Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Memory Box

I spent a wonderful afternoon yesterday having tea with old classmates. Our hostess did a proper tea. She hired a friend who caters teas. Nothing was missing. We have five, maybe six “courses” served on floral china and all the amenities of high tea. The guest of honor was a classmate I had seen last sixteen years ago. I was the first to arrive and was greeted by Joyce, the hostess, and Mary the guest of honor. I did not recognize her. Many times years take their toll on faces and bodies and we need to reintroduce ourselves. This is a good example of emerging from the Chrysalis. Mary was always pretty and vivacious. She is now beautiful, gracious and accomplished. I knew her well years ago and we were roomates one summer, but I have never met anyone who has changed so much for the better over the years. She is now an artist, blond instead of a redhead, soft spoken and continues to do research on chemotherapy. I did more listening than talking, knowing I have more to share about how my flowers are growing, what books I have read and how many miles I walked today.

Of the seven gathered most are grandmothers. I have the youngest child. They laughed when I related I am almost finished raising our family.(Been at it since 1968.) Julie reminded me I had one too early and one too late. She also had one too early. We swapped pictures and email addresses were renewed. Much of the talk drifted towards our maladies. I am the only one not on Fosamax or some treatment for osteoporosis. I guess it paid to be a little bigger boned and heavier. These are all very trim women. There were several who have had joint replacements. I started feeling pretty lucky and pretty healthy.

Most of us are orphans but three had mom’s in their 90’s who were in assisted living or nursing homes. Julie told of preparing a memory box for her mom with mementos of her life. The facility asks all the families to do this. They are outside each resident’s door, reminders of how each life was lived, what was precious to them. I am sure it serves as a reminder to the resident and also to the staff and visitors that this person is more than the frail individual we might visually observe now. This got me thinking last night. What would be in my memory box? I made one in the 70’s and it is still on a shelf in my closet. The most precious content: a lock of each of my babies’ hair. I need to tell the kids not to throw it away. That could be the first thing in my new memory box. I also have an empty bottle of Shalimar perfume in that collection. It was the first gift Jon gave me when we were dating. I have my baby fork and spoon, a couple of De Guerre type tin photos of relatives I can no longer identify, a Ukranian Easter egg from one of our first Easter’s, and lace doilies passed down from my grandma Dybdahl. There is also a tiny harmonica and a jointed teddy bear about three inches high that were my dad’s. I think he had them since he was a child so they are approaching antique status. For a long time I had my Grandma Parnell’s yellow sapphire engagement ring in this display. I took it out and gave it to my daughter when she was a young adult. I know my new memory box will have to have pictures of Jon and the children and grandchildren. Maybe my service pin from Lakeview hospital belongs there too. I don’t think my computer will fit but they could include a title page from the book, “Sisters” Carolyn and I wrote last year. In my jewelry box I still have a small pin awarded for being the best typist in my high school class and a pin for graduating with honors. For the next forty years I haven’t been winning awards or blue ribbons. This search for what would be noted in my “new” memory box was turning into a downer until I remembered the “secret” memory box I have stashed. I have one being kept safe from thieves, rust and moths. God promised to store up my good deeds in heaven. He asked that we lend to the poor—give it in His name and he would repay later. Even a cup of water given in his name will not be forgotten. I think I will just continue to focus on that memory box. That is an account that will not plunge if the Dow Jones fails. I have assurance of salvation through his work and reward for mine. Good place to focus. I want to see a smile on my Father’s face when we open that memory box someday.

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