Today I decided to have some fun and walk down memory lane. I set out to search for traces of significant events of the past, and people that I knew and loved, but maybe no longer see. I limited them to a few findings so I could share some brief stories. Perhaps tomorrow and in the weeks to come I’ll discover traces of other things. Often I look past them without a notice. I’ll try to be more observant from now on. They surround me in my home all of the time, and still exist in many other places that I often visit. I’ll start with the oldest memories.
I call this photo my “Mom with the dandelion”. She was in her late 20s at the time. I was perhaps a year in the making. Dad was in the hospital for a surgical procedure. On this day a photographer from the local newspaper spotted her digging out marigolds from the lawn. She was on her hands and knees, and I imagine he had a nice view. He approached her and asked to photograph her for a feature in the newspaper. He said he’d even photograph my sister and brother (both little tykes) and send her copies. She happily agreed excited to play a model for the day. The photographer took mostly photos of my mom. She even changed into different outfits. The photos ended up being stunning.
So a few days later the man sharing the hospital room with my dad was reading the newspaper. He said “John, this looks exactly like your wife.”
“No, I don’t think so,” my dad said.
“Really! Take a look!” insisted the roomie.
Dad laid there shocked. It was indeed my mother. And the photo was one on her hands and knees, and a bit revealing. You can imagine when my mom came to visit she got an ear full.
Today I routed in the closet of the spare room and found the box you see to the left. Inside contains various items I accumulated during my first trip to Asia (China P.R.C.), when I was 17 years old. I always loved studying languages as a teen and had the lucky chance to study Mandarin Chinese. When my teacher announced she would host a study trip I jumped at the chance. Thanks to my folks for paying my way.
In Beijing, I attended the Beijing #8 middle school. I stayed with a family and girl my age named Jiang Li. The experience just blew my mind. We rode to school each day on bicycles (among hundreds of others), even passing Tiananmen Square en route.
Some of the items in the photo were gifts from friends and Jiang Li’s family. There are ticket stubs to famous sites, photos, and the itinerary for the trip. That trip inspired me to continue my studies at university, live in Taiwan years later, and find a job where I worked with Chinese partners sending students to study in the U.S. I still keep in touch with Jiang Li.
The guitar pictured belonged to my Pop Pop. My favorite grandparent, I must admit. My grandpop died young of a heart attack, when I was only eight years old. His passing was devastating to us all. He was the first person I ever knew who died. A bit of an ending to my idealism of youth. I remember being on a Girl Scout trip crying my eyes out in my bunk. I was remembering all of the years he had me on his lap and treated me to Cracker Jacks. Or when he’d have me sit on his foot stool in the music room, listening to him play the guitar. After my grandmother died people went through the house and chose various items. I chose this guitar, and it is my only remembrance of him.
The succulent plant below was the last little gift my grandmother gave me when I was 29. It was a very sad day when she died on my 30th birthday. Sixteen years have passed, but this succulent still lives on and prospers, like my memories of my grandmother. She baked so many goodies with love for us all. She took me regularly to concerts, seafood restaurants, and farmer’s markets. We sat and watched old movies together. She’d watch me dance. She had a crazy laugh that was infectious, almost always full of joie de vivre.
Yes, this is my wedding dress and bouquet. I just pulled them out of storage today. I keep the dried bouquet (now 19 years old) in the picnic basket to the left. You can still see the pink and blue in the flowers up close. We received the picnic basket as a wedding gift. On our flight home the flight attendant slipped in a bottle of fine champagne to our surprise. I don’t think airlines do that anymore! As for my wedding, that’s a long beautiful story in and of itself.
My sweet emotional support pet parrot died about four months ago in February 2017. There are many traces of him in my bedroom where he stayed. The crazy card (with spinning hair) and stuffed bird drove him nutty with their songs. Attack! The rope toy was his favorite non-human friend. Kisses and rubs. The lovely bird box contains at least 100 of his wing features, all blue, but he was actually mostly green. Sometimes I open the box and touch the feathers. That comforts me.
There is always a trace of all of these wonderful people and memories deep in me. They live on forever in my heart and mind.