Memory Lane

 

It has been quite a while since I have written anything that I wanted to share … because frankly, who wants to read about depressing, unhappy or pessimistic views? But this past week I started a new project which has inspired me in many ways.

My family affectionately entitled me the “Camera Nazi” because no matter where or when or what – I was there with a camera. We all rejoiced after Hurricane Katrina where my daughter and son-in-law lost almost all of their photos (wedding pictures were in a Rubbermaid container which floated up with the tide and were completely dry and safe). Along comes mom with pictures of the couple dating and most importantly many of their oldest child’s first year from 0-1 when Katrina came along.

collection of gray scale photos

While having all these pictures is a good thing, it can present somewhat of a problem due to space constraints. Before we relocated to the gulf coast, we had pictures in every room – framed pictures in the living area, on bookshelves, fireplace, dressers and hallway walls; not to mention those printed and stored in a spare room in boxes from 1971-2008. When we down-sized there was no fireplace or bookshelves and NO hallway on which to display my beautifully framed photographs so I pared down and picked a select few to group and put on the wall in the master bedroom. With very little shelf space, I put a few on pieces of furniture but because I was trying to create a new “look” in our new house, most of the pictures, framed and unframed found their way to BOXES and were stored in a storage unit. Are we the only people who rented a storage unit when we moved in 2014 and are still using it to this day???

Last week I decided to do something about my collection. I had previously moved the boxes from the storage unit to our house to protect them from moisture and so I could work on them … when I had time! That was in 2017. My motivation for accepting the challenge last week was my search for a glue gun! I knew I had a regular-sized glue gun and my daughter needed to borrow it (rather than her mini-glue gun) as she set up her classroom for the new year. We could not find it anywhere! The last place to look was in a box labeled “crafts” which was in the guest room closet, under boxes of … you guessed it … pictures! I moved the picture boxes, and when I pulled out that box of crafts realized the top had caved in and it was a massive jumble of items that I had forgotten I even had on hand … but NO glue gun. So, I purchased and used a small 3-drawer plastic storage chest that would fit nicely inside the closet to organize the mess and thus created a space for what needed to be re-located AND where anyone could find what they were looking for… plus as a bonus it would give room to guests for hanging up their clothes!

Now, with the picture boxes circling my desk chair like a wagon train, I decided that would be the next project. With two storage boxes that would fit neatly under the bed, I started going through my collection of photos. The first box contained early photos – from the time my honey and I met and through the early years and high school years of our children. That filled one box. The second box is half full of photos from the late 1990’s through today, because who prints pictures anymore? I put those aside for the time being as I tried to purge what now filled my guest room, leaving no place to walk!

Today I decided to complete the project. I moved the last box from our garage into the house and re-opened the “new” and “old” picture storage boxes. If I had started with the newest box, I might never have finished as it contained photo books of our children from toddler through adolescence AND most of all, black & white photos from the early 1900’s! At some point through the years my mother had passed on to me a grouping of photos separated into my grandfather (Austin Edmund Roberts) when he was young with his parents as well as the aunt & uncle that raised him, my grandmother (Hazel Augusta Kent Roberts) and her family. I also had some beautiful pictures of my southern grandparents (John Thomas Walters and Velma Pilgrim Walters).

We have talked about it many times but when my honey and I leave for our forever home with Jesus, most of our “things” will be purged, given away or donated to someone less fortunate. We are fine with that. Everything except the pictures – my next step is to label each one that is not already labeled with the names and dates (the best I can remember) in hopes that this will be the one thing our children will keep for generations to come. It may not seem like much but it is history – real, rich history – proof that I was born Yankee and raised Rebel!

Next project – move all the unprinted digital pictures from my computer and phone to DVD’s and put in a safe place. The scary thing is I know of pictures that are missing from my collection which means there must be MORE boxes in the storage unit!

Oh and the glue gun, my daughter called the day after I had emptied the closet into the bedroom so I could search through the craft box and said, “oh, by the way Mom, I have your glue gun at my house.” It figures!

Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

 

Party Lines …

It’s not very often that I wish for the “good ole days” but these past two days have been a minefield of memories. In a day full of technology why is that we lose touch with those who have played such a significant part of our lives? How do we let friendships that mean so much to us and which helped mold us into the adults we are today get stagnant?

In the last 24 hours I had the opportunity to talk at length with three good friends that I have missed talking to for literally years and today I feel revived and am wondering where the time has gone? It’s not one-sided mind you … any of us could have picked up the phone but the fact is we didn’t!

This started me thinking about when we all were young and thought we had the world on a string – our lives and futures planned! When I first received “phone privileges” we had moved to my dad’s home state in the Deep South away from the beaches and high traffic areas of Florida. Places where I could walk around the block or ride my bicycle to the store to a rural area where not only was there no block to walk and riding a bike meant going down a dirt road with the dust flying! I can

old phone

remember visiting my grandmother’s house, also in the country, and picking up her phone only to hear others talking – that was my introduction to the “party line.” My grandmother would shush me anytime we were at her house because it was not polite to listen to someone else’s conversation. Imagine that!

 

My freshman year of high school we moved from living one year in town to the country – and I do mean country. Why some would even call it “the sticks!” We did not have a party line but we did have timed calls through a small phone company that serviced our area. In other words, when two parties were talking there was a time limit and the phone would beep when your time was almost up. If we didn’t wrap up the conversation quickly, we were cut off … completely … dial tone and all! We soon learned that if we placed the call through the operator … you know dial 0 and when the operator answered she was given the number to call … that the time limit was null and void. But it didn’t take long for our parents to figure out what we were doing so that privilege was put to a halt pretty quickly.

The important thing is that we never lost touch with friends. The loss or limit of phone conversations did not keep us from sharing with each other the important events of our lives. Oh, and let’s not forget those long-distance calls. My “Yankee” grandparents would call almost every weekend or every other weekend and we would take turns talking to them, pass the phone from one to the other, tangling up the cord and stretching it as far as we could.

Then along came parenthood – the popular thing for the next generation was to have their own phone line – a separate phone number from parents so they would never miss a call. Well, that didn’t fly in our house but we finally put a phone line in my daughter’s room and she got her own phone – same number but a line where she could go in the private, solitary space of her room and talk to her hearts content – supposedly with no one knowing what was being said. Of course, we would never listen at the door or accidentally pick up the phone from another room!

As our children reached the end of high school, cell phones were making their mark on society, starting with the bag phone which only the more wealthy or people who traveled could afford. We may have been a little slower than most in adopting this new methodology but we did break down and buy a flip phone for our daughter the first time she had to travel more than 75 miles from home by herself – for safety reasons!!! That was only the beginning.

Even when our children went out on their own and we became empty nesters we were one of those couples that could not imagine doing without a land-line so we kept ours a lot longer than many other families, including our daughter who gave up a land-line phone after her family made their 2nd or 3rd move! Agreed, it was easier not to have to change phone service and not have to worry about calling anyone long distance. But there are times when I miss it – even the cordless land-line was easier to handle than a cell.

One of the things I enjoyed about the land-line phone

 was that we didn’t feel like we HAD to answer it. If we weren’t home, we just weren’t home. There were answering machines by this time that could record any message that was important…and telemarketers got the hint when no one picked up! We could also take the phone “off the hook” or leave it ringing – heaven forbid when we had the urgent need for a private moment!

But yesterday I was glad that I had a cell – the same number I have had since my first cell phone has traveled with me for over twenty years and that same number is one that my true friends will still have stored in their phones. For this and so many other reasons, I was not left “out of the loop” when it came to news that I might have otherwise missed. I also had the numbers of friends that I had not talked to in years … and they were still good numbers as well!

So a thirty-plus minute conversation with three different friends has revived my spirit of camaraderie. We didn’t text – we didn’t email – it wasn’t rocket science … we just talked! Whether it was the change in phones, the multiple changes in our lives or the fact that we all live in different directions it was still good to talk to dear friends and to learn that our friendship will never die, it may just take a back seat for a while.

Life with Mom!

If God grants me the healthy life that He has given to my mom, I will be truly blessed. At 88 she is as full of energy and always positive and enthusiastic about going and doing. So for the week leading up to Mother’s Day this year I brought her to our home for a much-too-short visit. We arrived at her house early so I could help her pack making sure she didn’t forget anything as the plan was to spend the first nine days at my house and then to join my sister on the coast and go back to her house in central Mississippi after a mini vacation with her family.

Several days leading up to the day we would drive up to get her I reminded her that she was coming to my house and she needed to start thinking about what to pack since her stay would be extended past the time with us. The day before when I asked if she had started packing, her reply was, “no, do I need to?”

And so the journey begins as I arrive expecting to start from scratch to find that she has a suitcase almost full. I asked about what she had packed and was quickly chastised with, “don’t you think I know how to pack my own suitcase?”

Okay … “Mom, do you have your meds?”

Of course,” she replies and “extras too.”

I take a brief look through the kitchen and I don’t see her pill box on the counter nor do I see the zippered bag under the cabinet where she keeps the extras. So I think, this is good. I then glanced at her clothes which she insists on “rolling” so they don’t wrinkle which makes it difficult to determine what, exactly, she has packed. Packed and ready (or so I think) we go down the checklist … something I always do when I help her pack … “Do you have plenty of undies? Your weekly pill holder and extras? Pajamas? Robe? Slippers? What about Sunday clothes for church? Do you have all the jewelry you want to take? Oh and do you have your hearing aids? What about toiletries, makeup, etc. (which she has been known to forget). Your phone, mom, do you have your phone and charger?”

Again, her reply quite indignantly is Yes, do you think this is the first time I’ve packed?”

So we decide to ride to town and get a bite to eat for lunch while hubby finishes up his errands and comes back to retrieve us for the 2½ hour ride back to our home on the coast. She is very independent when it comes to money and always likes to have her “little stash” so I ask if she needs to stop by the credit union and she says, “already taken care of!”

We come back to her house and hubby arrives for the drive to our home. She has placed three plastic bags (the WalMart variety) by the coffee table that she says belong to my nephew and that he had left behind and she needed to take them for when she meets up with my sister. We start loading … hubby grabs her suitcase and I grabbed a large kitchen trash bag in which to place the three WalMart bags for ease in carrying. Then we get the 3-4 other tote bags to carry to the truck…one for her books (puzzles, etc.), her beach bag, and a small purple bag with makeup & jewelry. I also grab a couple of other things that I can work on for her while she’s with me. Ahhh, on the road at last.

First night at my house, we start getting ready for bed and she comes back to the living room with a sad, puppy dog face … “I forgot my meds.”

“Mom, are you sure? I did not see them anywhere in your house before we left?”

“Well I can’t find them.”

So I call my brother and ask him to go look for them the next morning and once he locates the misplaced meds to ship overnight to my house – at least until we can think of something better. First full morning, he calls from her house to report that he does not see them … anywhere … even the trash! Okay, I know they have to be with us so we search again – not found!!! The one thing she was adamant about was that they were in a yellow Dollar General bag … and I remember the bags for my nephew. I head out to the truck where we left them knowing she would not need them until she was going to see him and guess what’s in the large bag? Yep, a yellow DG bag full of meds. Crisis averted…for now! Enough excitement for one day so we just hang out around the house – we find the game channel on our TV and teach her how to use the headphones so the TV is not on full volume …I mean I love games too but too much of a good thing is enough … haha!

Mom loves to shop so the next day (day 3) I told her I would take her shopping and then she could go with me to pick up our grandson – her great grandson – from school. As we get ready to walk out the door, my last question is always, “Do you have your ears?” Again, the sad look, “No, I can’t find them.” The truly funny thing about this is it doesn’t bother her … at all … at least not right now.

The search begins … in vain as they are not where she “knew” she had put them. At one point I told her we would not go anywhere unless she found them … but knowing that would not get anything accomplished, I took her shopping and hubby assumed the duties of “hearing aid detective.” Not 10 minutes later, the call arrives – they were found … of course.

The fourth day would prove to be a busy one. I had several events planned and we would be going all day long. As I woke up I heard loud, annoyed voices coming from the kitchen so I jump out of bed and rush to find her and hubby talking rather loud (he always raises his voice so she can hear) with her on the verge of tears because she can’t find her teeth! I said, “mom, come on … think where you took them out … no one here needs or wants your teeth.”

On the brink of what looks like a complete emotional breakdown, she says, “but I know where I put them; they were right in that bowl you gave me; and now they’re not there!”

“Mom … really … do you think someone stole your teeth?”

Again we make a quick sweep of her room and BEHOLD on the desk, in the glass that she had water in the night before to take her pills … are teeth!

Teeth found, we head out to pick up my daughter and grandsons to make a trip to Sam’s and then once we get home, I begin preparations for hubby’s week-late birthday supper AND to prepare for a reunion of an organization I am involved with. As I prepare the potato salad Mom comes into the kitchen and says, “I don’t have anything to wear to church tomorrow.”

Now … remember … I asked her before we left her house if she had something … and I was chastised for even asking. So now between the reunion and the birthday celebration supper at our house, we make a mad dash to Belk’s to find church clothes – at her age it had to look more churchy than what most people might wear today. In a record 30 minutes, we achieve success and make the return trip – thank goodness Belk’s is only 10 minutes away! And, it’s just Saturday, we have five days left on her visit. Oh, the fun we will have!

I recount this journey with fond and happy memories of my mom and because I love her so! When our parents get older and we have to often take on a reverse role, we find that laughter is the best solution to their myriad of crises, so we need to remember the funny, happy things she does to keep our family on their toes. She has been the backbone of our family for over 65 years and I don’t know how I would have made it withour her on my side. So even though this Mother’s Day tribute is a week late, I love you mom! You’re my hero!proverbs 31_28

Words (2) Too …

This school year has been remarkable to me as a grandparent watching our 9-year old grandson’s vocabulary increase and improve. As a 4-year old, he started pre-K with a speech pathologist. In kindergarten and through the third grade, his pronunciation and speech involving specific sound combinations improved but this year has been a game changer! When I pick him up from school each day and it is just the two of us, we talk about a variety of things – from sports, to Marvel heroes and even explanations to me of Bible truths he may have learned that day! (No, he is not in public school.)

Though his vocabulary often astonishes me, yesterday we had a very interesting conversation where he used yet another new word. The conversation went like this:

With his head laying against the car door and his face a little downcast – not his usual joyful, smiling demeanor, I asked, “how was your day?”

“Well, it was okay until the end of school …”

“What happened? Did you get in trouble?”

“No, it’s personal Mammie.”

“Did you make a bad grade?” (He often will not share things like this with me and has not made very many “bad” grades but it was worth asking.)

“No.”

“Personal? Does that mean you have a problem like –stomach ache, wet your pants, or get something bad on your clothes?”

“NOOOOOOOOO! Mammie, good grief … it’s just personal.”

So my last question was, “did you have a fight with your best friend?”

In a half whisper he replied, “Yes … kind of …”

“Uh, oh … what happened?”

“Mammie – that’s classified information. I’m not even gonna tell mom or dad.”

Of course this piqued my curiosity so like any typical mom/grandma I pushed a little harder but to no avail. At that time I asked if he wanted to talk about it.

“No, it’s too personal – it’s classified!”

“Okay – well you know you can talk to Mammie when mom and dad are not around.”

“But I am not going to even tell them!”

Now on Fridays we typically have treat day where we go get ice cream or something special and if we pick up his brother then we have a real treat and that is only if they are both in a benevolent mood. So he makes a proposition to me since it’s only Wednesday and NOT a treat day.

“Mammie if we can stop by Starbucks for a treat on the way home I will tell you.”

“Okay – but you’ll have to share the classified information with me – before we go. Okay?”

“Sure.”

As only a nine-year old can, he proceeded to tell me what happened between him and his friend which of course, did not amount to much as adults might observe but was important enough to him to be “classified” and that was all I needed.

So the word of the day was classified … and I had to think deep about where he might have heard this term and how it may have been used. Are we like that? Do we sometimes use words that may not accurately portray what it is we’re trying to convey? As I wrote in my last blog, sometimes I know what I want to say but cannot voice it because I’m way too emotional when I get angry or disappointed or hurt! But when I put those thoughts on paper and I think I am saying exactly what needs to be said, those same words can be misinterpreted.

What is considered “classified information” today? The media apparently thinks there are no areas in our life that are private. There is no question or space in our lives that would hinder a person’s personal rights and if we try to hedge a question, it is assumed that we are trying to hide something. Maybe we need to go back to the minds of children and speak honestly and forthright from the beginning. “Oh what a tangled web we weave …” Think and PRAY before you speak! It may save someone’s opinion about you. My grandmother always told me that “if you can’t say something nice about a person, don’t say anything at all,” an adage I have tried to abide by in my senior years! I wish I had learned it earlier …

Words … and Their Effect

Of all the things I would like to do when I grow up my lifelong ambition is to write! Writing is my passion. I have always been able to express myself better with the written word than speaking verbally when my tongue seems to trip over each syllable and my brain wants to produce those chemicals that make us all teary, emotional and even crazy at certain times. When I was a child I remember, and used often, the rhyme “sticks and stones can break my bones … but names can never hurt me.” Ha! I guess all parents teach that to their children early just in case there’s a verbal bully around the playground. I, for one, grew up believing it. Then I became a mother … and the old axiom that you can say to me what you will but don’t say anything about my husband or children means just that; I can say what I will … but YOU cannot!

manual typewriter baby

Being the child of the military system, we moved a lot … so I was quick to learn about being a pen pal. My grandparents and I wrote back and forth all the time – phone calls were not as cheap or as easy to make in those days. I also corresponded with my cousin who lived thousands of miles away. “Getting the mail” from the mailbox in front of our house was of significant importance to me … as was walking to the corner mailbox to drop my letter and send it speedily on its way. Do you remember when “airmail” meant something was really special? When my dad was stationed overseas, we not only wrote to him but he would send movies back to us of the places he went and the wonderful, exciting things he got to see while on a ship – no words or sound of course! His letters accompanying them described the adventures he was having even though he missed us. I still have a letter from him written to me as a very small child with messages to obey and hug mommy just for him.

The problem with words today is that with social media, texts and the like we often spill words without thinking the message through. And when words are written via any electronic method, it’s too late once the “send” button is pushed. It often makes electronic messages contain the same level of emotion as speaking the words aloud. I am NO good at confrontation. In fact, I despise conflict of any kind – it makes me cringe. So as you can imagine arguing is not my forte because I tend to get all emotional and never really say what I want to say! It’s way too easy for others to trip me up! In the past I have written any important points I want to make with someone down so that I can re-read and re-read and then READ again to make sure those words cannot be taken in any way other than what I intend. However, the recipient may have a completely different mindset than I so unfortunately the recipient may perceive my written words as having a negative affect when all I intended was a positive deduction to come out of whatever was written.

So it is in this situation I have gotten myself in a bind … again. If there is one thing to be learned from writing to a specific person is that one should never write when angry, hurt, disappointed, disillusioned, etc. because it does not matter how the words were intended, somehow our feelings show through. I would only hope people that know me well would KNOW I never mean to hurt others. Like I said – I despise conflict! But even in the best of circumstances, it happens. When it does, I am learning, albeit difficult, to sit back – shut my mouth, take my hands off the keyboard and pray. The most important element of words spoken or written and perceived incorrectly is to apologize once they are taken in this manner. So, if I have ever spoke aloud, wrote, texted or posted anything to you that hurt your feelings or made you feel uncomfortable, I apologize.

I still love to write and the “real” story is still out there waiting to be written. One day – when my grands are too old to want their old mammie driving them around and coming to ballgames and school events; one day – when I may not be able to GO places and see things; one day – when I get it all together (is that ever going to happen)? Then, I will tell that story in hopes that my experiences through words can help others and it will be a positive experience for them. Isn’t that what we are called to do? So … here I go … my mouse is hovering and it’s done – PUBLISH!

Precious Moments …

When things are not going as smoothly as we would like sometimes, it’s always good to remember and even dwell on positive memories. This past week exemplified this point to me ten-fold and I had the opportunity to share it with others yesterday again emphasizing the importance of demonstrating a Christ-like example to our grandchildren.

I am one of the few privileged grandmothers who get to pick up one of our grandsons every day after school and we often play games as we travel to his house. My first question is always, “How was your day?” To which he replies “good!” As we head toward home, we have the same discussion … which way do we go-the short, slow or the long and fast? He usually picks the short and slow that always us to travel by his old elementary school so he can say “hey” to the teachers that walk the children across the street from upper to lower elementary. Then we play a game … one of which is “my car” and I find the rules often change if mammie spots the sportiest car first! Fridays are treat day unless of course we hang out for the hour until big brother gets out so we pick him up also. Sometimes this calls for “treat” day to come earlier in the week.

On the days the two of us just get to go to his house, we let out their sweet canine brother, Banks, and then grab a snack. Last week, as we headed home, he leaned his head on my shoulder (with his seatbelt stretched as far as it would go) and said, “Mammie I love it when we get to go to my house and snuggle.” The day most recently that brought certain happiness to my heart was about a week ago. On this day, we went about our after-school routine and then because it was rainy and cold, we snuggled under a blanket on the couch to watch one of the many kids’ shows that had been recorded. Recently during these shows there has been a commercial asking kids “who their favorite warrior is?” Some reply a parent, entertainer, sports figure or other miscellaneous people in their young lives.

I took the opportunity to discover who our little man had as a warrior and the conversation went like this. “Who’s your favorite warrior?”  Without hesitation he replied “God.” With my heart beating with pride and tears at the edge of my eyes, I simply replied, “good.” The simplicity of a child and their complete trust and response with no forethought is what often results in the best and most honest answer we can get on any given topic. This little one never ceases to amaze both his parents and grands with his tender heart and deep soul.

In the days of super heroes (of which he is a fan), entertainers and sports figures who appear larger than life, small memories such as this bear repeating and to dwell on when times can be shadowed somewhat by the bad or unfortunate things that happen in our lives as well as in the world. My prayer is that you have a memory, even a tiny one, such as this that will encourage you to keep living as He would have you live and to always live a Christian example to others, especially children!

Kindness…

Kindness…

As I sat in the recliner enjoying my casual Sunday “down” time, I was reminded that I have not posted anything in a couple of weeks. I sat down at my computer and started thinking about a topic to write on and what ensued was not a flowery rendition of how wonderful my birthday was or the exciting events of this past Valentine’s Day. Instead I started thinking about negativity.

At one point (there were SO many) when I joined Weight Watcher’s© I went to meetings held by a positive, energetic and petite lady named Penny. One of her favorite sayings was “No stinking thinking!” We won’t even get into the fact that like so many other times, I loved the meetings but was not successful in the program – entirely my fault I assure you!

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity – from Mardi Gras parades on the coast and our grandsons being out of school, celebrations of both mine and good friend’s birthdays, meals shared with more good friends and don’t forget Valentine’s Day! I have always felt a little cheated since my birthday is the day before V-day but I do not ever remember a really bad Valentine’s.

I was trying to think of something special to share and the one thing that keeps popping up in my head is a conversation that my 9-year old grandson and I had one day on the way home from school. My daughter is especially weight conscious – probably because of her mother’s failure to stay fit – so she attempts to keep her family in line by not overindulging in unhealthy food. So, Friday we are riding home after school and I say, “Well today’s treat day – what would you like to eat?”

“Nothing mammie, I really cannot eat anything fattening because I don’t need it.”

“Oh, is that because you’re getting a little pudgy?” I ask gently tickling his belly and laughing.

He leaned his head on my shoulder (as I was driving) and said, “Mammie, it really isn’t nice to say someone is fat…”

Oh well, no treats today but later I find out part of the reason … they had planned a small belated birthday celebration for me complete with pizza, cookie cake and a movie! Who needs treats! We watched “Wonder” and there were two sayings that stuck with me from this inspiring movie. The first was “When given the choice between being right or being kind choose kind.” And then toward the end of the movie when talking about success, we hear these words, “It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.” [i]

So as you journey throughout your daily activities this coming week, remember these words – and those of a 9-year old – “it really isn’t nice.”

[i] https://www.penguin.co.uk/puffin/articles/2017/june/10-quotes-from-wonder-that-will-inspire-you-to-choose-kind/#aM7jjZ6c1qeyrt5y.99