Tuesday, September 13, 2016

SOL Tuesday: A Blast of Memories

Putting away my new carry-on suitcase after my trip to Paris, I decided it was time to get rid of the small purple wheelie with the handle too short to be comfortable. As I pulled it out of the closet, I noticed there was stuff in it. The “stuff” turned out to be relics of my mother’s, her sister’s, and my sister’s after they died.
     There’s a Google map to Stratford, Connecticut, where several of the family stayed when we went to my sister’s memorial in Westport. Stratford was close to her home, and family and friends gathered there afterwards. There’s a printout of two kinds of meditation, with the hand and with light; my sister became an interfaith minister late in life and loved meditation. I must have thought I might try these, though I am not much of a meditation-person. There’s a letter my mother wrote to me in 1981, about a book of China photos, a Russell Baker column annoyed about the New York Times style book accepting pinyin spelling (stemming from my mother’s Sinophilia), and a hint to my parents’ divorce two years later, only clear to me now. There’s the program for my aunt’s memorial, as well as cards from her friends to my mother, along with two notes my aunt, who lived in Vermont, had written to my mother, revealing her interests in ballet (she’d seen Giselle in Montreal), cooking (she’d taken a class in low-cal French cookery at the nearby New England Culinary Institute), movies (she’d seen Babette’s Feast), and politics (it was right after the 1988 presidential primary).
     There’s a copy of my aunt’s will, now almost 20 years old. I know why my mother would have kept it (she kept almost everything), but why did I? Did I want her list of charitable bequests?
     There’s a journal my sister started two years after her third breast cancer diagnosis, which she titled “Morning Pages”; she kept it for five days. I know now that she had two more years, but she didn’t know. She writes about her bodily feelings, but also her spirit as different from her body, prayer, positive thinking, visualization – all areas I feel little connection with, but find interesting to read. I think I’ll see if her older daughter wants the notebook.
     Lots of photographs, family and otherwise. some I have, but others are of people I don’t know and don’t know why I took them. A clipping from the Miami News, December 19, 1975, is about my mother's talk at a local YWCA about her recent trip to China, one of the early visits organized by the U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association.
      Finally, the stash included recipes, two from my aunt, her Vermont baked beans and a Spicy Rice & Nuts from Montpelier’s Hunger Mountain Co-op. I can barely deciper my aunt’s handwriting for the baked beans, but the Spicy Rice & Nuts looks like something I will try out for my vegetarian days. There are also two recipes in my handwriting that I must have sent to my mother, one for Ghivetch, a Balkan vegetable stew, which I remember making, and another for poached bass with sweet peppers. I made this dish for dinner tonight, though I had to use cod since no striped bass was available. It was delicious. 
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and read their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

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