Tag Archives: memories

The Pantry.


My Aunt Ruth’s death almost three months ago has stirred up in me many different emotions. I have deep gratitude for her presence in my life, my entire life. I am also grateful to have her beloved cat, Josh, in our home with us. I feel deep sadness, on and off, when I realize that I will never see her again, in this world. I will never look into her eyes or hold her hands. I feel deep peace when I sense her presence around me, when I talk to her in my car or feel her hand on my shoulder. 


Even though I rarely feel regret about aspects of my life, my way of focusing on the past is through longing. It is very common for me to feel a sense of longing about an aspect of past. Either longing for the way things used to be with someone in my life; longing for looking the same as I may have years ago; or longing for a place that brings deep feelings of love and connection for me. One longing that I have deeply in me is for my Aunt Ruth’s house.


When I was a very young child, the house that became my Aunt Ruth’s homestead was the home of my grandparents, my father’s mom and dad. My Nana and Grampa. I loved going to their house when I was a kid, to see them, and to spend time there. My Aunt Ruth lived with them throughout their lives, and when they both died, she continued to live there, until her death. It is the house and home that was the constant for me as I was growing up. There were homes that I lived in with my parents that felt special to me, but Ruth’s house was the deepest representation of home that I have ever experienced.  When I would visit there, I would enjoy spending time in various parts of the house. There are short stories living inside of me for each nook and cranny. One of those rooms was the pantry.


I had never been in another house, that I remember, that had a pantry. I thought it was so cool, that there was a little room right off of the kitchen, where so many different types of objects were kept:  food; pots and pans; tools; spices. There was plenty of storage space in there, but just enough room for one person to stand in there, turn around a couple of times in a circle depending on what you were looking for. For two people, you couldn’t move around much.


When I was very young, around 8 or 9 years old, and I would spend weekends and holiday vacations there, I would love to go in there and look around at everything on the shelves. I liked to look at the variety of spices, and medicines that were there. There was always a pair of scissors hanging by a hook. Coffee mugs that were the favorites of various persons in the house. Cookie jar that almost always had Oreos in it. And, so many other objects that I always remember being there. And, there was a big metal step stool, that had a seat at the top of it, and extra steps that unfolded out of the bottom. That would fit just under the counter top in the pantry. I remember my Nana, who was diabetic, going in there to inject her own insulin. I would often be in there with her, as she pulled out the stool, sat down, pulled up her dress and injected herself in the leg. It fascinated me that it didn’t seem to hurt her at all.


When my son and I went to Ruth’s house one last time a couple of weeks ago, I woke up early the morning that we were leaving, unable to sleep. I knew that I most likely, would never be in that house again. I felt a strong longing for time to be turned back, just to have one more day, one more weekend in that house. I walked into the pantry, touching objects, taking some with me, and feeling a deep sense of loss and grief. That room, the memories in it for me seemed almost palpable. They were lingering in the air. I tried to imagine other objects on these shelves, and that seemed impossible to comprehend. This is the only way that it should ever be, like in a museum.  


I feel so grateful today for the time that I got to have my Aunt Ruth in my world, and to be in a home that will never leave my heart and mind. And, even with longing, the bigger part of my memories is a deep feeling of love, connection, and peace. The pantry and all parts of that house will always live in me.11202856_1606994312902212_7038100225790313098_n


Just a memory.


At times, I have a very poor memory. A week after I see a movie, I may not remember the details that others who saw it with me remember. I don’t recall past fun events that I have shared with others in conversation. I don’t remember when I have had certain conversations with someone; for example, I asked my fiance the same question within minutes, not remembering that I had already asked her.

For many people, that type of an interaction may seem normal, especially when I am only days away from turning 51 years old. Our systems age as our bodies age, and there are times when we may not remember as clearly as we have in the past. There are some times when this happens and I feel light hearted about it; not concerned about anything. Then, other times, I feel scared and vulnerable. I wonder if I am in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. I wonder if I will not remember people and things around me. I am full of fear.

Brenda posed a question to me to consider, what are memories for anyway? A way to recollect that which we have done in the past? A way to still connect with those around us? What purpose does it really serve?

If I think about it from that perspective, I come up with many things that help me to give it less importance. First, the supposed memories that I hold may not be real; even though they feel real to me, the brain can be flawed in the accuracy of what it recalls, especially if we are talking about something from in the far away past. Secondly, whether or not I can remember a detail of a past event or not, does not indicate how important that event was to me. Just like a trinket from an activity that I have enjoyed isn’t required to be able to recollect my fondness for it.

The biggest realization that I keep trying to remind myself, is that I am living more and more in the present moment. I am right there when we walk the lake, go to a concert or spend time with my family. I am not anywhere else for most of the time when I am there. So, if I can’t remember it later on, who cares? I have enjoyed it immensely, and am getting about the business of enjoying another aspect of my life next.

A memory is just that, a memory. Whether I easily recollect it or not, it is in my past, and today, I get to live in the now instead. And let the future unfold for itself.

sunrise lavender

Fifteen years ago today………

…… I was pacing the hospital floor, watching Wheel of Fortune, getting good drugs, feeling like I was going to pass out, eating ice chips, and then, pushing with all of my might.

To deliver the biggest miracle of my life, my daughter, Hannah Louise.

I guess it is pretty common for a parent to think each year, about where we were and what we were doing on the night of their child’s birth. By this time in the evening, I was on my second trip to the hospital, having had a false labor starting earlier in the day. By the time the evening of December 4th came around, I was well on my way.

Some women say that they don’t remember the pain of labor? I DO! I am not ashamed to say so, either. It is painful. It is hard work. It is physically taxing, and scary at times. My blood pressure dropped really low. My heart rate slowed way down. I almost passed out. I got really scared.

Then, it started to really get exciting. I got some awesome drugs, and actually napped a bit. Until, it became time to prepare for the final act of this play. Time for our baby girl (although we didn’t know it for sure we suspected so) to arrive.

I remember when she was finally born. I looked at her, almost in disbelief. She was quiet, but not in a way that seemed like something was wrong. More like, she had calmly come into the world and felt totally at peace with being handed off to us. She appeared to recognize voices, and she was so calm. I was, and still am, completely in love.

I know as I get ready to head off to bed, that I will awaken around 2:25 AM, the time of her birth, and remember how blessed I am to have had her come to me, an angel on earth. I am as delighted and in awe of her as when I first felt her flutter in my belly.

She is the miracle of miracles.


Goodbye, old house.

Goodbye old house.

It has been over a year since I lived there, walking freely between your rooms and feeling warm, secure and cared for. Even though I still visit you from time to time, it feels different somehow, like I don’t quite belong there anymore. Then, I realized, that I had never said farewell to you, and expressed my gratitude for all that you brought to my life.

I remember walking through your rooms, 13 years ago, wondering if you were the right place for us. Your age, and your stone foundation, as well as a kitchen that invited long conversations, told us that you were the right choice.

But, you hadn’t been lived in for a long while. Your previous owner had cared for you, perfected you, and lived within your walls for many years. When he died, you were left dormant for a long time. We wanted to help you come back to life.

It wasn’t easy, mind you. You needed lots of TLC, just to be ready for us to live there. Yet, we came to visit you, every weekend, to patch up your bad spots and clean you up, and get you ready. And, soon, you were ready, to welcome us home.

I have so many warm, cherished memories from those years. I can still hear the specific squeaks and cracks of certain stairs on your staircase; there was no coming down them softly. The windows that had years of old paint on them, because they had been fixed up so many times. The bell on the back door, so that anytime it would open, we would know it.

The old black, dial telephone that rang outside. Everyone in the neighborhood knew when we would be getting a call.

The rooms that smelled like they had been around a long time. And Elwood, your previous owner, his ghost wandering through at times, for sure, because we would hear things or smell his cigarette smoke.

And then, the yard. So many happy, fun moments in that yard; running like crazy from the bear that came across the yard; the giant turtle that crossed every year on the way to the lake; the forts built among your trees and the gardens that grew even potatoes.

I am so grateful for the years that I spent there, years raising a family and feeling contented.

I am ready now to say goodbye; and although I anticipate being in your presence many more times, I am ready to say goodbye to any part of you still being mine.

I know that you will serve others well. I know that you are reliable, capable and strong.

And, I am ready to let you go.

Death, loss, grief.

My best friend from high school lost her father last week, she and her four sisters. He had not been the best dad, as they all stated, but he was their dad, nonetheless. Death took him from them, at 66 years of age, sooner than any one should have to lose a person that they love.

The loss of him, as far as the impact on her and her family, has not left me. Maybe because we are the same age, and I still have both of my parents living. Maybe because I think about losing my own parents on a fairly regular basis. Maybe because as my daughter grows, and me and my beloved age, it seems that death gets closer and closer to our lives.

Whatever the reason, I am thinking about death, and loss, and losing those that we love the most. And, the grief that comes to reside after such a loss has occurred.

I remember when my beloved paternal grandmother died. I absolutely adored her. I looked forward to my visits with her, I loved to sit with her, I loved to hold her secrets of eating chips and tuna loaded with mayo for lunch, even when she was forbidden to do so because of her terrible diabetes. I kept those secrets close.

When she was dying of cancer, a cancer that she seemed cured of a couple of times, a cancer that wracked her body and stole her spirit, I was visiting her shortly after Christmas. I was home from college on break, and we were at her home. She was sitting in her recliner in the front window, with an afghan over her. I was kneeling beside her on the floor, just looking into her eyes. They were SO BLUE; I had never noticed before. And, she said to me, “I am ready to die”.

I was nineteen. I couldn’t respond; I couldn’t bear to hear the words. I knew her death was imminent, yet I felt burdened to have to be the one to hear those words. My nana, leaving me?

Grief. For a year, I thought that I would never stop acutely missing her; never stop shedding tears; never stop dreaming about her. Eventually, I did. I miss those dreams now. I guess it was my psyche’s way of letting go, accepting the loss of the body of her, but not the memory or the spirit.

And, today it hit me. When I thought about my friends’ father, when I now think about the loss of my grandmother, my other grandmother, my brother, I realize what grief really is.

Grief is directly proportional to the love that we feel for that person that has died. Maybe, even put to the nth power. Grief compounds that love, builds on it with interest. Indeed, there is that initial, hero worship type of grief, in which we view that person as having been all powerful, with no humanness, all godlikeness.

Then, we start to heal, just the tiniest bit, and we realize that each person that we lose to death, in that very humanness that we resist in the beginning, in that humanness is all the love that our hearts can hold. When we remember them with humor, with frustration, with joy, with anger, that is when the love flows.

Because isn’t that how love is anyway?