For almost 2,000 years, well-intentioned people of all faiths have, whether they knew it or not, abided by some of what the famous "Sermon on the Mount" taught, whether applying the golden rule in their lives or just being considerate, understanding or kind.

Nevertheless, the real challenge for most people, perhaps even more than loving one’s enemies, contained in that famous sermon is “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This challenge is understandable since many things with little commercial value to others are priceless to us when they are associated with cherished memories. Not long ago, my brother dug up and we restored our old movies and slides, carefully preserved but deteriorating from the effects of time. Of course, while seeing old friends and cherished family members when they were young, happy and healthy brought the most joy, I was amazed to see how other objects, mostly forgotten, brought back such mixed feelings.

Like the picture of me at 7 years old on a family day trip to West Point holding my first, cherished football, which someone swiped later that day.

Or the 1964 Mercedes-Benz my dad brought back from a trip to Germany that took us uncounted times to Jones Beach. What a joy to remember trips to Palisades Park and visits to my beloved grandfather in Florida. It elicits memories of even mundane trips to the long-gone stores like Korvette, where we did our shopping, and, of course, Shea Stadium, where I saw the first of many Mets games in August 1971. (A young and dominant Tom Seaver pitched a complete game, beating the Padres 2-1 on Cleon Jones’ walk-off homer in the ninth.) 

Sadly, rust from years of road salt consumed that car, the only one my brothers and I knew until we were teenagers.

More recently, a fire in my garage destroyed many of my now-grown daughter’s old toys, which I had stubbornly hoarded. It was not hard disposing of the items as far as my girls were concerned — they forgot about them years ago. But for me, gone were the Happy Meal toys we collected on our weekly trips to McDonald’s, where my girls played with reckless abandon in the ball house, and the books they enjoyed having me read to them nightly at bedtime. These are events I will never forget.

I guess that is the point. Truly beautiful memories never die even when the objects associated with so many of them are lost. As a writer expressed so beautifully last year in this column about the swing set the family had in their yard: “I could not hold onto my children’s youth, but I held on to the memory of them on that swing.”

Yes, we should not store up or put too much emphasis on things we cannot take with us when our time here is up. We should never forget, and always be grateful, that cherished memories — unlike objects — can never be stolen, burned up or slowly consumed by time.

Tom Aydinian,

Queens Village 

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