Monday, July 2, 2012

Cherishing The Memories

Sometimes I envy people who have never suffered the loss of a loved one. The hole in one’s life is painful. But then if I had not lost these people that I loved, would I have learned to cherish my memories of them?

My sister would plan a trip to the grocery store like a general preparing for battle. It made me a little crazy how she would line up all of the ads and her coupons. Then she would refer to her rebating and refunding magazines. Distance between the stores was factored into deciding where to shop. She would insist in involving me in her preparation when all I wanted was to make a list and get to it! Now that she has been gone for 6 years, I read the store ads in memory of her. I even use coupons; I just don’t have a loose-leaf binder full of them. If she were still here thinking about her ritual would not be precious to me, it would still be a source of irritation. I guess the cherishing of memories replaces the irritation. I have always heard that nature abhors a vacuum.

I had started my search for my family origins long before my sister became ill. She was never really interested in what it was that I was doing. Maybe she enjoyed my absence when I would go off to the National Archives branch to do research.  I know she would not have had the patience to search through lists for hours. I even cherish her outbursts of “I do not have the patience for this” when things were not happening as quickly as she would like them to happen. Those things will always belong to my memories of her.

I do not just trace my ancestors, I scan everything. Every photograph I own, my diplomas, my son’s diplomas and every piece of his childhood artwork that I have collected.  After scanning them, I felt that I needed a way to share my pictures, but not like the vacation slide shows I remember from early in my marriage. I wanted to create something that people would enjoy. So using photo editing software, scrapbooking software and movie editing software, I would create my DVDs with pictures, music and special effects. I thought my behavior was unusual until I discovered there are battery-powered scanners that can be carried in a purse. Apparently I am not the only one trying to save their memories in order to cherish them.

I never really wrote letters. Email is something else. I can whip out an email without much effort. I have been doing it long enough that I have learned to review what I have written before sending it out. Yes, I made some big mistakes. It is still easier to pick up a telephone and call my family with news, but email allows me to contact everyone at the same time, send pictures and embellish my messages with graphics. Not everyone sends the lengthy emails that I do, but I still collect the ones that I receive. I haunt the pages of Facebook for pictures posted by my niece, nephew and daughter-in-law so that I can save them.

I started blogging to make myself record episodes from my life. I certainly did not have a cell phone with a built-in camera on the day in 1971 when my eldest sister took me Christmas shopping. We needed some lunch and were seated in a tiny booth in the middle of the window facing the mall. When my sister’s burger was presented, she picked up the mustard bottle and tried to apply some to her sandwich. She seemed to struggle with dispenser at first and deciding that it was clogged, she pushed hard on the plastic bottle. Suddenly there was an explosion of yellow! It covered the table, the window (it went about 3 feet up from the level of the table), my sister’s black blouse and my hair. All we could do was look at each other for a few seconds before dissolving into laughter. I wish I had a camera at that moment, but all I have are the memories. Now I will be able to relive the mustard incident by re-reading this blog.

I suppose that is why I do scan all of my pictures. I want to try to recapture the feelings of the moment.  I just hope I can capture moments in words. I want more of crazy laughing moments like my sister and the blocked mustard bottle, but I also want to try to capture things like the sound of the pressure cooker my mother used often to cook stew. I want to try to convey the feeling of Christmas when the tree was brought into the house and I could feel the cold coming off of it and smell the sap. I want to try to save the mundane as well as the great events.

Bear with me while I learn how to write.

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