Just saying the word memories seems to evoke strong emotions. Love them or hate them, we all have them…
When I was 11 my parents planned a vacation. This was a big deal because we never went farther away than a couple of hours from our home during the summer. We were going to pack all 5 of us and my grandmother into our big old car with NO air-conditioning, vinyl seats and drive to Orlando Florida in the summer. Now before you assume that of course I was excited…I was going to Disney World…I need to remind you that this would have happened in 1969. There was no Disney World yet. Not even sure it was a glimmer in Walt’s eyes at that point. We were going to visit my mother’s aunt and cousins who lived in Orlando.
None of that mattered. We were crossing state lines and going to the area that had an ocean. Part of the trip would be to Orlando, and the other half we would go to Daytona Beach. Excited didn’t begin to explain how I felt.
My sister and I shared a very tiny room in our parents house. It was just wide enough to fit a twin trundle bed. The only problem was that if you pulled out the second twin bed, you could not open or close the door anymore. Yes, our room was just wide enough to fit two twin beds. I tell you this, because we had to leave the door open that night. It was hot in St. Louis in the summer. Hot and humid. We had no central air in our house, only the window fans that were used to suck warm air through the home at night. Although, that beat the stifling rooms that had no hot breeze at all.
As I laid on that bottom trundle bed, I could see into the living room. My mother was busy packing and preparing everything that she needed for the long car ride to Orlando. Suitcases were open on the floor and she was trying to squeeze in all the swimsuits, towels, shoes, and other clothes into a limited amount of space. We had the trunk of this huge old car that could fit multiple bodies in it, but that was not the problem.. the problem was that we only owned a few suitcases. So it all had to fit. Those sturdy green and beige suitcases from the 1950’s had no “give” to them at all.
I remember telling myself that I HAD to remember this moment for the rest of my life. I intentionally forced myself to pay attention. What did the room feel like? Was my sister awake? How did Mom look, was she talking to anyone? What did the living room look like at that moment with the clothes laid out in piles? What I saw, what I was feeling, hearing and recording in my mind was very important to me at that moment. It is trapped in a time capsule, waiting for those rare moments that I choose to open it and relive that experience.
I chose to make this a memory. I knew it felt important to me. Looking back there are so many moments that have slipped past me.
As you may know, my mother now suffers from Alzheimer’s. So many memories are gone, some that were very important to her, remain. It makes me want to start writing down all the important and not so important memories that I have. Already my son’s are making comments like.” You remember when we did that…right Mom?” and the simple truth is sometimes the answer is….no, no I don’t.
I realize that I have to stop, look around and really pay attention to what is going on around me. I want to choose to commit so many more moments big and small to memory. I may not always have these memories, but I do at the moment & I will cherish them for now.