Almost 20 years ago my grandmother…Mema…came to visit me in Washington State. I was always excited to see her. “She is a light to my sometimes gray and dingy world.” While sitting at dinner one night she told me she was beginning to mark Items in her house to give members of the family when she passed away. I loved the idea of having my name on certain items…my little claim to those precious memories of my Mema. She asked me what items I would like and why. A smiled filled my heart as I reached into my memories of her house. “There are a few things I would love to have to remind me of you…I would love to have my “Mema’s Chairs”!”
Her expression covered a small range of emotion as I began to describe the chairs.
I would love to have the White chair that sits at the writing desk in the living room…I have a fond memory of you Mema…sitting at the desk taking care of your daily bills and your correspondence. You instilled in each of us the importance of writing a letter or short note to those who were important to us. You would lay your heart upon the page as you kept those dear to you current with the aspects of your life. “People need to know they are loved and a short note can brighten anyone’s day!”.
The Princess Chair that sits in your bedroom in front of the window. I remember watching you as you sat in that chair to put on your shoes. This was also the chair I sat in while you put on your make-up. I would sit there…with my ankles crossed like a little lady. I felt like such a grown up because it sat low to the ground and my feet could actually touch the ground. My grandmother had a puzzled look in her face…”Princess Chair?” “Yes ma’am…the little pinkish chair…that looks like a small throne.” “I always felt like a princess when I sat in that chair.”
She smiled and said she knew exactly which chair I was talking about.
There is another chair…well 2…they sit in the dinning room in front of the window. The extra captains chairs that you recently had recovered. (The one in the picture above!) They are so elegant and embody your grace and style. I would love to have them so I could have you with me at dinner time. Manners and conversation, each taught while sharing the simplest meal or full family dinner. Those memories should be passed down to my children and having these chairs would preserve your influences in my life daily.
A graceful chuckle escaped as she reached out to give me a hug. “Thank you for being able to share those wonderful memories with me…What a lovely explanation of why you wanted these items.”. She asked if there was anything else and I quickly shared with her about two sets of dishes and the biscuit tin and a glass set that sat on top of her refrigerator as we completed our meal. That was the last of that discussion and we never talked about this topic again.
My mother told me a couple of years later how much my explanation had meant to her. She had been surprised a bit by the items I had asked for. She related the stories and told my mother that she could see, after my explanation, why I must receive these particular items.
Within the past few years my Mema could no longer live in her wonderful home without assistance. Her health had become an issue and she was being moved to an assisted living complex. Needless to say…she needed to begin the division of her property. “I went over to help with the move!” My aunt and uncle, as well as my parents, told me to make sure I packed up the items I wanted and take them home with me. Sticky notes had been put on certain items by others in the family and anything not marked was far game. “What a lovely thought!…She was still sitting in her long time home and people were sweeping in and taking her belongings right in front of her.”
I went up to her bedroom, where she and my sisters were going through her clothes. She immediately motioned for me. “I want you to take that chair with you today…I will be taking the other chairs with me to the apartment.” Mema was pointing to the Princess Chair still sitting next to the window in her room. “I would not let anyone take it…it is for you!” We both fought back the tears. I did not like seeing her like this…
She told me of a few other items she had put aside for me as we went through her clothes. “I will share those items with you another time!”
Mema was not in her apartment for long due to her health growing increasingly worse. She has since been moved two other times. My presence was again called for and I drove from my home in Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama. It was at this time I was given the other chairs. The set from the dinning room were used in the apartment’s living room. One had been clawed and torn beyond repair by her always invisible cat. Finicky does not describe this well loved member of the family who remained hidden away from visitors. “He did not like large groups!” I retrieved the chair left unmarked by the cat and took it to my car…I went back in and began the sorting of items for storage and those being moved to her new home. In the corner of the small room which held her desk was sitting the White Chair covered in books and photos needing to be boxed. My aunt walked into the room as I was running my hand along the back of the chair…
Long story short…these 3 chairs are all in my home now. The Captain’s Chair, with the elegant blue and white pattern, sits in the corner of my living room giving me the feeling that Mema is with me. The White Chair sits next to my desk in my office/sitting room and has inspired me in my writings on many occasions. The little pink pillow was in the chair when I picked it up and still accents the bright white chair. The Princess Chair came home with me that first visit and is in my bedroom…by the window sitting next to a slender chest she wanted me to have. My Mema has touched my heart and now fills my home with loving memories. It gives a comfortable, at home, feeling to extended family when they visit my home. To have these pieces brings a familiar tug to the heart and anyone who loves my Mema are drawn to “Mema’s Chairs!”
Do you have things that belonged to your parents or grandparents that have been passed down? Do they hold a special place in your heart and home? “They do in mine…I love my Mema and I hold on to those memories everyday when I see “Mema’s Chairs”!“. Have a great day!
Some of the dearest memories, I have from school, are the shelves of books that lined the wall of the classroom under the windows. There were collections of biographies and a large collection of the Classics. You know the ones… Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth…the list could go on! Now days the typical classroom does not have this large reading treasure trove instead they have Diary of a Wimpy Kid and every book written about a mouse and his motorcycle. What About the Classics?
This has been a burning question recently. My youngest continues to ask me if I have read certain books. I love to read and he knows this…but the titles are books that have been written in the past 10-12 years and well…I don’t read baby books! I have tried to explain to him the fact that these books were not written when I was little. When I was his age I was reading The Classics! I start telling him about the wonderful and exciting adventures I had while reading them and the dreams that came from these great books. I told him…Journey to the Center of the Earth is one of my favorites and the dreams I had…”Oh, I saw that movie! You got to watch DVDs in school?”.
After he got over the shock that we did not have DVDs when I was in school I told him these books were written before there was television. Then he tore into a discussion about no television.
My question is: If these children are not encouraged to read these great masterpieces then how will they find their adventurous spirit? How will they find the passion to question the extraordinary and use their imaginations? What About the Classics?
The relationships formed and alliances made between characters as they were forced to make life and death decisions gave us hope. Hope that if they could find a way in a tough situation we could find a way. The times I escaped to Oz with all it colorful creatures and fantastic scenery…the unique plant life in the middle Earth that stood high above the characters…wonderful memories that filled my childhood.
How big can your imagination grow in a book with 50 pages…where the only dilemma is limited to one day at school! Our children have lost the desire to explore and fight giant octopi or build a raft and sail the Mississippi, or find the buried treasure while fighting pirates? Do they realize the joys they have missed not learning to fly with Peter Pan?
Before I could read these fantastic works of art my mother introduced a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson to me when I had the chicken pox. It was called “The Land of Counterpane“
When I was sick and lay a-bed
I had two pillows at my head
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of Counterpane.
What child could not dream with a poem like this as a foundation. I read it to my older boys and the battles the army men would have with the Teenage Mutant Turtles was truly Epic! The reading assignments given to our children today are not using these treasures. Very few of the assignments call for biographical reading. How do we learn about the great men and women who shaped our world? There is no way to understand where we came from if they don’t read about these great people and their lives.
I will just keep trying to introduce my youngest to this world from home…I can’t wait for him to have an adventure while reading one of these Classics!
As for me…I will step off my Soap Box…sip on my coffee and fall back into Victorian England. Time for some Jane Austen! What? Don’t you like to dream? Have a great day…and enjoy that lovely cup of coffee!
I woke up this morning to hear it…the rain clicking up against the window and the soft rush of water in the gutters told me everything I needed to know. Puddles! A good rain was needed after I pulled weeds from the colorless gray grass in our yard yesterday. The bright green weeds stood out drawing attention to themselves. Glad I pulled most of them when I did! The uneven and aging planks of wood stretch across the deck. The falling drops ripple in the small forming puddles.
All I can think about is the wet paw prints that will track from my back door across the white carpet and into the kitchen. My Puddle Memories!
My precious dog hates the rain…she tiptoes through the rain soaked surface. “It is really a funny sight to see.” The cleaning spray and cloth will be set by the back door today ready to apply to the wet paw prints. “Those cute little paw prints have Georgia Red Clay mixed with water.” Georgia Red Clay and white carpets…”What were the original owners of the house thinking?”
I love the rain! “When I can stay indoors…under a blanket…with a good book or movie…”
Today’s daily chore list has grown like those pesky weeds in the yard. I will have to venture out today, in the rain, for a little while. I need to buy a couple of ingredients for dinner, pay a bill, and get a haircut. “Quit shaking your head…you must realize that I had wanted to go walking today.” Hopefully the system will clear by lunch-time and I can squeeze in 2-3 miles!
I will change the sheets on the bed and start the laundry routine then I will load the dishwasher. Once all of this is accomplished I will watch the movie I got from the “Redbox” so I can return it today. I received a free rental code that was only for yesterday and I was busy yesterday and unable to watch the movie. I will gather the list for the grocery store and the bill before heading out for my haircut. I will have to choose my shoes well today…My Puddle Memories!
As children we lived for the opportunity to stomp and splash in every available puddle! With or without the appropriate rain gear. I can remember performing my own version of the song “Singing in the Rain” complete with twirling umbrella and stomping through the rushing water along the curb. I would arrive home, soaked to the bone, and see my mother shaking her head with a towel in hand. She knew and was always prepared! As an adult with children of my own…I experience the same puddle jumping through them. My youngest loves to stand, with his mouth open, facing up to the falling rain. “He doesn’t seem to mind the change in his appearance as he hops onto the school bus.”
We change our routines in subtle ways when it rains. We drive differently, leave a little earlier and know the traffic will resemble a long string of pearls with flashing brake lights. The vehicles in front of you will show you the deeper puddles you may be able to avoid. “No need to attempt the hydroplane maneuvers today!” We dress differently trying to stay clean and presentable in our work place and hope our hair doesn’t frizz. We try to keep the bottom of our shoes dry so we won’t slip and fall…”That would hurt..more than our pride!” The child in us may long to splash about but the grown-up doesn’t have time. Do we?
Maybe we should make time to splash…watching the rippled waves through the puddle formed by the sudden pat of our foot. Who would get hurt? The simple joys we experienced as children have long been replaced by responsibility. Time does not allow frivolous childlike behavior as it dictates our schedules. We rush around like ants on a mission…always working! We may catch ourselves gazing out the window…watching the falling droplets as they splash against the earth. The water rolls down the window and meets with another creating a new path down along the flat surface.
In the distance your phone may ring or computer may signal your reality call and your day continues.
The rain has reached a calm now. The slight sprinkling with occasional reflections in the puddles. My sleeping princess has curled up in the chair with me and is snoring peacefully. The large coffee cup sitting on the table next to me is empty and in need of a refill. My daily chores are once again in the forefront as the reminder chimes escape from my phone. I don’t have much time this morning…gotta pick up the pace. Places to go and people to see! “You know, I really think that saying should have something about coffee to drink!”
The next time it rains try and take time to splash a little….watch the rain for just a few moments…take a moment to remember your Puddle Memories! “I did!”
What memories do have about the rain? Did you love to splash or look up at the sky?
“Really Mom!” “Not in front of the other kids!” “Just drop me here!” We have heard these statements before. They rise up from the depths of fear and hit us smack between the eyes. Our sweet little angels no longer need the last-minute love and advice from Mom and Dad. But….Now that they are older….We can retaliate and do what we do best. Embarrass the heck out of them just for fun!
The wonderful opportunity to totally humiliate them, in a loving way of course, and remind them the “We brought them into this world and We can take them out!” I don’t know how many times I heard that while I was living with my parents. The stories and tales of a child’s actions and decisions will hold many in their seat. The pictures are laid out and strewn to provide the viewer optimal visibility. “This is when the Goat licked him right in his face!….and this is when he got stuck in the rails of the stairway!…He wanted to help me cook and dropped the flour container.” Let’s not forget the girlfriend pictures on the phone. We show everyone….and then we see their pictures. It is a parent’s right to pursue this natural, God-given, form of bragging. After all, we are bragging on them…even if they don’t see it that way.
We sing them the songs they loved to sing, as a child, and they fuss and beg you to stop. “I’ll go up stairs”, “I’m outta here!” are familiar phrases spoken by the almost men in my house. What they don’t realize is the joy we, as parents, receive from seeing the sparkle of light in their eyes as they flash on the memory. “They need to be reminded as much as we do!” We stir the embers of memories and find that they still hold stories of their own. They share what they remember and we add what they have forgotten. “I can remember what I did as a small child because of similar “Memory Sessions” with my parents.” There is nothing wrong with this…They will enjoy “Reliving their Childhood” too as they begin making their own memories.
Grandparents cling to their children’s memories and to the new ones being made with their grandchildren. My dad calls the stories of my sons “isms”. They are specific and funny. My second son recently returned from a 2 week visit with my parents. He recalled a fact trying to show me he knew something I did not know. “Did you know that the uncle, I am named for, used to live in Piper, Alabama?” “Yes I did, I wrote a paper about that very topic in High School.” “I received and A and my teacher quoted me as a source for her Master’s Thesis.” Mom 2 points…son 1. I talked with him about Piper and filled in the gaps in this part of his history.
Parents start out reading Dr. Seuss and end telling the family history to the next generation. Historians and Bards of sorts! This is not a new twist to parenthood. This is just the way it is! Parents have been doing this very task to preserve the family name and history. The stories are passed down through the generations, sometimes as fishing tales, changing to capture the hook in a child’s mind. “Did I tell you about when?…”Do you remember the story about?”…and my favorite “When I was your age!”
“Relive their Childhood..It Can be Fun!” Maybe we do it out of necessity…not wanting to forget how much they needed us. The tender little bundle of joy, gazing up at us with love and happiness, is almost grown and no longer shows absolute love in a simple expression. “Boy, do I miss that little face!” But there is a spark of love in their look of fear when the pictures come out. The beaming spirit reveals itself in quick disputes….”No mom..not the baby pictures!” They are proud, on the inside, when we bring the monuments to their childhood out and parade them proudly to those in the room. These are people who are important to them and they need to know exactly what they are getting in to being associated with our sons. “Did that sound sarcastic?”
We, as parents, do enjoy “Reliving their Childhood“. We need to make all the sentimental connections we can…because we LOVE them and need to remind them in ways other that verbal. But no one said we could not have FUN while we do it! So..pull out the baby pictures and the stories…make some snackies for them…and “Relive their Childhood..It Can be Fun!”
There is was right there in front of me…taunting me with desire. I pressed the button and….this has been added to items to record.
Oops! I did it again!
I had recorded a movie that I already own but who cares…it was Mama Mia! So this morning, after my youngest left for school, I settled in with all the needed supplies. My coffee, of course, was by my side and the remote in hand. Power on and list displayed…there you are. PLAY! I sat back with memories flooding my mind of the last time I watched this movie. Do you remember? I know you do! We were so excited to be together for the weekend and this movie was the icing on the cake. We sang along, as if we were part of the cast, every lyric and rhyme. We even danced, hopping and spinning in my living room. My youngest son was in the room with us and was unprepared for this experience. What were we to do? Sit there quietly and tap a foot!! “Nope” That would have been impossible for us…I don’t know of anyone who could sit still during this movie.
So…with the movie starting…I anticipated the first song. I have seen this movie many times and am drawn into it every time. I confess! I want to be on a Greek Island living in a villa. I would like to see a group of men dancing and Cabana boys singing. The sun shining down on the beautiful beaches….Reality sinks in and I remember where I am. At least the mother and daughter have conflicts and there are money issues. The villa is in need of repair and everything is falling apart…Now this sounds like my house! I can face most anything…just hand me the roll of Duct Tape and I am ready. I am the mother of four boys and have been married for 25+ years. Needless to say this type of movie is not viewed by the family. It is my alone time…time just for me…my Spa time! “It is a good thing I like a wide variety of movies and actors. I would not get to spend time with my family if I didn’t”
The movie ends and I have turned off the TV. It is almost time to wake up the rest of the house. One son is job hunting today and my husband is off. I will have to make this quick. I do miss our time together and the next time we see each other you can bet this movie will be part of the schedule. Till that day comes; I will treasure the memories I have and gracefully open my beautiful wrap, from around my shoulders, and dance into the kitchen to make coffee. Oh wait, I better not do that…I might knock something over or hurt myself. ” I don’t want that to happen again!” But that was not me…was it?
Have a great day!