How much do you recall about your childhood? How far back are your memories clear and precise? It’s amazing how different people tend to be in how much we can remember.


Last fall in his irregular blog, fellow-preacher and author John Smith confided in us that he has few memories of his early days. And he told us how much he regrets that he let his father slip from this life without asking him specific questions about those now-lost days.


Unlike John, I am blessed to have specific, clear recall of many places or events when I was just 3. I have no shortage of memories when I was just a brat. But John’s blog struck a tender spot in my soul when he wrote about questions he wishes he had asked his dad.


In my case, though, it was my mother I failed to interview adequately before the malignant brain tumor and the medical therapies aimed at it ended any chance for us to probe her precious, copious memories.


Mom was our family historian. Not only did she know all the birthdays and anniversaries and addresses of all our kinfolks and friends. She knew delightful tales about a host of our long-dead ancestors. At various times in my younger days I heard a lot of those historical anecdotes, but it never dawned on me to record them or to take notes or to write them down.


One of my great-grandfathers was a Texas Ranger. Another one homesteaded arid ranch land in West Texas and pioneered UPS and FedEx in mule-and-wagon days. My mother has been in heaven almost three decades now, but — like my colleague John — I regret not taking time to let her answer all sorts of questions about those bigger-than-life forefathers she knew so well. As far as I’m concerned, their stories died when she did.


And it’s not just the memories of aging parents that get enclosed forever in a coffin. Even sadder, far too many of "The Greatest Generation" have been laid to rest without their children and grandchildren slowing down their hectic lives long enough to let those precious ancestors share the deepest aspects of their faith.


How many of us find time — make time — to discuss key scriptures with the older generation that fed us, led us, guided us in so many other ways? We have sought and valued their wisdom about everything from money to sex. What about faith?


God has always chosen to identify himself as "the God of your fathers." Will that work with our kids?


Gene Shelburne is pastor emeritus of the Anna Street Church of Christ, 2310 Anna St., Amarillo. Contact him at GeneShel@aol.com, or get his books and magazines at www.annastreetchurch.org. His column has run on the Faith page for more than three decades.