Union Station as observed from atop the Liberty Memorial in 1980.

Kansas City's Liberty Memorial as observed from the south in 1980.

A surprise package arrived this week. It was from my father, who lives about 6 hours southwest of here, in Las Cruces, N.M.

In the package were some slides and a CD of the scanned slides.

On the outside of the unmistakable Eastman Kodak yellow slide box is my dad's unmistakable handwriting, "Sam III -- 110 slides Oct 1980."

By my calculations, I have been alive 12,496 days. A lot of those days are lost in my neural network.
I can tell you nothing about them.

But I remember that day so well. I had forgotten that it was in October -- or even 1980 for that matter. I had forgotten that they ever made 110 film, although I vaguely remember that camera.

What I do remember is my dad spending the day with me. I remember driving around downtown Kansas City. I remember one-way streets. I remember looking for places to park legally. And I remember my dad telling me stories about when he used to work downtown.

I was 7 years old.

That is a humbling kind of feeling for a parent. I happen to have a 7-year-old. I took her to the Texas Tech football game last weekend. We tailgated with some friends before the game. It was fun spending the time together. But never did I consider the possibility that she might remember that day forever.

I've thought about these pictures from time-to-time. Something small will happen, and it will cause me to think of that day. And I'd wondered where the pictures were. I knew that they were somewhere, as, like me, my father keeps everything.

And then the package arrived unannounced. And the power of visual memory took me down memory lane.

Of course I remember the time with my dad. But I also remember a lot about Kansas City, my home. I've always loved the Liberty Memorial. The top picture was taken from the top looking north. Absent are the two new buildings that are now the trademark of the Kansas City skyline, One Kansas City Place and Town Pavilion.

The bottom picture is looking at the Liberty Memorial from the south. In the upper right portion of the picture, you can see the Hyatt Regency hotel. In this photograph -- and others on the roll of film, you can see that the revolving restaurant is not finished. Given that the Hyatt opened in July 1980, this suggests that it took several months for this roll of film to be processed.

Still, more than 27 years later, I am amazed at the way this day imprinted upon me. Why did this .008 percent of my life make such an impression?

The thing is, you cannot choose which days will imprint upon your children. That is up to them and the idiosyncrasies of human memory. Many times I have heard my dad tell the story of taking his twins (from his first marriage) to see the Kansas City A's. Mickey Mantle hit a home run that day, and dad tried to impress upon the girls the history of the moment to no avail. Years later they do not remember the day.

I suppose that the answer is to simply try to give your kids as many memories as possible. I don't do that enough, although this posting was interrupted for an hour or so as we went to the park to feed the ducks and play on the equipment.

A view of the ducks and geese taken by my 9-year-old moments before the birds mobbed us in a fashion that would have made Hitchcock proud.

Perhaps I will never know what motivated my dad to take me around town that sunny Kansas City day in 1980. I just know that he did.

It's funny how this roll of film is at the intersection of so many childhood memories. That incomplete revolving restaurant, Skies, in the bottom picture became my favorite. It would become a birthday tradition.

Less than a year after these pictures were taken, 114 people died in that Hyatt hotel. It was a Friday night, and we were driving around buying a bunk bed as my 8th birthday present. I can still remember the chilling radio report.

Twenty-three years later, I would return to the Hyatt as a guest. In 2003, the hotel hosted the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Here is a picture of me with colleague James Angelini at that conference.

I always had a love for Downtown Kansas City, even though it never really revitalized during my lifetime. I think that love may have started this 1980 day. I don't know why it happened, but I am glad that it did.

If you're a parent, I hope you take some time with your kids to make a memory that will last a lifetime.

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Anonymous My Daily Thoughts said...

Kids need attention. Parents sometimes forget this important aspect of being a parent because of the hectic lives. They may not talk about it but it's all inside them. I spend at least 20 to 45 minutes talk with the kids during the weekdays and spend the whole day during the weekend. Know who your kids are because many changes occur as they grow. Let them know who you are, aside from being their parents and you'll be surprised how they open some of their secrets, because they trust you. Thanks for sharing

8:24 AM  

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