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By Jesse Utz 

A day for remembering

Jess Shut Up


As I write this today, my mind is wandering. You see, I just finished burying a neighbor’s pet, and my heart is broken for the Hearne family at the same time. Also, all day long we were going through boxes that have been in storage, some since our house fire years ago. A day of remembering.

My first memories of Kenny Hearne go back to our grade school days. He was in my brother’s grade and I remember him vividly. Kenny was a one-of-a-kind kid who did not take teasing easily. He was a serious person, but once you got to know him, he would open up a little and you could see he was a kid who just wanted to have fun and be the best at what he did. I think he got the competitive drive from his dad. Well, I know he did.

I can remember when he was a little bit older and we all played in the recreational softball league. Clay’s team was the team we, an all-kids team, always wanted to beat. We all would, in good fun, run our jaws at each other and, of course, Kenny was on his dad’s team. He was always quick to defend his team and, of course, Clay was his world. Kenny was just as competitive as his dad, and when his dad got mad, so did Kenny; and when the team did well, the smile I still remember plastered from ear to ear was one of pride and joy.

Later, as we all grew up, Kenny would pick up the paper from The Star for his dad. I would be sitting right inside the door when he would pop in to pick up the news. I tried to talk with Kenny when he came in, but he was always on a mission and did not have time to chat. He would say, “gotta get the paper to dad,” then grab the paper and dash out with that same smile on his face. I will always remember that smile and the pride Kenny showed for doing something for his family.

The boxes of stuff stored was also a memory-jolting adventure for us today; boxes that reminded us of the past; a ceramic firefighter with the word Terry printed on it, made by Aunt Micky for her brother; Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt stuff that rang out with the name of Franky; wedding decorations that still sang out the wedding song of Nicollette and Brad; wrestling medals that still clanked together with the same sound they had when Levi won them; Husky stuff that screamed Husky fever, with which Ron lived; fire gear that reminded us of past careers; photos with stories from the past; books filled with words from a time long ago that still ring true today; and we cannot forget the naval uniform once worn by a fresh-faced, beautiful girl with big ambitions. The memories in this boxes can overwhelm, but it is still just stuff; stuff that will someday very soon be sitting on a table with other stuff being sold for just a fraction of what the memory is worth. On one hand, we say this is too much junk. On the other we cling to the memory that comes with it. Cherished time that cannot be gotten back.

Then we get home. Right away we see the heartbreaking scene laid out in front of us. The neighbor’s cat had been missing for a few days. We were pretty sure we all knew what had happened, but seeing the picture you’d had in your head manifest in the reality of this world is a little different. Without a second thought, we collected the cat and started digging. Then notified the neighbors that what we had feared was true. We thought of our own cats and how our heart would be just as broken as theirs is now. I do not look forward to that day, but I know that is part of being a pet owner; we know that it will not last forever, but it always comes too soon.

Memories. Sometimes that is all we have left. The smile of a kid wanting to make his dad proud, the box full of dusty treasures and the pet that grew up under our feet and playing in the shadows. Treasure those memories and keep them close to your heart.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Hearne family and the Covington family. May your memories make you smile.

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