Tag Archives: memory

She’s Moved On And So Should You

Her crossed arms answered her question before she spoke.

She didn’t have to speak. The look on her face. The trademark crossed arms. Her favored one hip stance. All did the speaking for her.

Disappointment.

“It’s just been such a long week. And I really want to get to the airport,” I tried to explain. Twisting in my chair.

“But what about dinner? You have to eat, ” my grandmother said.

Leaning forward, I tried to justify my actions. “But Anna is so exhausted. I am, too. I’m so sorry. I know we promised but I want to avoid the traffic. We’ll pick up something quick on the way.”

Silence.

“Do you think you’ll be back for Thanksgiving?” she asked, eyebrows raised. Hopeful.

“I’m not sure,” I said, letting my voice trail off. I knew I wouldn’t. Maybe Christmas. Maybe next spring. But I was tired of the 1200 mile journeys. I wanted a break.

“It’s OK,” my sister chimed in, “I’ll bring the kids by next week and we can have lunch.” Trying to come to my rescue. It’s little consolation. I’m the one who lives so far away.

Then we said our goodbyes. And watched her on the driveway with her arms crossed. Not smiling, yet trying not to look disappointed.

Twelve years later the image haunts me.

“You have to stop beating yourself up over this,” my sister says to me over the phone.

I shift uncomfortably. I close my eyes. “I know. But I can’t.”

“There was no way you could know she was going to die. No one knew. She was always so vibrant. Even the doctor didn’t see it coming.”

“But I should have at least had dinner with her like we promised,” my eyes watering remembering my last broken promise to her. “I never even called her. That was the last time we spoke.”

“She’s moved on and so should you.” My sister is tired of this conversation. So am I. But that image of her still haunts me. That last image.

“Do you really think she’s forgiven me?” I ask, standing up now, watching a cardinal on our birdfeeder.

“Yes. She forgave you moments after you left,” my sister sighs into the phone.

“Ok. Thanks.” Not convinced, I hang up the receiver. And walk to the window to watch the birds flit back and forth. Leaning on one hip. Brow furrowed.

And arms crossed.

(This post was inspired by KitchWitch’s post which was inspired by the writing prompt at Write On Edge. Please visit Write on Edge   for more inspired writing!)

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, family, Lessons Learned

To You, Dear Readers. Thanks For Helping Me Deal.

Your outpouring of support for my last post (The Life And Times of Six-Year-Old Jane) has touched me so. Especially when I’ve been such a horrible reciprocating blogger of late. I’m going through some (not serious) health issues that have me pre-occupied. All is well. I will be ok. Just extra distracted, scattered and annoyed with the struggles.

I’m great at putting emotions or moments I’d rather forget in a drawer and never thinking about them again. Or, brushing things aside and saying, “I’ll get to that later.” When my husband and I have had an argument and much later he says, “Remember when we disagreed about….” I can actually feel the memory of that uncomfortable moment start to show his (because bad memories are always male, right?) ugly head. I’ll stop my husband in mid-sentence and say, “No! I don’t want to remember. Let’s just move on.” Yes, I’m the one with her fingers in her ears singing “La, la, la, la,la,  la!”  

But I’m learning that you can’t truly move on unless you’ve dealt with it head on.

When Dawn and Tori inspired me to write a post, tongue-in-cheek, about a 6-year-old memoir, I thought, “Ooooo. This will be fun.”

It wasn’t.

It reminded me of things I had stuffed.  Things I hadn’t dealt with. Things I’d rather forget. And I chose not to write about the heavy, heavy stuff. Too painful.

I cried a bit, writing what little I wrote. I miss that little girl. She was cute and always smiling. She loved music and listening to baseball games on her stuffed Tiger with the transistor radio tucked inside.(Remember those?) And she just wanted hugs, approval and love.

Don’t get me wrong. My parents did the best they could with what parenting talents God gave them. And I have many happy memories. But most of those happy memories don’t involve my parents. I think that’s why I am so hell-bent on creating happy memories with my own children.

I have a soft-spot for children who are ignored or forgotten. I suppose we all do. But I have always gravitated toward charities, causes, and professions that could help those children. When I dabbled in foster care and had those two beautiful girls in my home it was the most rewarding and emotionally draining year of my life. I’ve thought about becoming a child advocate volunteer many times. But I always stop short, knowing that I may have to open a cupboard or two and deal with a few of my own demons.

And at for-sen-sumpin years old, I’m still not ready.

Baby steps.

Tiny baby steps.

Thanks for pushing me along.

 

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Filed under Observations, Ponderings

The Life And Times Of Six-Year-Old Jane

Hi. I’m Jane. And I’m a big girl, now.

I’m six. And my life has been so very, very full.

My earliest memory is sitting on the basement steps, eating this pretty blue stuff. (Drano) I was about 18 months old. It didn’t taste very good but it sure looked sparkly. The next thing I know my mom’s nails were jabbing into my armpits. It really hurt. But my mouth and eyes were stinging, too. Then water was rushing all over my face. My mom put me in the tub with all my clothes on. I can’t believe she let me get all wet and messy like that. Time for a new outfit! I love changing clothes.

I like reading with my mom and my sisters. I have 3. Two are twins and they’re three years old now. When they were babies I would help my mom feed them a bottle while my other sister held the book so mom could read to us. My dad snapped a picture with mom and I each feeding a baby and my sister on the floor, holding the book. I like that picture.

I have more things I remember that I don’t want to talk about. My parents were very stressed, having 4 kids in the span of 3 years. They did the best they could but it didn’t feel like it at the time. Tired. Angry. Mean. My sister got pulled by her hair a lot. I’m glad my hair is short. Some cruel punishments that shouldn’t be mentioned. I tried really hard to be good, to hide the evidence if we messed up. To clean up.

Sometimes it worked. Other times?

I don’t like to remember those times.

I loved my plaid skirt, my Baby Boo, my red bicycle. I love visiting my grandparents. Everyone is happy there. No one fights. And my grandmother doesn’t let us get hit.

I remember the moment I learned to tie my shoes. I was waiting for my mom to finish changing the twins and I was tired of waiting. I played around with the laces and suddenly I realized they were tied. I was so excited. I jumped up and told my mom. She brushed past me and muttered, “Well, it’s about time.” I didn’t care. I did it all by myself. I will never forget that moment.

I play with my sisters and we have lots of fun together. We play pretend mostly. My sister closest to my age is so funny. She makes me laugh all the time. We protect each other. We giggle long into the night, that is, until my dad comes in and tells us to be quiet. She’s my best friend.

There was that time that I had to go to the hospital because I OD’d on baby aspirin. My mom and the twins were napping. My sister and I were bored. So, we played tea party. We wanted real food but we weren’t supposed to leave our bedroom. But there was a bottle of pink pills on top of the dresser. And they tasted like orange candy. We pretended they were tiny cookies. I ate most of them. I guess that’s why I had to get my stomach pumped. It hurt. A lot. But the nurses were so nice to me. They didn’t yell at me because I made a mistake. I wanted to go home with the one with the curly hair.

I remember the day that all my friends got to go to kindergarten and not me. I wanted to go to school so badly but I wasn’t old enough yet. But now, I’m in school and I love it. It’s a lot better than staying at home.

So that’s me. Jane. Six years old. In school and loving it.

As long as I can go to school every day, I think I’ll be ok.

If you had a six-year-old memoir, how would yours read? Feel free to share here, in the comments section, or on your own blog.

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Filed under children, Growing Up

Selective Memory – Crazy or Coping Mechanism?

I have selective memory. It drives my husband crazy. It drives me crazy sometimes.

For example…

This past Mother’s Day was wonderful. One of the best ever. And my husband was an absolute angel, treated me like a queen. When my sister asked me how my Mother’s Day was, I told her it was fantastic.

I asked her how her’s was. Less than fantastic. In fact, it was horrible and it all started on Saturday night when her husband….

Oops. Wait. I remember now. Mine wasn’t so hot. Well, it was, but it didn’t start out that way.

(Let’s play a little Mad Libs, shall we?)

You see, on Saturday, my husband decided to (insert activity) even though I asked him not to. It was something he does (time reference) and I usually have no problem with it. In fact, I never have a problem with it. But it was Mother’s Day weekend and it was sure to (verb) with Sunday. He did it anyway. So at (insert time of day) when he decided to (insert activity) and it (past tense verb) me, I was more than ticked. Mother’s Day started off with a (adjective.)

But the rest of the day was great. Fantastic. Magical, even.

My Pollyanna brain chooses to focus on the magical and forget the awful 24 hours preceeding Mother’s Day. Simple as that. It keeps me sane.

But there is something about my selective memory that really bother me. It eats away at me. It’s a nagging thorn in my parenting manual. What about my childhood memories of my mother?

I try. I really, really try, to remember the positive. You’d think, with my Pollyanna approach, the positive would be all I’d remember. But I can’t. I have fuzzy images of her smiling or laughing – but it either feels forced or it’s in a large group and she’s putting on her show.

There are pictures of her reading to us. But the only memory I have of her reading to me involves us cuddled together on an oversized chair while she lets me have sips of her White Russian (at age 5).

By the time I was a teenager I had learned the art of manipulation. My mother is a shopper. And when you’re in her good graces, she buys you stuff. Lots of stuff. And my parents had the money to buy us lots and lots of stuff. I remember a few shopping trips with me finagling some pretty pricey items (leather jacket, designer jeans, cashmere sweater, jewelry) because I was “Golden Girl” for that week. I was happy in that moment. But the little black cloud of being indebted to her makes that happiness fleeting.

I try. I rack my brain, picturing kindergarten, 2nd grade, 5th grade, 9th grade. Nothing. She is absent from any real memories. I can see my dad. My grandparents. I see my cousins, aunts. No mom. And if I do see her she has her arms folded over her chest and she’s glaring.

What childhood memories do I have?

Testing the waters each day to gauge the mood she was in and wondering if this was the day I could ask her about: going to a friend’s party, staying after school for a project, going to the mall or a movie.

Making vodka tonics for her when she got home from work, waiting anxiously for the bad mood to pass and her “couldn’t care less” attitude to take hold.

Keeping my three younger sisters quiet because she was studying or she was sleeping or she was sick.

My mother pulling my sister by the hair to get her to do something.

Laughing when we flinched if she made a sudden move, thinking we were about to be slapped.

The way she would barge into our room with such force, without knocking or calling out, and how we’d jump three feet into the air, hearts pounding.

Fists through the wall. Broken glass. Slamming doors.

Yelling. Lots of yelling.

Silence. Tip-toeing. Daring not to disturb the sleeping giant.

Because I have so few happy memories with my own mother I am panicked that I’m not creating them with my own children. I quiz my daughter, acting as if it’s a light-hearted exercise, “What’s your favorite memory of you and I when you were in grade school?” or “What’s a favorite vacation we took when you were little?”

The exercise is two-fold. I’m trying to reassure myself that I AM doing a good job. That I’m not repeating my mother’s mistakes. But I’m also trying to ingrain these positive memories, praying that she doesn’t forget the good times.

This is a part of me I’m not proud of. This insecurity I carry is unattractive and stifling. But I can’t seem to let it go. It keeps me focused. It keeps me from repeating negative behaviors.

And I desperately pray, it keeps the good childhood memories flowing for my precious angels.

(This post is part of the Five For Ten project at Momalom. Please visit their site for more wonderful posts on Memory. Or click the button below to find out how YOU can participate!)

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Filed under children, Growing Up, Moms, Motherhood, parenting

Hey, That Reminds Me!

I read so many of your posts out there and you’ll stir a memory or remind me of something else I’ve heard. It happens so often I’m thinking of starting a meme (If it hasn’t been done already! Jeez, it seems every time I come up with a great idea it’s already been thought of. And if you’re here to take my great idea remember, you heard it here first and I’ve got proof – note the time and date stamp of this post!) but I’m too technologically-challenged to create a button for you to “grab.” But I digress…

Julia, over at Brainella the Librarian, reminded me of a wonderful game my dad and I used to play with one another – in my teens and early twenties. It stopped because it made my mother jealous but that’s for another post. And before your dirty, Freudian minds get away from you let me explain….

My dad traveled a lot for work. During lay-overs or at tacky diners, he’s browse the gift shops. He bring home the tackiest gift he could find. An Elvis souvenir comb from Memphis. An ashtray (I didn’t smoke) with Jimmy Carter’s face in the bottom (I’m not kidding about this one. I wish I could find it to show you!). The “All I Got Was This T-Shirt” t-shirt. Refrigerator magnets. Hats. Pens that glowed in the dark. Silly mugs and other beverage containers. Sunglasses. You get the picture. We had so much fun trying to top each other with our gifts.

It was a wonderful way to connect. To be thinking of each other when we didn’t see each other so much anymore. When I was in high school I spent the summer in Germany. I remember I brought my dad home a teeny, tiny beer stein – it couldn’t hold more than 2 sips. In my twenties, I went to Paris. I found a pair of toenail trimmers with the Eifel Tower on it. I scooped it up. Later in the trip, one of my fellow travellers got a hangnail. She had to use the nail clippers. So, my dad received an even tackier gift that year – it was a pair of used nail trimmers with the Eifel Tower emblazoned on it.

It’s a great memory for me from a comfortable time in my relationship with my father. It’s one that I want to carry on with my children when I begin to travel away from them, when they’re at an age to understand the silliness and fun. Just another way to add fun to an adventure!

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Filed under That Reminds Me!

Mmmm, Mmmm Memory: Chocolate No Bake Cookies

Feminists don’t cook. At least, that’s what I was taught. As a child, I viewed cooking as dreaded “woman’s work,” something that HAD to be done and the only fools that enjoyed it were the retro, weak females without a brain. Ok, so that’s a little strong but I was taking cues from my mother.

Then I took Home Economics at school. We had an awesome home ec room with about 10 mini-kitchen stations.

Home_Ec_Room_madisonville_high_scho

No, it didn’t really look like that. I’m not THAT old. Just a cool picture from 1939.

This is closer to what it looked like:

home ec room

Each station had it’s own stove/oven, sink, cabinets, chopping block, etc. Because the rest of the world was catching up to my mother’s view, home ec was on its way out of the curriculum. There were only about 10 of us in the class. So we each got our own mini kitchen. And after our first cooking lesson – Chocolate No Bake Cookies – I was hooked! Secretly, very secretly, I was in HEAVEN!

I found this on Photobucket:

nobake recipe

This is exactly the recipe I use.

This is what they’ll look like once you make them:

nobake cookies

Oh, and you’re going to need this, too:

glass-milk

Yum!

(The inspiration for this post comes from Country-Fried Mama at http://countryfriedmama.com/ . Please visit. And tell her Jane sent you!)

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Filed under Recipe