Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ponderings from a box of memories

This is the site I see as I walk to the end of my lane for my newspaper or mail each day on the "County Road". The photo was taken about a month ago, now there are no leaves on bushes or trees. Instead, when I walked out earlier this week just as the sun was rising, I saw a huge moon appearing to hang just over the old barn. The sky appeared to consist only of vibrant pastel colors in the background with the starkness of the tree branches in the foreground of a painting. It was absolutely breathtaking. It was also hard for me to believe I have been walking this path for nearly a year now, having moved in just after Christmas last year.

Several things happened this week to remind me how quickly time passes, besides realizing we have been here nearly a year. Today (December 7th) was my mother's birthday. I remember the days long ago when we would tease her about causing Pearl Harbor Day (was it something she said?). She took it good natured, remembering what WWII was like for her young family. My sister remembers that time, she was born when my mother was a teenager. I came along a couple years after my mother (then a widow with seven children, the youngest all teenagers) married my father in her 40s. I have found myself thinking of my mother often today. What it must have been like to be a young mother when the entire world was at war.

The other significant event that showed me the passing of time came Monday evening. Although I was feeling quite dreadful, I wanted to get something crossed off my "project" list, especially the biggy which is going through the remaining boxes in our garage so we can (finally) put our car in there. I walked out to the stack of boxes and picked up the cardboard box which contained special memories of my mother-in-law. I sat on the family room carpeting (in front of the TV) vaguely seeing what program was playing as I sorted through greeting cards, Christmas letters, newspaper articles, receipts, postcards, etc.

It is interesting to see what a woman who passed away (in a car accident) at the age of eighty-five kept as her special memories. I had already gone through her scrapbooks put together before her marriage in her 30s. They were passed on to another relative years ago. For the most part, these special papers were all after her marriage. There were a few I wondered why she kept, one being a utility bill of her father's in the 1950s. Another being a typed out invitation to a women's function in the 50s. I don't know what was special about this particular event that she would keep the typed postcard.

Most, however, were obvious...birthday, anniversary and Mother's Day cards from her husband and children. Christmas cards and letters from her dear friends. A couple greeting cards from her mother, sisters and one from her father. A delightful thank you note in a niece's childish handwriting. That niece having passed away in her 60s of cancer a few years ago.

Those which made me realize the passing of time the our later years are not far removed from our beginning...the baby announcements. A handful of the sweetest, vintage, baby announcement cards (I forgot how small the envelopes used to be that the U.S. Postal Service would allow). Cards received dated 1947, 1948, 1949...the years our first Post WWII Baby boomers were born. Young couples throughout the United States having survived the war and were starting their families. Precious statistics; boy or girl, length, weight, etc. all written out on the smallest of cards with artwork of babies on the front...1940s babies.

It made me think of the events of both these women's lives, the changes they saw in society, technology, dress, manners, music, houses, the day-to-day way women lived their lives. Both women were born when the Century was new, both passed away at age eighty-five (within a year of each other) as the Century was nearing its close.

My mother once told me, when she turned sixty, she looked in the mirror and wondered who that old woman was. Inside she felt no different than she did as a young teenage wife and mother. Having reached my fifties, I can relate. Where did those years go? How could I possibly be married over thirty years? Why, it was just yesterday I didn't trust anyone over thirty!

Sigh...I know where they went. They were lived day...twenty-four hours at a time. Each of us lives our life one day at a time. That is good, His mercies are new every morning. I was just reminding my son this week when he was panicking about a situation he would not meet for a year. As I reminded him, God gives us the grace for one day at a time. We must make our plans, have our goals, think ahead...then put it all in His hands. We need not panic. We do each day what He shows us to do and Him.

Children grow up one day at a time. They learn about Jesus one Bible story at a time. They learn about love one hug and one kiss at a time. They learn about forgiveness, grace, mercy, one disappointment at a time. Children remember a childhood of Christmas days and Easter days and Valentine's Day and Birthdays; visits to parks and zoos; chats with mom and dad; serious talks and giggles; favorite shows and movies watched together; books read and songs remembered...memories that someday will be grouped together under the memory called "Childhood"...all lived one day at a time. That's what going through Estella's special box of memories reminded me. Memories from the 1940s through the 1990s...all lived one day at a time in a life that covered eighty-five years.

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