Keepin’ It Real with Cam Marston

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Weekly Commentaries and Videos

Keepin’ It Real with Cam Marston are weekly commentaries airing at 7:45AM and 4:45PM on Fridays on Alabama Public Radio since 2018. Each tells a story designed to deliver motivation, inspiration, or humor. The commentaries have won both state-wide and national awards.

The Keepin’ It Real with Cam Marston videos are 26 short (3:30s+/-) videos designed to deliver motivation, inspiration, and awareness around important workplace topics. Workplaces utilize the videos to build teams, develop a positive and inclusive workplace culture, and become a common conversation topic for employees, teams, and workplaces. The videos are branded for the organization and each video comes with a Learning Supplement to help team leaders debrief the video.

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Listen to the Keepin’ It Real commentaries Fridays on Alabama Public Radio (WQPR-Muscle Shoals, WAPR-Selma & Montgomery, WHIL-Mobile, W264AI-Maysville) & KXCR in Florence, Oregon

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Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On February 23, 2024

Squeezed

Cam’s phone has been ringing. It’s a lot of his small business friends and they’re experiencing similar things. They’re feeling pressure. They’re feeling squeezed.

—–

When an orange is squeezed, orange juice comes out. We know this. We know that sun and good soil and water and maybe some fertilizer help that orange develop that juice. We know the ingredients, we somewhat control the ingredients, and we know the goodness that comes from a squeezed orange. What happens, though, when you and I are squeezed? What happens when life puts pressure on you and me? What ingredients are we drawing on when we’re squeezed? And what results?

I read this question in Rick Ruben’s new book about creativity. He pulled it from an old school motivational speaker named Wayne Dyer. The metaphor’s been around the block a few times. But, it still resonates.

In the past two weeks, I’ve had four small business friends share that things aren’t going well for them right now. A fifth one chimed in this morning with the same report. Regardless of what the economists say – some say it’s great out there, others say it’s dire – for my five small business friends and me, we’re feeling squeezed. Pressure.

One friend desperately needs orders. And when these times happen, he must remember to do the thing that’s gotten him out of these pressures several times before. He has a beautiful piece of property, and he has to remember to sit comfortably and look out over the expanse – over the pasture and at the trees and the pond. That view provides inspiration and creativity. He has to remember to do it. Otherwise fear and worry will have him buzzing around thinking that busyness is the solution.

Another needs walk-in traffic to his store. And for him, busy hands set his mind to creatively solving his problems. He takes on big projects knowing that somewhere along the line something will trigger a solution to his problem. Busyness presents him a solution.

But the question comes back to what are the ingredients we’re putting into ourselves so that when we’re squeezed something positive comes out? Life’s going to squeeze you. For the vast majority of us, it has already, I’m sure. How are you preparing for the inevitable squeeze? Have I prepared appropriately for this squeeze? What are the ingredients I’m putting in? And what’s the pressure doing to them?

Time will tell. Assuming the squeeze ends at some point, I can then look back and evaluate. Right now, my effort includes a work ethic having me make lots of phone calls to interact with old colleagues and working to meet new ones. I’m forcing curiosity by asking them “what’s new?”, “what’s going on?”, “where’s your pain?” I’m working hard to keep a positive attitude about letting go of what’s always worked in favor of trying something new. I’m asking, “What do people want from me?” not stating “Here’s what people should want from me.” These success ingredients I’ve used before but I’m having to create new variations.

I’m working to embrace the struggle. To embrace the squeeze. Because, so often, this is where the good stuff happens. And I’m counting on it again.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On February 16, 2024

Lent

Mardi Gras ended Tuesday for Cam. Immediately following Mardi Gras is the beginning of Lent and Cam struggles with what sacrifices he should make.

—–

Lent. I struggle with Lent every year. How much suffering is enough to prepare my soul for the Easter arrival of the Lord? Is there enough? Who knows. There’s always someone suffering more; someone taking it to the next level.

As a child it was ice cream. I gave up ice cream every year and dutifully reported it to my religion teacher as the assignment instructed. I love ice cream, vanilla especially. In fact, I’ve created an association called the Vanilla Ice Cream Eaters of America Social Aide and Pleasure Club. It’s known by its acronym: VICEA. Our motto is “It comes from Udder Space” and our logo shows a scoop of vanilla with Saturn rings around it and a Holstein cow walking across it. We’ve had a Facebook page since 2008 edited by Holt Stein. It has fifteen members.

However, I don’t eat vanilla like I used to. It’s gotten expensive. That plus my waist size. Giving up ice cream is, well, too easy. I love the stuff but giving it up wouldn’t equate to enough suffering.

A friend from long ago gave up everything containing wheat for lent. Everything. That’s a lot of stuff. She had to pay close attention to everything she ate. Anything with flour. All beer. Bunches of stuff. She was the same person who kept a bowl of peanut M&Ms at her front door and allowed herself one M&M per day. No more. I eat peanut M&Ms by the double fist full. If they’re in front of me, I eat them. I can’t stop. She had a degree of self-control that is unrelatable.

Another friend gave up alcohol a few years ago. However, he had devised a chart of “skip days” where he could drink. He explained all this over a beer during Lent, by the way. His skip days were quite frequent, and it appeared to the rest of us like they related to the days that he wanted a drink. I was not impressed with his Lenten suffering. Mainly because there wasn’t any.

The good book says we’re created in the image of the Lord. So, imagine hearing prayers saying “I’m planning to remember a big event in your life in about forty days. To prepare properly, I’m implementing things to temporarily remove joy from my life.” I’d say, “Wait. Pardon me? Say that again. Is that what I’m supposed to want from you?”

One year I tried to drink more water for lent. The health effects of more water and all that but it’s not the same. The gest of lent is giving up something you enjoy.

And I’m not sure what to think about it. All the hard-fast black and white rules that I learned as a child have faded into grey. I wish they hadn’t. I knew the rules, I followed the rules, and I counted on the rules to take care of me. It was easier following and never questioning. Now, I question. A lot. And, believe it or not, it’s made me a better follower.

However, I still don’t know what to do about lent.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On February 8, 2024

Dry January

On this week’s Keepin’ it Real, Cam Marston has thoughts about this upcoming weekend. Mardi Gras is on us down here in Mobile, and that leads to some tough decisions.

—–

Dry January ended last week. Dry January followed soaking wet, sodden to the bone December. I’ve never done Dry January before and after sodden December, I needed to give it a try. Aside from one small drink to celebrate my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, I drank no alcohol for thirty-one days. I’m not sure I’ve done that since I was a teen.

The net result? I lost nine pounds. I slept very well every night for a solid month. I was eager to get out of bed each morning. All in all, Dry January was a hit. And I was surprised and thrilled with how easy it was to do. I’m now struggling to decide if I ever want to go back? I’m pretty sure the answer is No. And, my friends, that’s huge.

Some of my favorite people are the guys I gather with every Thursday evening after work. We’ve done it weekly for ten years at the same table. We talk and we chat. We rib each other like guys are prone to do. And we have a beer or two.

In early January, I avoided those Thursday gatherings, afraid that seeing a cold beer would tempt me too much and I’d cave. And I might have. However, by late January I had developed confidence in my Dry January and I was joining my group and ordering a NA beer.

What I learned in Dry January is that I’m not nearly as funny as I thought I was back in December. And maybe even for a decade before that. For years I’ve laughed at my jokes until tears poured from my eyes. And my friends were hilarious, too. Well, in Dry January, nobody was funny. Especially me.

A different friend hasn’t had a drink in over ten years. I now feel embarrassed about the times I’ve been with him with a few beers in me and I realized he wasn’t laughing at what everyone else thought was hysterical. In Dry January, it became clear why.

And I’m not sure what’s gonna happen. This new me is fond of this new me. But I liked the old me, too. And as of today, we’re entering the teeth of the Mardi Gras celebration here in Mobile. Mardi Gras about silliness and revelry and I enjoy both of them and a drink always helps with both of them. It’s a quandary.

I know that creating a grand drinking strategy for Mardi Gras is foolish. Temptation is everywhere and I know myself well enough to know that I manage temptation poorly.

However, my uncle told me that he stopped smoking by telling himself that when he wanted a cigarette, if he still wanted one in ten minutes, he’d smoke one and not feel bad about it. Gradually he stopped wanting them at all. I’m going to adopt his strategy and call it “the ten-minute delay plan for an uncertain semi-reformed drinker.” If I want a drink, I’ll wait ten minutes. After ten minutes, If I still want one, I’ll get one. And won’t feel bad about it.

And if you spot me laughing hard with my friends, you’ll know what happened.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On January 31, 2024

God Stop

What do you call it when your certain plans are suddenly upended? They’re changed with no warning? You call it a God-stop. On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam shares his experiences with them. 

—–

A friend told me a story about how he had applied for a job a long way from home. His potential new employer had said they were going to make a very attractive offer. My friend and his wife began discussing selling their home and moving their kids to a new school. It was certain to happen and then…it didn’t. The job offer never came. His calls to the new employer to get an answer or a simple explanation went unanswered. “I’ve been in business a long time,” he said, “and no one had ever disrespected me like that before.” He had already left his former employer and was now jobless. He was crushed and wondered what he was going to do.

Over lunch my friend told me the business he was now a part of was about to sell and some of the sale would come his way. The new role had been a perfect fit for him. His talents soared there, his skills were cherished, and his team had come to not only rely on him, but to really like him. It was the best job he’d ever had, he told me.

“What about the other job? The one they never called you back?” I asked. “It was a God stop,” he said. “That’s the only explanation I have.”

A God stop. Where a part of the Master’s plan is to firmly close the door on what we thought was certain. A divine interruption. No explanation can be offered other than the supernatural. How many God stops have each of us had? Lots, I suspect. And in hindsight, they’re always for the best.

Yet that’s the very problem with God stops. It’s only in hindsight that we recognize them. In the moment, they’re agonizing. They feel like abandonment. They feed our uncertainties and escalate our fears. In the moment, they’re awful. And we don’t recognize them as God stops. They look and sound and feel like failure. 

My focus in such instances is too often on what didn’t happen. The narrative I had created in my mind of what I wanted, of what I thought was certain, was beautiful. It was leading me to the land of milk and honey. I struggle to focus on what might now happen because I was so embedded in narrative I had created. Perhaps this new destination will be even greater.

If we lived in the now, as countless sages have told us we should for millennia, God stops would never cause a problem. If we could manage our imagination, God stops wouldn’t feel like disappointment. Instead we – or at least I – live in the future with a runaway imagination and I often struggle whenever my plans meet a God stop. I focus on the door that’s just closed instead of stepping back to find a new door that’s standing wide open.

The goal, I guess, is to recognize the moment for what it is. It’s not failure. It’s not a loss. It’s a God stop. And somewhere an open door is waiting for me.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On January 24, 2024

Twenty-One

Cam spent Monday evening at a big party for a small group of twenty-one year olds. To say the least, times have changed. Here’s what he saw.

—–

A moment after midnight on March 4th, 1990, I stood on a barstool and declared loudly to the packed bar that I had just turned twenty one years old. I was in Boulder, Colorado. A moment later the bouncer had me by the shirt and said, “That means you used a fake ID to get in”, which was true. I was nearly carried, my feet barely touching the ground, to the door and tossed into the street.

Oddly enough, the same story happened to my wife, long before we met. It was a stroke after midnight on July 13th, 1991, and she was on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her declaration was not made atop a bar stool. She was greeted by cheers from her friends and was bought a round of drinks.

In both instances, our parents were not there. And, in both instances no evidence exists that any of it ever happened.

Monday night in Oxford, Mississippi, I was with my favorite oldest daughter in a bar called The Summit. All her crowd was there plus more. She and her friends who had turned twenty-one over the Christmas break banded together to celebrate. My wife and I were invited. We were, in fact, encouraged to come. Decorators created an Instagram-able background including a balloon-arch and streamers. There was a platter of cupcakes in the shape of 21.

Picture books were created for each of the birthday girls. The girls wore bawdy signs around their necks for the night. After a couple hours, my wife and I sensed the tide turning, the energy increasing, and a bar full twenty-one-year-olds were about to begin doing what bars full of twenty-one-year old’s do. My wife and I paid our part of the tab, hugged our daughter, posed for countless photos with her, and got the hell out of there. This is a low estimate, but approximately 55 million billion photos were taken in the two hours of the party.

This is not the way I would have wanted it, I kept thinking to myself. But the truth is, I didn’t have a pocket full of magic back in 1990. While it was her celebration, the cell phone and its camera, this magical device, drove the show.

I read somewhere that today mankind takes more photos in one day than we did from the invention of the camara roughly two hundred years ago to today.

The picture books she was given were made quickly compared to what it would have taken back in 1990 – imagine developing 35mm film, duplicates, photo booths. The sign she wore was full of images, printed as a whole, and laminated. It certainly took some effort, but simple compared to what it would have taken back in the day.

As much as I wanted to flinch, she and her whole party were a reflection of what technology has created. A natural consequence. Said another way, while I’d like to think differently, had the technology been available, I would have probably wanted the same. But I am indeed happy my parents weren’t there. And I am indeed very happy no evidence remains.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On January 17, 2024

Resident Cynic

My real name is Charles. But Chuck and Chas live inside me. Chuck was trying to get out this week. Chas had to try to keep in under control.

—–

An icicle hangs from the roof of my house. I’m looking at it but still can’t quite believe it. Icicles are very rare here. Usually reserved for the freezer door that was left open overnight. A winter storm blew through and Mobile, Alabama is doing what it usually does when it gets below average cold – we’re freaking out.

School is cancelled, quote, “out of an abundance of caution” for the kids. There’s no rebuttal to that phrase. It can’t be argued. Right now, my kids are picking up their friends to go to lunch. School was cancelled to keep the kids off the hazardous roads. The roads are fine, and my kids are loving it. There’s no abundance of caution in them. There’s about to be an abundance of Chick Fil A.  

I learned yesterday my generator that died at 3am in last week’s storm is unrepairable. It’s dead. The technician, a very nice guy, felt guilty telling me the replacement part I bought won’t work due to the alternator being destroyed by what was probably a lightning strike. Replacing the alternator would cost as much as a new generator. So, it’s dead. Here, he said, is his bill for the replacement part and for his time replacing it even though the generator is unfixable. That stung.

We are but nineteen days into 2024 and Nick Saban has retired, the election year chaos has started, we’ve had a horrible storm that knocked out the power then its lightning killed my generator, it’s now too cold to go outside, there’s an icicle on my roof, and my kids should be in school but instead are at Chik Fil A with their friends. If I could rhyme all this with beer and mud and tire it would be a country music smash.  

A cynic lives inside of me. He’s powerful. I call him Chuck. When he gets out, he becomes uncontrollable. He runs amok. It’s been a life-long challenge to keep Chuck at bay. And it’s times like this that he’s banging at the door to tell the world what he thinks. What he sees. What the real truth is. And what’s wrong with everybody. Chuck is a know it all. And I don’t like him, but Chuck does live here. And it’s on days like today that he rages to get out.

Chuck’s foil, lives here, too. His name is Chas. Chas finds what’s right and what’s good and what is working. Chas sees the bright side. His cup is half-full. It took years for Chas to show up. And Chas has to be groomed and fed and nurtured every single day or he’ll vanish. Chuck needs nothing to thrive. He feeds on everything. Nurturing Chas requires discipline. He’s delicate but vital and I need him now.

Chuck says it’s one skinny icicle, why are my kids out of school? Chas says the surprise on my kid’s face from no school today was wonderful to watch.

I’m Cam Marston and on behalf of Chuck, Chas, and myself, we’re just trying to Keep it Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On January 12, 2024

Kids These Days

Storms blew through Monday night. It was tough weather. I survived. My daughter? It was the aftermath of the storm that nearly broke her…

—–

My favorite oldest daughter is upset. “I just can’t deal with this. It’s just too much,” she keeps saying. She’s leaving for a bit. She needs to get out of the house. “I’m going to Starbucks,” she says. “I’ll be back later.” My wife and I say nothing.

You see, the power is out. The big storms that cruised through Monday night left us in the dark. It’s now Tuesday afternoon and the power company estimates another thirty hours or so before power returns. And the home generator, which kept a few rooms working, died about 3am Monday morning.

My daughter needs her wireless, her internet. Apparently, the LTE signal she’s getting is not quick enough for her. And she has no place to charge her phone. So, Starbucks.

We have water here. We have food. It’s cool outside but not cold. We have plenty of clothes and blankets. We won’t freeze. We have places to go to bathe. But she needs her internet. She waited patiently for it to load but the LTE took too long. She needs to Snap and to Insta more quickly. This adversity, well, for the moment, is just too much.

Somehow, she slept through the storms. The rain lashed the house. The wind howled. The power flickered on and off through the night, causing countless electronics to beep each time. My wife and I could hear horns and sirens as tornado warnings sounded. There were sounds of firetrucks and ambulances throughout the night. My daughter awoke the next morning and asked what was going on.

My wife and I were zombies – we had been up all night ready to react to any roof leaks, trees on the house, windows broken, or windows blown open. How she slept through it I don’t know. My wife and I were boiling a pot of water for coffee on the gas stove still dressed from last night when my daughter walked in in her pajamas.

I suppose there was something that, as a child, I felt I couldn’t live without. Something that I needed so badly that not having it was “just too much” like my daughter and her speedy internet. What was that thing? Was it my love for my stereo? I loved my stereo. My car? Some sort of clothing? I don’t know. What did my parents think when I couldn’t get that thing and it crippled me? I’m sure they worried about me. Worried about my future. Worried about their future if people like me may someday be in charge. The same worries that I have. That we have. 

The first comment that I’m aware of about one generation looking at the next and worrying about the future comes from Socrates 3400 years ago. 3400 years ago. So, for centuries, centuries, generations have looked at the generations coming behind them and shaken their head. And yet we seemed to have made it. We always survive. Things generally get better. 3400 years of precedent suggests it will again.

So, I’ll button my lip, and I’ll drink my coffee. It’s the best I can do. Otherwise, it’s just too much. 

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On January 5, 2024

God On Our Side

On New Year’s Eve, in my kitchen, I watched a conversation that was exactly as I hoped it would be.

—–

A friend called this past fall. He said, “The Holy Spirit told me to call you and tell you the Holy Spirit wants you and me to make a podcast together. Will you help me?” My goodness. What do you say to that but “Sure. I’ll help you.”

The podcast is about his spiritual journey. He brings his friends on from time to time to tell their stories. My job is to keep us focused on the topic, keep us at around twenty minutes per episode, and toss out a contrary opinion that will help the host clarify his position or story. The podcast is called Jeff’s Last Cast. If you’re the spiritual type and enjoy podcasts, let me know what you think. It’s triggered some soul-searching in me.

One thing I’ve observed from these podcasts is that everyone believes that God supports their decisions and behaviors, whatever they are. And I think this is universal. We all believe that what we’re doing is inspired by God, blessed by God, encouraged by God, or approved by God. We all believe God approves of what we’re doing.

For example, the vigilantes that stormed into Israel in early October were doing it because it was God’s will. We’ve labeled them terrorists, but they believe they were God’s mercenaries. They screamed prayers as they killed. And Israel’s punishing response is certainly God’s will. The loss of life, the remarkable destruction, the hundreds and hundreds of bombs are justifiable for the harm caused by Hamas. God approves. Both sides are acting with God’s blessing.

There are similar beliefs since the rise of Donald Trump. Some say he’s God’s gift to humanity and our nation. God chose him for us. Trump has, in fact, said this himself. He’s deeply flawed, people say, but aren’t we all and who are we to judge? He’s the one God wants.

Those that oppose Trump are convinced that God wants to prevent Trump from having any influence over our nation ever again. Trump is the nearest thing to the anti-Christ our world has ever seen, and God commands us to fight him. Their protests, their online videos, their lawsuits are all weapons in God’s arsenal to prevent Trump’s rise to power . Both sided equally convinced that God is pushing them forward.

The same arguments exist about Biden. Many say God wants him out. Many say God wants him in. They both site Bible passages and signs from above to justify their stances and their actions. They fight each other. They scream at each other. They grow red in the face. Both exactly the same. Both convinced they’re backed by God.

Honestly, I don’t know what to think. But on New Years’ Eve I watched and listed as two great friends quietly, calmly, and respectfully debated politics. They listened to each other. They didn’t interrupt. They considered the other’s point of view. They asked thoughtful questions. In the end they acknowledged that they could see the other’s point of view but respectfully said they couldn’t adopt it for themselves. They smiled. And the conversation moved on. Exactly, I think, the way he would have wanted.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On December 22, 2023

Solstice

Yesterday was the winter solstice. Brings back memories…

—–

Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Said another way, there is more darkness on December 21st than any other day. It’s also the day I got engaged many years ago.

The story I like to tell is that my wife, who was then a collegiate volleyball coach, was watching VHS videos of players she was hoping to recruit. I asked her to stop the video and pay attention to me for a moment or two. She reluctantly did with a “this better be good” expression. I asked her to marry me. She considered the proposition. She looked me up and down a few times. She remained quiet for a terribly uncomfortable amount of time and finally said “Ok” and then hit play on the VCR and returned to her work. She’ll deny much of this story, by the way.

It’s usually the darkest day of the year that I begin my annual Christmas panic purchases. I fear that I’ve underperformed with the gift giving; that my gifts won’t amount to enough. I blow through my preset budgets and start tossing stuff under the Christmas tree in a panic. My kids never mind this. My wife says you’ve done too much, you’ve gone too far. She’s never returned any of the gifts I get her, by the way. She says “You’ve gone overboard” as she takes her bounty with her to the back of the house.

And I get the same complaints from kids every year. “Dad,” they say, “you’re too hard to buy for.” They’re right. Like most fathers I tend to get myself what I want. Every year I struggle to get my father something and this year he flat our said “I don’t want anything. Nothing. Really. Nothing. I’m trying to get rid of all the stuff I have.” However, I’ll get him something. It’ll may be a new phone charger. The one he has is quite dated. It’s powered by a gerbil on a wheel and takes all night to charge his phone. However, I struggle with the question “Is a phone charger the right gift to give your father?” Seems very impersonable. My grandmother used to give the gifts she received back. She’d say, “I’ve enjoyed it for many months. Thank you very much. Now I’m giving it back to you.” We started buying her gifts with that in mind – what will I want in the spring that I can give her for Christmas?

Incidentally, my wife and I married on the summer solstice. We got engaged on the winter solstice and married on the summer solstice. We realized this years later. So my wedding day was absolutely the longest day of the year. That cannot be denied. It’s all in how you say it.

As 2023 winds to a close, I wish you a happy holiday season and a Merry Christmas. Try to slow down. Find a warm fire and stare into it for a while. Fires make good company. There is stress all over during the holidays, but for a short time, try to sluff it off and sit quietly. I’ll do the same.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On December 15, 2023

Leena’s China

A family tree of photographs is at the top of the stairs at my father’s house. 

—–

A picture hangs at the top of the stairs at my parent’s house. It’s of my mother’s grandmother, my great grandmother. I think it’s Grandma Leena. My father and I were trying to figure out who it was. My mother had told me about the picture and about Grandma Leena for years. I never listened. There are a bunch of other pictures. At the top, near the ceiling, are pictures of my mother and father’s family and they form a family tree, coming together, picture by picture, generation by generation, to a picture of my father and mother with my brothers and me. It’s nice. It’s my roots. My mother’s family was from the upper peninsula of Michigan. The cities of Ontonagon and Rockland come to mind. Her grandfather’s corner drug store. Another’s cattle farm. Mom wanted me to know about all these people. “You’ll want to know, someday,” she said.

Mom told us that the happiest times of her life were her summer visits to her grandparents when she was girl. She wanted us to know this. She wanted us to carry her summer memories on . Afraid that with her death they’d be gone. And they are. She died a while back.

In a box in my father’s attic is Grandma Leena’s wedding China. It’s carefully wrapped in brown paper. Each piece brittle and delicate. Mom loved it. My father and I looked at the box. “It’s all hand painted,” he said. My mother’s handwriting across the top. Some of the China visible inside. “You want it?” my father asked? “No. I don’t think so,” I said. “But don’t throw it away. Maybe I will someday.” That China just sits in the box. I don’t know the last time the box was opened. A decade, maybe. If I were to take it, I’d put the China in my attic where it may sit for decades more.

Prior to my mother’s death, she shared a lot of stories with us. And when she could no longer talk, she asked us to tell her stories of our memories of her. Our favorite days. Our funny adventures. She wanted to know she wouldn’t be forgotten.

What is it in us that makes us want to be remembered so badly? And why do we hold on to things cherished by our loved ones that mean so little to us? I don’t know.

We were around the Thanksgiving table at my parent’s cabin in the woods a few weeks back. Lots of food. Lots of smiles. It’s a special place. My mother came to   mind. But I wasn’t remembering her. I was feeling her. She was there with me. In me. I don’t know. It sounds so strange to say. It wasn’t a memory.  It was better than a memory. Again, I can’t explain it.

But I suspect it was it was the same way my mother felt when, every now and then, she opened the box, removed the paper, and held a piece of Grandma Leena’s China.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to keep it real.

 

 

 

 

Check out this episode!

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