Dave, a dear friend of mine, called me several weeks ago and suggested that I get a copy of Roger Ebert’s new book “Life Itself: A Memoir.” He immediately let me know that it was the kind of book that I would enjoy and furthermore, he let me know that Roger’s writing style is similar to mine. Well, that piqued my curiosity, so I went out to Amazon, read a free excerpt, and immediately bought and downloaded the book onto my iPad. It’s been difficult to put down.
For those of you who don’t know, Roger Ebert, the famous movie critic, has battled cancer and has lost his ability to converse orally the way he used to. In the opening pages of the book, he tells his readers that for some reason, he now finds that his memories are much more detailed than they used to be before his illness. He stated that he doesn’t have to try to remember stuff – it’s just there as he thinks about the past. And it’s there in great detail – amazing detail if I do say so myself.
Now this is very interesting to me, because I feel the same way. Thank God, I have not had cancer, but throughout the time I have been writing TBTB I have found that my memory is very clear about details of the distant past. In fact, many of you have written to me and asked how I remember so much about the past. The answer? I have no idea – half the time I don’t even know what I will write about until I open the computer and shoot up a little arrow prayer. Other times, I just know….. I can’t explain it. And when I write, the memories just seem to keep on coming. Details that I have forgotten suddenly spring to life and appear just in time to put them on the page.
So imagine my surprise when I was reading Roger’s book about his childhood and he mentioned traveling from Champaign-Urbana, in central Illinois, to Beverly Hills to eat at Mickelberry’s Log Cabin Restaurant. I had forgotten all about it, but suddenly, memories kept flooding back into my brain. I just had to write about it tonight.
That’s because I used to go there with my mother and grandparents, usually when Dad was on the road. In fact, I don’t remember ever being there with him. But I know that Grandpa and Grandma loved the place. Mom, too. And when I asked Janet if she remembered it, at 95th and Oakley, she immediately also had recollections of her childhood dinners with her family as well.
What made Mickelberry’s so special was that it was like an old log cabin. The waitresses were stellar and the food was terrific. I used to order spare ribs almost every time I was there. They were $2.95. And they had a great chocolate sundae for dessert. But the special part of the dinner was the ambiance of the place – a really small entrance into the dining room, red checkered tablecloths and as I recall, they were always pretty busy. I went online and found out that in their fifteenth year of operations they served more than 350,000 people – in one year! No wonder I thought it was always packed. Anyway, the place was bombed in 1964 and then rebuilt for a short period of time until 1967, when it was closed for good. What a loss for the community…. I was 14.
It was located within a mile of both Janet’s and our home. And it was almost directly across the street from where I worked when I was in high school – Beverly Electric – but that’s a different post for another time.
I do, remember, however, how my grandparents mourned the loss of that place. And so did Mom. And Janet says that she remembers when it shut down as well. Another common memory that Janet and I share from our childhood. Her sisters and parents will probably remember it as well… So what does this have to do with successful transitions? Well, because as I have said before, memories are important. And sometimes it takes something like Roger Ebert’s book to jog our recollections. Then it becomes something of a blessing as well as a surprise.
And therein lies the lesson for today – God wants us to remember Him, and pass on information about Him to our children, and their children, and their children. This theme of remembering in prevalent throughout the Bible. As Peter is preparing for the end of his life, he admonishes the people to remember the truth about Christ. He lets us know in 2 Peter 1:13-15, “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” So it is with our children and the generations to come. They need to hear the truth about God – again, and again, and again. We are the chosen people to accept that challenge.
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that we should never get weary from teaching the truth about the Scriptures and using examples from our own lives to bring these memories to life for our children. And my prayer is that God will honor your effort and that the God of our Fathers will be remembered by those who come after us, for all time.