Memories – So Far Away; So Very Clear

“Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume.” ~ Jean de Boufflers

While contemplating writing a memoir, I recently began rummaging through boxes full of old memorabilia I almost forgot I had.  Ask anyone who really knows me; I despise paper and if it isn’t needed for tax purposes, personal documentation or other legal matter, more often than not it gets tossed.  So when I happened across clippings, letters and other such papers meticulously stored in several small cardboard boxes, I knew they must be something I deemed worthwhile keeping.

 Steve 19650002Sure enough, opening one of the boxes, I discovered a small collection of faded colored photographs that appear to have been taken in the mid 1960’s.  Instantly, I was transported back in time to my childhood living room.  There was that big old television – with its folding doors which protected me from Mighty Mouse as he burst onto the screen at the opening of each episode.  And there was my brother, mid-afternoon, still in his bathrobe, clowning with my uncle and neighborhood friends.  It’s amazing how many wonderful memories can emanate from one old photograph.

 SJD Ltr1 11_65It’s a shame some of the photos and letters I found in the box were so faded.  Luckily several letters were fairly legible and the photos still had some color to them.  I especially enjoyed reading the letters my middle brother Stephen wrote me while he was away at college.  Twelve years my senior, his writing conveyed levity, tenderness and love.SJD Ltr2 11_65

 

I must admit, reading the part where he asked me if I wanted to “play house” was a little creepy.  SJD Ltr3 11_65Back in those days however, little girls loved to “play house.”  There was nothing wrong with my brother wanting me to visit and help him straighten up his apartment; I was good at cooking, cleaning and ironing even at the tender age of 8.  Other notations regarding schoolwork, music, friends, pets, and especially about my father were heartwarming.  (Curious why he mentioned “witch” in both letters…I was always an “angel!”)

 The last few years have been challenging for my brother.  He faced a series of unexpected and unpleasant situations.  I pray my brother continues to heal and hope revisiting these letters brings a smile to his face.  We may live many miles apart, but he, along with my other brothers and sisters, are always close to my heart. 

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Discovering these priceless memories help me realize how truly blessed I am.  These are feelings I didn’t recognize as a child.  Today, everything is quick – a text here, a tweet or status update there.  How many people actually take the time to sit down and write a letter?  Not many.  Life is so fast-paced that we often don’t realize how much we are missing.  A simple note or letter is able to bring so much joy to another person, joy that brief electronic communication fails to convey.

 I never did finish the letter to my brother; I wonder what I would have said next…but it would have ended with “Love, your sister Marybeth”  (that’s now my alias!)

SJD Ltr2 10_66Call me old-fashioned or traditional, I don’t mind.  Sometimes I feel I can’t live without all the new technology and make certain I’m current with it, as best I can be.  At other times, I’d rather do things the way I used to, MED 10_66 replylike making bread from scratch rather than using a bread machine (if I had one).  Several minutes of vigorous kneading works wonders for a person’s sanity.  The treasured little box I found brought me back to basics.  I can’t wait to see what other wonderful memories are yet to be revived.

Steve_Mom weddingSteve Hawaii2 2006

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Faulkner

You never know what you’ll find when you dig through drawers you haven’t searched in a long time.  Today, I relocated my diary…from 1969.  Talk about a time warp!   Was I really that obedient, naïve and typically pubescent back in the day?  How refreshing to remember…all hope is not lost!

Although I didn’t write in it daily, some of the postings brought me back to a time when life was much simpler…or so I thought.  The first entry was on New Years Eve, January 1, 1969.  I recall being with my two cousins and my brother while our parents were out reveling.  How many people actually have a mini-description of that date?

I’ve noticed through my diary, how often I wrote about doing the dishes, peeling potatoes, vacuuming, watching TV, playing piano, doing a crossword, playing or even being tired.  I also noticed on days we were at my brother/sister-in-laws, or sister/brother-in-laws, we came home very late (or early morning…5 am?)

Another thing that amuses me is my handwriting which was so very sloppy compared to that of high school.  Some later spelling entries are almost unforgivable!  I received an “A” in both Penmanship and Spelling in grammar school but the writings in this diary are atrocious! Guess there’s no pardon by an aging perfectionist!

Oh, yes.  January 16 I was an innocent young girl having a dream about “Owen.”  I vaguely remember a boy with that name…hmmm.

Okay, I was in 7th grade when I penned these entries; still very young.  As a matter of fact, TOO YOUNG, but then again, in today’s society, my dreams and fantasies are realities to some children nowadays…how sad. 

Childhood seems to be waning: adulthood seems to begin at 12, with the ignorance of an infant.

 Even back then, I was concerned about my report card.  A 75 would never do.  I’m sure the teacher made a mistake and the correct grade was  85.3. 

 It’s sad that today, it’s acceptable not to strongly encourage children to study hard and do better in school…it seems everyone gets an award for “trying.”  But how hard do children really try?  Distractions such as TV, Xbox, Wii, Internet, etc., are everywhere.  How often do children pick up a book on their own just to “read?”  Seems to be a foreign concept unless you own a Kindle.  Then again, Smartphones take priority. 

I remembered the “Blizzard of ’69” after reading my diary.  School was closed for two weeks.  I’m sure that made my parents very happy.  However, since we were still amused and occupied with recently acquired Christmas presents, snow days weren’t qute as bad as they could have been.

Notice the note on February 11 as “Diane’s Birthday.”  Diane was then and still is my BFF.  We remember and celebrate each other’s birthdays every year, to this day.  How wonderful is that!

March 7 was actually one of several clippings I pasted from the TV news about a “great” movie; this one was the 1961 “All Hands on Deck” I saw featuring Pat Boone and Barbara Eden.  It seems we were always over my sister Kathy’s house.  NOW I REMEMBER WHY…My sister was the first to have children in our family; I used to babysit for them ALL THE TIME, lovingly I might add, while my sister, brother-in-law and parents used to play cards!  Damn, I never even got paid! LOL

 Oh, this one was a gem.  Visiting my brother and sister-in-law’s house and writing about the “celebrities” I liked very much (at such a tender age)…  Bobby Sherman, Robert Wagner, James Conrad, David Hedison, Dom DeLouise.  My favorite female was Carol Burnett!   I still love Carol!

I eliminated a few more personal entries that only “girls” should discuss…but yeah, they were recorded in my diary and are beautiful to remember.  Could you imagine what I’d be writing online if the internet were available back then?

Just think…this was the stuff I used to think was important enough for me to write about back then.  Today, it’s finances, food costs, gas prices, mortgages, healthcare, taxes, exercise, tuition…and more. 

Oh, how I sometimes long for the younger, softer, innocent years of my youth! 

“Keep a diary, and someday it’ll keep you.” ~ Mae West