Make a Memory is a movement, a challenge to turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did in 2015.

Reach out and claim an adventure this year. Make a Memory before it’s too late.

Tori Nelson appears in Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace. When we met, we had no idea where 2014 would veer. It’s no coincidence that the In Memoriam dedication for my memoir is to Tori’s father.

Read why in her own words.


Monday Full of Grace by Tori Nelson

It was a last minute trip to visit Dad. My son and I would stop in Jackson for a night before heading to Memphis to see a friend. I’d made these little trips before, to check in, to let Thomas and Poppi enjoy a little time together. This was a Monday not unlike any of the Thursdays or Saturdays of the past: making sure despite the couple hundred miles between us, my dad was always part of our family picture.

When I think of that Monday, I see Grace. 

I see blue carpet, my son & my dad pow-wowing with an empty tackle box, its contents spilled across the floor: army patches, coins, a $10 receipt from the day Dad’s father bought his mother a wedding ring. Thomas’s little fingers snatch a broken watch from Poppi’s thick palm. “Jewelllsss,” the toddler marvels, mesmerized by this dusty treasure, a lifetime collection of my dad’s beloved trinkets. I smell pizza for dinner and thick wax of crayons furiously scribbling a stick figure family portrait. My son holds the picture up and waits for praise. “I LOVE YOU POPPI” it says and I tell him it is perfect. Through the doorway I catch a private exchange between my two favorite boys. Thomas wraps his scrawny arms around Dad’s neck and lets out a cartoonish grunt, a signal that he is giving you his most sacred, fiercest hug. And just barely, but enough, I see my dad close his eyes, sniff my little boy’s head, savoring this time with his grandson. He releases from the hug with a chuckle but I see the shimmer of jewels, tears shining like glass in his eyes. And at the end of our day I hear his big footsteps trying to tread lightly in the hall. Dad sneaks into the room where Thomas and I are sleeping, lays the blanket from his bed across us. I know this leaves his bed bare and maybe that’s why I’m crying quietly then, the selflessness of him. Or maybe it is that even as I raised my own kid, ran my own house, I was the lucky one to get a dad who still loved me always as his little girl. Maybe it feels good to be so completely cared for. We parted ways Tuesday morning, hugs and reassurances of many more visits to come, and I assumed over the next 48 hours that

I could bet my money on this: the promise of more time to come. My sweet dad was murdered just two days later.

The shock of losing my most gentle, constant friend in such a dark way might never wear off. I’ll still be surprised that such a good person can meet such a cruel end until the day my life ends, too. But while I cannot understand what happened to him that Thursday, I am so overwhelmingly thankful for that Monday. In this time when my family and I are desperate for grace, I know I had it that day, for those minutes. That visit was a gift, a last opportunity without my knowing it to show the lovely way we loved each other.

Grace is not getting everything you want.

My dad would be safe & happy & headed here for a visit right now if it were. Grace is the faintest light amid the darkest dark.  That Monday memories were made that I pray enveloped my dad in his last frightening moments on this earth. I pray that he felt those fiercest hugs, heard the laughter, was surrounded by the love of a sunny Monday. I know that visit was his Grace, too.  The love, the tiniest ordinary time spent, those memories are what I have left now that he is gone. And it is nothing short of miraculous Grace that we made them when we did.


tori and her dadTori Nelson Young lives in Gallatin, Tennessee. She is wife to Tom and mom to Thomas plus two crazy dogs. But I am especially lucky to call her a dear friend to me. You can find out more about Tori HERE.

Who would you invite to Make a Memory? What would you do together?

Share your invitations on social media with the hashtag #MakeaMemory. Tag your loved ones. Make a Memory in 2015. To get started, click HERE.

Be among the first readers of Not Without My Father. Pre-order your copies NOW. (Nook and Barnes & Noble coming January 15, 2015.)

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