One of the most difficult trials I have faced was seeing my mother lose her memory. “She is not who she once was”, I would say, and no one ever asked me to explain what I meant. They knew.
Without our memory, we lose track of our identity. Our memory helps us carry along our experiences in life, our responses to them and especially our relationships to others and everything else that makes us who we are.
We could reason of course, that my mom was still who she was regardless of what she could recall of herself, and technically, we would be correct. The fact remains, however, that when we lose our memory, we lose with it our conscious connection to who we are.
When Dorcas died, as Luke records the story in Acts 9:36-43, her body was lovingly cared for as she had been a woman who continually abounded with deeds of kindness and charity. Two men were sent to find Peter in the town of Lydda, and they implored him to come at once to the city of Joppa where Dorcas’ body lay. Upon his arrival, Luke says, “All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them”.
Though Dorcas was gone, they remembered her for who she was and all she did. In remembering, they understood what she meant to them and the wonderful way her life had impacted theirs.
Peter raised Dorcas and presented her alive to her loved ones resulting in many coming to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We still, like Dorcas’ loved ones, should call to memory those from whose works and sacrifices we have benefited.
As my mom’s recollection of her past once allowed her a solid sense of her own identity, so do the remembrances we choose to honor help to shape us into who we are today. To neglect to remember, would seem to me a spiritual and even more tragic form of Alzheimer’s.