Memories Are Made Of This
We’ve been thinking a lot about memories and life stories lately. Maybe it’s because our family just celebrated my mom’s 90th birthday. Still beautiful at ninety, she wore blue lace and invited 170 of her closest friends. Together, we all celebrated a life truly, “well lived.” A life of giving and joy and, of course, yes, some sorrow.
Today, we’ll examine some ways to set down memories to evoke the important elements of life, the joys and pain of love, of friendship, of loss, of caring and anger, of heartbreak and celebration. And even of the unassuming day-to-day facts of living which may seem simplistic and uninteresting at the time. Even five years on, they acquire the patina of history, of memory. They become the stuff of legend in relationships. And, yes, they are perhaps the most important stories of all. We are, after all, all of us, the stuff of legends. We are, “all human life.”
If our recollections acquire the stuff of history after just five years, imagine what thirty years brings. We start to get a sense of real history. We look back on lives that were new and full of promise, and see how they have been fulfilled over time.
In this series, we’ll look at some memories of life in London nearly one hundred years ago, and see how the details of personal lives teach us not just about the authors, but about the fascinating minutiae of social history.
Heartbreakingly, we ‘ll read some entries from the diary of a young soldier of the First World War. He was on the winning side, but he died, lost in the mud of France, at age 17, and it is almost unbearable to turn the pages of his penciled diary and see how they come to an abrupt end at a poignant and tragic blank page on the day after he died. Somehow the diary found its way back to my paternal great grandparents but they never accepted their son’s death. Now, I treasure his writing.
Over the next couple of blogs, we’ll look at a few different stories and their authors and see how important their recounting of their histories is.
In this first example, I had simply jotted down fond memories of my friendship with my lovely friend, Linda, her pregnancy with Jodi, her first born. Interestingly, thirty years on, that little Jodi lives in Austin, Texas and has been voted the most popular food blogger there. Check her site, tastytouring.com And a warning! You will have to go find something good to eat once you have visited it!
Method One. Write simply. Keep to the actual memories. Write to the person you are writing about.
The best memories over a thirty-year friendship?
Endless macaroni lunches while we stayed home with our small children. Long summer walks, pushing strollers as we went round and round and round the Honey Gables Circle in the afternoons, driving to play groups, shopping expeditions, dinner parties when we would struggle to put small children to bed and make sense of chaotic houses before the guests arrived.
Linda, pregnant with Jodi, drops in to see Alex and David. Baby Hannah has spread a layer of scrambled eggs over the entire kitchen. Linda, in unbelieving tone, “And you are going to have dinner guests in this house in one hour?” Alex, “Wait until you have your baby, Linda!”
Linda, just pregnant with Jeff, puts on a surprise 30th birthday party for Alex. The house looks great, decorated with streamers and fabulous food, and is full of people. Linda has been throwing up all day, and has fought the nausea to put on the party.
Linda, pregnant with Jeff, and suffering unbearably with itchy palms and feet, takes to scratching her feet on the outdoor nylon mat – the only way she can find relief.
Linda, demonstrating her beautiful new home renovations to the local government inspector, proudly shows off the new shower that Andy had hoped to keep secret so as not to incur additional taxes.
Linda, nine months pregnant with Jeff, paints the exterior of her house on a blistering hot day. Andy eventually awakens and steps outside in bright orange toweling robe and relaxed mien to issue instructions.
Linda plants radish seeds in sweet little clumps . “Well, that’s the way you buy them in the market. I was going to lay a rubber band around them on the ground.”
What makes Linda such a special person?
You can absolutely rely on her – Linda gives time and energy to help you in bad times and she is so just so much fun in the good times. I have sat, perfectly comfortable, bawling my eyes out with Linda, confiding inner turmoil to her, and in the good times, shared such wonderful laughter with her.
She is very special, and very loved, and very glamorous.
Happy, Happy Sixtieth!!