We all have many memories. In this writing, I share specific remembered moments from throughout my life that are special for various reasons. I begin with my earliest memories and include just enough information to place them in context.
My earliest memory is sitting on the toilet being toilet trained by my grandmother, Josephine, with whom we lived. I was not her first grandchild, but her first granddaughter. I must have been between one and two years old and remember her with much love. What I have remembered so strongly during the past few years is that she showed me how to count out three squares of toilet paper, saying that was what I should use. When I remember that now — every time I use the bathroom — I consider the importance of conserving natural resources, to which I was oblivious for more than half my life.
Another early memory happened when I was six, with my first pair of eyeglasses. Near the bathroom of my first memory was a set of three steps, leading to a large room. With my new eyeglasses, really seeing clearly for the first time, I fell down those steps. No harm was done, but a lifetime memory was created.
Of course, I have innumerable memories of my son. One that may exist because of a picture that I haven’t seen for decades comes from his first haircut. Jack may have been four or five years old and had full, rich, dark brown hair. He was an easygoing kid and we looked forward to taking him to his father’s barber. The barber provided a booster seat for him and wrapped a large white smock around his neck. For some reason, as soon as the scissors were near him, Jack started screaming. I don’t remember how the day ended; I simply remember him screaming, not wanting the barber anywhere near him.
One travel memory is from Mexico, involving a watermelon. We spent two months in 1974 traveling in Mexico in a Winnebago, shopping locally for food, which we then prepared. One very hot day, as we were driving along a remote road, we saw a small watermelon stand. I asked Dick to stop and we briefly discussed our bartering strategy, before I stepped outside to bargain. A few minutes later, I went back inside with a watermelon and described why I hadn’t bargained, had paid their asking price. They had asked for one peso for a whole watermelon. One peso then was worth about eight cents!
Another memory was formed in the seventies concerning my first wedding gown. I loved that dress so much! When I ordered it, I chose to have fabric covered buttons in the back, instead of an ordinary zipper. The dress had a gorgeous train. My memory is not about choosing it or wearing it in 1966. Instead, it comes from the seventies, when for some reason I realized for the first time that, other when I was getting dressed, no one got to see the beautiful buttons, because they were covered by the train!
In the eighties, on a trip to Hawaii with a friend, we signed up for a surfing lesson. We didn’t know it, but a photographer was taking pictures, which were later shown to us, for sale, of course. Well, I was not a talented surfer. However, the photographer captured a picture of me ‘surfing’ in about a foot of water, perfect position, that made me look like I knew what I was doing! I bought that picture and it is a perfect memory!
Another striking travel memory came from Scotland, searching out a remote location of ancient standing stones. We found the location at a pasture identified only by a simple sign, instructing us to enter, ignore the sheep, walk toward the stones, then asking us to please shut the gate as we were leaving, so as to keep the sheep from roaming outside.
One sad memory colored by wonder was created on the day of my mother’s death. She was very Catholic and loved saying the Rosary. On the afternoon of her death, as I entered her peaceful hospital room, I heard a chorus of voices repeating, “Now, and at the hour of my death, Amen.”
Two strong related memories come from a medical encounter in 2018. The first, after feeling exhausted during a tap-dancing class, then seeing my doctor, was watching her enter the exam room holding the printout from my EKG and announcing, “You’re having a heart attack. I’ve called an ambulance.” The second, about a week later, immediately after the anesthesiologist told me she was about to put me under for my bypass surgery, was saying to her, “Wait! I need to tell you that I love my life.” Her instant response was, “Well, we’re going to make sure you have plenty more of it.” Fortunately, they did and I continue to make memories.
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