Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Audio — Easily Forgotten <~~~ Disclaimer! ūüėČ This is my first attempt at an audio recording and it didn’t actually work. That Is All!

I rarely have trouble remembering the people who have passed through my life and left their mark on me. It’s not often that I forget the things they said or the things they did or the way they treated me. I remember simple interactions that should not, in the grand scheme of things, have settled into my memories. I should not have kept them, I should not recall them at will to relive those times that meant something to me but were just a simple passing to someone else — but I do. I guess that makes me a bit strange or difficult to be around. I’m the one who remembers that phone call you made to me just to say hi and the laughs we shared while we were at lunch and that postcard you mailed that arrived just in time to brighten my day. But, despite my ability to remember some fairly insignificant facts — I sometimes have trouble recalling a name.

I become very aware of this in my work and… Facebook. In my work, I have meaningful contact with a variety of people. We will become fast and furious friends and comrades to problem solve a tough case and for several weeks we spend enormous amounts of time together — then, it’s over. I move on to the next tough case and they become a memory — one that I lose, one that I have difficulty recalling the specifics of… their name escapes me. I often feel the same disconnect with Facebook. I see a face and I think I must know them because most of my friends know them so I must know them as well. But the name holds no meaning to me. And their face seems vaguely familiar but is lost in my over-crowded memory. I wonder… is this me? Is this how I appear to some of you?

I was recently talking to a close friend about fears and if the fears we (and by we I mean me) were having were actually valid or completely made up. I think I have an old person’s fear — the fear of being forgotten. This could possibly be the driving force behind some of my more needy interactions.

I remember when my father had first been diagnosed with lung cancer. We had googled the statistics and knew the overall outlook was grim. He had really never been faced with his own immortality, even at 70, because his health had always been impeccable. At 70, he had never been hospitalized for anything… ever. So, the outlook of lung cancer hit hard. One night in a tearful exchange, he said his biggest fear was for the babies of our family. He was afraid they were so young that they would forget him and how much he loved them. I assured him he would live on in their thoughts — he could rely on the movies and the pictures and me — he could rely on my memory for the minute to tell his stories.

So… back to my own fear of being forgotten. Perhaps this is why I developed such a quick wit (yes, I’m funny in person… I swear). Perhaps this is why I feel so strongly about the words I choose to leave here upon these pages. Perhaps this is why I make sure I remember those simple words and everyday occurrences that bounce off the majority of the people and stick to me. I want to be able to walk away and still have you hold my name close to your heart. I want to be able to leave your side but still have you whisper about me in my absence. I want you to remember that none of us should be easily forgotten.

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I started my 21.5.800 time this morning with yoga — and let the savasana try to quiet me and guide me to wherever it wanted to take me today. My thoughts throughout my yoga practice were of loss and grief and closure. I started thinking the words in my head that I wanted to put down here… words that were about how we shouldn’t be sorry when our loved ones die. Words about how it’s nice to hear a friend say, “I’m sorry for your loss” after three and a half years because the loss is always there. Words about healing and moving on and happiness. But, when you quiet your mind through meditation or prayer or savasana, you can never be quite sure of where it will take you…

I’ve talked often here about the time I spent with my grandparents in southeast Missouri. The summers of gardening and hiking and exploring and hanging out with relatives that were… well, much older than I. Even as a young adult, I made the choice to visit my grandparents often. There house always comforted me (except the creepy basement at night — maybe more on that later.)

When I left home after high school, I settled on a college in Memphis — the thrill of being in a big city was incredibly enticing to me. I soon discovered that the drive to my grandparents house from Memphis was two hours shorter than the drive home — I choose the shorter drive and the doting grandparents quite often when I needed a weekend away from bars and fraternity parties and college life. The weekends I spent with them as a college student very much resembled the endless summers I spent there as a child — with the ever-present reminder that my grandparents were older. My grandfather’s health had suffered greatly as a result of being a smoker — he no longer could work in the garden or the yard and trips to the grocery store were limited. My grandmothers health suffered too from being around a smoker her entire adult life. But still, those weekend visits were memorable.

I would pile all my dirty clothes in a laundry basket and head out of my dorm with a full tank of gas and nothing else. I usually always surprised my grandparents with my visits — I knew if I told them I was coming, they would spend three hours pacing and worrying until I arrived. And there was always something so magical about walking through the door and seeing the look on their faces. I helped cook and I rested and I quieted my mind and my spirit. And when I left, a mere 48 hours later, I was better and focused and rejuvenated.

The night before I returned to school, my grandmother and I would always make a cake. Usually my favorite, Red Velvet. As you can imagine, my grandmother never used a box to cook in her life — everything, from scratch. (I made her write that recipe down — I have it still.) When I would leave their house, my grandmother would wrap that cake up tightly and place it in the floorboard of my front seat. My grandfather would tape a large piece of paper to my back driver side window that read, “In case of emergency please call…, this is my granddaughter”. And finally, after I loaded all my, now cleaned and pressed, clothes into the backseat, my grandmother would slyly slip a $20 bill into my hand — and I would leave, until the next surprise visit.

Savasana can take you to some very interesting places. It can quiet your mind just enough to smell the fresh laundry hanging outside in your grandparents back yard, or it can fool your mind into thinking you taste the fluffy pink frosting that topped the Red Velvet cake, or it can make you think you’re smelling your grandmother’s perfume mixed with the faint smell of a pipe.

What we have in life is our memories. What we have in life is the lasting thought of a perfect cake or a handwritten note taped to the window. What we have in life is each other and promise and hope and the possibility that new memories are always forming. What I have, is the recipe for the perfect Red Velvet cake, a cake that never lasted more than 30 minutes once I reached my dorm and my awaiting friends.¬†I don’t eat Red Velvet cake now — it’s just not the same. But I remember the taste… and those letters taped to my window.

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Day 3 of the 21.5.800 challenge. I’m not sure I should refer to it as a challenge — maybe just a community venture. Anyway, I was focusing on my breathing this morning during yoga — I did very well actually. I placed the cell phone just out of my reach and tuned out the noises of my house and began. At the end of my practice, I decided to do the savasana pose to really end on a calm note. For those of you who don’t yoga, savasana is also known as the corpse pose.

Pretty cool, huh? This pose is actually fairly hard for many people — including me. Because it requires you to still yourself, to still your breathing, to tune out the outward world, for a while anyway. I didn’t stay in savasana for very long — maybe a few minutes… but, it was long enough that I was taken away briefly from my house and transported back through time to the many summers I spent at my grandparents house…

As the youngest of four, I was always the token summer offering for my grandparents. This never bothered me actually (maybe a little around my sixteenth birthday but I’ll vent about that in a future post), I enjoyed being the center of attention. But, that’s not all the summers were about. I worked in the garden and helped can vegetables and helped cook and ran to the neighbors to borrow things and to bring them their mail. I ran down the hill to my great Aunt Dot’s house to spy on the neighbors through her window. I explored the fields around the house including the old well and I rode a mini-bike¬†with the cute grandsons of the next door neighbor. I caught lightning bugs at night and counted the bats as they flew around during the evening hours. I would sneak off to the bowling alley with my grandfather and watch him play cards and always promised not to tell my grandmother about the money being exchanged. My summers were filled.

My grandfather was the shopper in the house. Everyday my grandmother made him a list for the store — everyday. And everyday he and I went, to not one, but three different stores to collect each item. The trips to the store with my grandfather were always fun — for several reasons.

Each day we would load up boxes with some of the booty from the garden — potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, watermelon, strawberries — their garden was huge. My grandfather and I would take the stash to each store we visited and go straight to the produce man. We always held hands. His hands were huge and calloused and protective. The produce man would inspect each item and then the fun would start — the bartering. By the time we left the final store, we would only have a few items left in our box — in addition to the items from the list that my grandmother so carefully made each morning. The items that were left over had perhaps the greatest significance to me. My grandfather and I would take the remaining items and wait in the parking lot behind our final stop for the coke truck to drive up — always holding his protective hand. Then, the greatest bartering session would begin — the one that always garnered me a case of coca-cola… in glass bottles, ice-cold.

We would return to show-off all the things we had gathered during our morning bartering sessions to my grandmother — I think my grandfather and I were more impressed with our shopping skills then she was. Then we would sit outside in the scorching hot day and enjoy our cold coca-cola — with his arm around me, smiling and reliving our morning experience. We repeated this scene each day during the summers — it never got old. I was always willing to go with him to the store… even as I got older. Because, the end result of that cold coca-cola and his arm planted firmly around me in the swing was my reward…

My savasana came to an end. I could hear the commotion of kids downstairs — I opened my eyes and was back in my room. Only a few minutes had passed, but my memories of holding hands with Poppy are with me forever. So, I think the breathing worked today — I think I was able to find some inner calm.We’ll see if yoga is able to continue to seep into my daily activities — but right now, I’m going to find a hand to hold and a swing to sit in and maybe I’ll even enjoy a nice cold coca-cola.

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Free From TBB

It just dawned on me, walking my dog as I came up the sidewalk in front of my house and looked at the “for sale” sign perched so invitingly there in my front yard, that someone else lives in my house now. Not this house… the home I grew up in. My childhood home — the only house I ever lived in until I purchased my first house when I was around 27. The new couple has been there for almost two years now. I don’t know anything about them. I don’t know if they’re young or old. I don’t know if they’re still there.

I feel like I should send them a letter and let them know what they bought. A letter to tell them about all the memories in my house. I wonder if they know I used to sneak in and out of my bedroom window… we all did. It was a well-known fact among my friends that my window was the easiest way to gain access to my house — everyone knew it except my parents. I wonder if they know there is hard wood in the hallway under that carpet and I used to practice sock skating and played with my Evil Knievel wind-up motorcycle endlessly there. I wonder if they know that my parents used the big closet in their bedroom to hide (unsuccessfully) all the Christmas presents… each year… as if we never knew. Sometimes, I just wonder.

I wonder if they know about all the memories in the yard. I wonder if they know that we had those three perfectly placed trees for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base. I wonder if they know how all the neighborhood kids used to gather there and play until it was too dark to see anymore. I wonder if they know about that boat that my dad kept in the backyard — so long that a tree grew out of it. I wonder if they know how I planted that evergreen when I was in high school. I wonder if they know I used to make jelly with my grandmother out of those grapes growing on the back fence. Sometimes, I just wonder.

I wonder if they know about all the memories on the front steps. I wonder if they know my brother and his “band” used to set up there and entertain the neighborhood. I wonder if they know all the goodnight kisses I had on those steps. I wonder if they know how meticulously my father decorated the porch for every holiday — ever. I¬†wonder if they know how we used to jump off the end of the porch and clear those bushes in one bound while we were playing tag. I wonder if they know my father would stand on those steps and whistle so loudly that we could never get away with saying we didn’t hear. Sometimes, I just wonder.

Sometimes, I just wonder. I wonder do they know all about these things? I wonder what memories they’re making in my old house. I wonder who will buy my current house — I hope they have memories here. Good memories. New memories.

I used to think the house held all the memories. But it’s the people. We hold all the memories. I wonder what memories my children and I will make in our new home. Sometimes, I just wonder.

My bedroom was just to the right of the front door in this picture.

And I wanted to share my new favorite song by my new favorite group,¬†Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I think the words to this song are very powerful, they give me hope — not to mention the awesome singing… enjoy.

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Snow Day!

The snow day is one of the most sought after treasures the world can offer, really. And living in the south, they carry much more meaning. We get snow (or what we refer to as snow) maybe two or three times a year — always resulting in a day off from school. The anticipation is ridiculous — from the weatherman, the schools, the grocery stores. It’s all anyone can talk about when snow might be in the forecast.

My grandparents lived just outside of St. Louis, so I knew what a large snowfall looked like. I remember there being feet of snow falling overnight. I would literally wake up to a winter wonderland. The closest we’ve come to a major snow fall came about seven years ago. Snow had been predicted but hadn’t started falling before the schools got underway that morning — again, the anticipation was grueling. It started snowing at about ten — the schools immediately closed early. But, it was too late. It snowed seven inches in what seemed like twelve minutes.

The entire mid-state region came to a standstill. I was unable to leave school with my ¬†kids (just two at the time). Many students at the school where I taught were stuck, there, at school, with us – the buses couldn’t get to them, their parents couldn’t get to them — you would have thought Armageddon was real and resting in Nashville. It was oddly fun though, being stranded at school. We raided the cafeteria and made pizzas and hotdogs and everything else we could find to cook for dinner (yes, we really were stuck there with about 200 students and teachers). Once I finally did get home (a four hour drive that usually took eighteen minutes), we were snowed in¬†for about four days. (It just dawned on me that my youngest was born nine and a half months later in October — hmmm.)

But, back to this snow day. The anticipation of a snow event is really all we need for the schools to close down (thanks to the 2003 event) and so we knew fairly early in the day that school was going to be cancelled the next day in preparation.

The kids all went to bed after flushing ice cubes down the toilet with spoons under their pillows and with their pajamas inside out just to make sure the snow would come —¬†it didn’t, not really. But there was enough ice on the roads to call school off the next day as well. So they repeated the ritual and waited for the snow to come — it didn’t, not really. So we had to come up with alternate snow day plans.

The alternate plans involved a movie, an art project, a trip to the pet store to look at the fish, a trip to the bookstore that turned into a bout of pouting for a toy as opposed to a book (I have a hard time buying toys at the bookstore, but… happened anyway), and ended with a great dinner out. They also included my oldest daughter spending the day with friends, making her own memories. The ones she didn’t need her mom to plan for her — revelations hit us all the time.

Strangely enough, on our way home from dinner, it finally started to snow. So, once again we all went to bed with the anticipation of  snow when we awoke. This time, it was here.

I pieced together a little video of the events of the last three days, mainly because I hadn’t used the movie editing software that came with the computer and I wanted to try it out. I think you’ll agree that this result is a clear sign that I need more practice!

So, there it is, a snow day video that actually took place over three days while we waited for the treasure of the new fallen snow. There’s just something about snow that makes you feel unusually warm and cozy — or maybe, it’s the hot cocoa.

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Into The New

The night is winding down as Christmas day makes its way into our past events once again. It’s been a wonderful, emotional, sad, funny, anxiety ridden, laid back time — all at once. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve heard over the last couple of days.

Last night at the candle light service, my son was sitting next to me as we were given our candles to be used later in the night. Being an eleven year old boy, he immediately started pretending to burn his cousin who was sitting next to him. They had a wonderful game of pretend fire. Then, he turned to me and said, “Hey mom, do you remember how you were always scared that Nanny’s hair would catch on fire?”

I laughed and said, “Yeah, I remember”.

This morning, as the kids were opening their gifts, I handed my two older kids¬†laptops. I said to them that these were from us and their Nanny. My son, being ever so wise, looked at me and said, “But, Nanny’s, you know, dead.” I laughed and said, “Yes, but her money lives on.” He, without skipping a beat, said, “Will her money still be alive when it’s my birthday?”

This made me laugh, really hard. In that sometimes we’re not supposed to laugh at strange humor but we do anyway way.

Laughter is always there to pull us through.

I am leaving on vacation with my family in the morning. I have had a wonderful journey on this blog so far and am sure to have many more stories to tell — about getting healthy, about family, about friends, about vacations to Disney, about a special party in New York. ¬†Thanks for joining me so far… Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year.

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With Christmas only a week away at this point, I am often finding myself reminiscing about the Christmas’s of my past — really, I’ve been thinking about the presents.

I take motherly pride in attempting to grant my kids all their wishes at Christmas. Within reason, of course. Each child gets to ask Santa for three presents — Santa then chooses whether or not the present is a viable option (we like to keep things systematized at my house). But, they seem to be happy each year, so I guess Santa’s choices are ok.

I had some great Christmas gifts when I was a kid. There are a few though, that I really remember . When I was probably around four years old, I have a distinct memory of getting an umbrella for Christmas. It must have been the greatest umbrella in the world because I still remember it. I remember seeing it wrapped under the tree — and, I’m pretty sure the shape of it didn’t give it away to my four-year old self because it was the excitement at opening it as opposed to just seeing it that I remember the most. It was purple. There were polka dots.

When I was around nine, I got the most ridiculously cool race track. It came with three cars. My sister and her husband stayed up on Christmas Eve to assemble it for me (I learned this later in life). I played with that track so often that the metal clips holding it together wore out. My father, being an engineer, replaced the metal clips and attached the whole track to plywood. I was in college before I finally let my mother throw it out.

I also have distinct memories of the presents that weren’t under the tree. Two come to my memory immediately — an Atari and a moped. Oh, how I longed for that Atari. My best friend had one and we would play for hours. That little maze game was the best. The moped, well, I still haven’t let that go. My best friend and I were the only ones who did not have a moped. We had to watch all the other kids ride around the neighborhood and out to the lake — hoping someone would let us get on the back (there really wasn’t a back to moped’s when they first came out — it was more of a stand up on the pegs thing). I vow, every year, to buy myself a moped and ride it around the neighborhood.

I think it’s important to keep some things the same. The Christmas after my grandmother died, some fourteen years ago, we all still got gifts from her. And last year, my mother put her and my father’s name on all the gifts — and told my kids it was from their Poppy. I know what my mom would want me to do this year, she would want to have her name on some gifts. So, I think I will pick out some special ones and make them from her. Maybe the kids will remember those presents as they get older — maybe the memories won’t fade.

One of my father’s biggest fears was that his grandkids wouldn’t remember him — he was afraid they were too young to hold on to the memories. So maybe a gift from him for a few more years will keep his fear from being a reality — for now.

It’s strange how the memory of certain gifts stay with us… make the memory that much more real. Sometimes our memories are tied to the presents, and that’s ok. Especially if you are a kid, waking up on Christmas day.

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