I have a box of memories. I have it somewhere, probably buried amongst other boxes, stored away someplace, but not forgotten. I have pictures and old letters. I have postcards that I sent home from when I was in sleepaway camp.
One of those postcards is as simple as ever. “Dear Mom, send food!” and that’s all.
There are greeting cards that I sent when my Mother first moved to Florida. I believe I sent weekly cards for a while. She kept all of them.
I know this because I found them when I packed Mom’s things before we moved her to assisted living. This is life though. Ups and downs, the good and the bad. And so is this box: it’s life.
I have pictures of my Father that go back to the days of black and white photographs. I have photos of Mom when she was young and also, I have a photo when Mom regrettably got a perm. She turned her hair curly. I’m not sure why. Then again, I wonder if anyone knows what they were thinking when they look back at their fashion tragedies.
There are pictures of my brother, Dave. He was the athlete. He was somewhat of a town hero, well-known, popular, and since he was my older brother, I remember girls would ask me about him. What does he do? What is he like?
He had a little bit of a Patrick Swayze look going, somewhat like the way he appeared in Roadhouse and partly like the way he looked in the movie The Outsiders. I did not have the same appeal, which was tough for me when I was a kid. It was tough but eventually, I grew into my own self and what I have and who I am isn’t too bad at all. I’m no Swayze but hey, I am who I am.
I have important things in this box. Priceless things. I have things that connect to special times in our family’s history. I have pictures of my Grandparents on my Father’s side. There are pictures from New Mexico. This is where my Mother is from. Mom never kept much from her childhood. My Grandfather Dave passed when Mom was only 10.
Mom never talked much about her childhood. She only said it was unhappy. And as for my Grandmother, or Grandma Lu (as in short for Lu-Lu Nell Thomas) Mom rarely spoke about her.
She used to be insecure about her accent but I never noticed. Mom said this was because she worked hard to get rid of it. However, there were some words she would not say. For example, the word “Mayonnaise.” Mom would only say “Mayo” because mayonnaise had too much of her old southern drawl.
I never understood this. I mean, why change the way you speak?
Mom said this was because she didn’t want to be seen as a little southern bell or be attached to a stereotype. I understand this but I respectfully disagree. I love my accent and no, I might not be picked to be the narrator of all times, but at least I’m still me.
But ah, the box.
I have memories in this box. These are true live memories. I doubt that I am the only one who owns a box like this. I am sure that you have something like this too. Somewhere, no?
I am in-between journals now. And I am thinking about the next project. Where do I start? What do I want to write about? For me, sometimes it’s fun to write with no particular agenda.
Just to write.
I have a favorite picture in the box that comes from the end of WWII. This is a picture of a bunch of men in Army Air Corps uniforms, sitting at a table with pitchers of beer and women on their laps, a cigar in hand, toasting to whatever it was and on the picture are the words, “The Boys.”
I have often wondered about this picture. I wondered about the depth of their connection. I wonder about what they saw together and what they went through with one another.
What a great title to put on a photograph.
I have some of my baby pictures in this box. I have a few photos from my younger years. I don’t remember them much. Then again, does anybody remember when they were young? Or, is our youth more like a story that happened to us in another lifetime?
I think of my old bedroom. I think about the different phases of my youth, which I know happened. I was there. I lived through this; yet somehow, my story is more like an old movie that I sat through once. Sometimes there were subtitles, as if the movie of my life was something I could never understand.
Know what I mean?
Come to think of it, if it were to become a movie, I wonder who would be the narrator. I think that for some parts of my life, it would be Animal from the Muppets. But no, I think I would need someone whose voice would give justice to my story. But anyway, I digress.
The best photos that I own are from when our families gathered. I remember the tables of food. I remember that something always spilled or a dish or a glass broke. And someone would say, “It ain’t a party until someone spills something” or “Breaks something.”
I miss my family. I miss the memories. I miss Mom and I miss The Old Man. I miss the beach and the trips to Point Lookout.
I miss my trips to Florida.
I miss my early morning walks at sunrise along the beach at Ft. Lauderdale.
I remember a breakfast I ate when Mom was in the hospital. I was seated outdoors. I had coffee. I had some orange juice. I had steak and huevos rancheros. I was facing the ocean and watching the navy ship, USS New York, head out to sea.
I had a million ideas in my head and million hopes to dream about. I still had Mom around. She wasn’t doing very well but at least she was around to speak with.
I miss that.
As a matter of fact, there was a tattoo shop that was not too far from where I ate breakfast that morning. My brother Dave and I went there the last time he and I were in Florida together. We got matching tattoos “6.10.15.” This was the day Mom died.
See what this box does?
I’ve not even opened it; yet, I can feel the emotion. I can feel the buried treasure that live in this box. I can feel the presence of something bigger than the pictures. I can feel the memory, which is just fine because a time will come that we all move on; but the memories we leave will carry on.
By the way, I wish I could take you back to one of my family get-togethers. If I could, I’d take you back to one from the holidays. The house was filled with family. There was a bedroom filled with coats on the bed. And the food was great. The mood was even better. I would let you get a hug from some of the best huggers in my family. I swear, you would never feel alone again. All you would do is remember the hug and that would help.
My family would love you. They’d welcome you to the table and feed you until your belly begged you to stop. And then we’d have dessert!
Maybe I should go look for that box.
I know where it is. I’m not sure if I’m ready to tackle all of the emotions that come with this. But hey, I’m sure you understand. In fact, I know you do.
That’s why you’re here.
It’s because you get it.