“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.
Sure 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.
It’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.
I must admit, reading the part where he asked me if I wanted to “play house” was a little creepy. Back 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.
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!)
Call 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, like 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.