Forgiveness for Better Memories

My sister Annie lives with our 88 year old mother in Columbia. Annie asked if I would come and stay for a week with our mom while she took a vacation in her hometown of Mill Valley, CA. Absolutely! Because I only live an hour and a half away, it is easy for me to run down here for a day or two to see my family. This was going to be one of the longest visits in my childhood home since going off to college 34 years ago. During this week with my mom, I would take my sister’s dog, Kobe, for a walk a couple of times a day. I’d let him lead me left or right out of the driveway. It was interesting that during the first days of our walks I would be transported back to the sad memories of my years in middle and high school. I’m not sure how your years as a 13-18 year old were, but mine were filled with pimples, awkwardness, bad fashion, and feeling like an outsider wanting to be “in”. Don’t get me wrong…I had a loving home, friends I would pass notes with in class, read “Tiger Beat” to keep up with all the latest heart throbs and twirled a flag in the marching band.

But during those first walks around the block with Kobe, my heart would sink as I passed the houses where I went to my first girl-boy parties. I’m not quite sure how it always happened, or why I even went, or even why did my parents let me go?!?Innocently enough they happened. A dozen or so kids would show up at someone’s house for pizza, chips, soda and music. It always started out fun, then the lights would go dim. The couples would pair up and old Mar would literally sit in the corner alone. Every. Time. No pimple faced boy would ever pick me. Why would I keep torturing myself by continuing to show up? Because there was always that one friend who would just have to have me there.

The next walk with Kobe I would remember never being asked to go to prom. I would think about the unkind things I did or said.

I passed by the house where I was a mother’s helper a couple of times a week. I would do the grocery shopping, light housework, change diapers, play with the four children and then get paid in CHANGE! Yes! I would come home with a bag full of coins!

These walks were emotionally killing me.There was no way I was going to be able to last a whole week doing this, so I decided to concentrate on the good things.

Here is the light post covered in gorgeous purple clematis that I backed right over the first time I was behind the wheel of a car. My daddy was going to teach me to drive. “Everyone needs to know how to drive a stick shift”, he said. So he stuck me in my sister’s car, which was parked on an angle to the driveway and he sat in the passenger seat. So not only was I learning to drive, I was learning to use the clutch AND I was backing up on a curve. Needless to say, we took off like a shot when the gas met that sweet spot in the clutch and we sailed right into this light post, pulling it right out of the ground and right through my mother’s brand new bushes. I was horrified! I ran inside, threw myself on my parents bed and sobbed. My father came up behind me laughing so hard he was crying, and said “the light post went right back in the hole. You somehow missed the bushes, so come on, we need to learn to drive a stick shift.” (I did and drove that little blue Honda hatchback until it died.)

I smiled as I passed this house where in the upstairs playroom/attic, Kathleen and I played school. She would always be the teacher and I would be the most dutiful student. Kathleen recently shared with me her memory of learning how to diagram sentences and COULDN’T WAIT to get me in that classroom and teach me! Down on Kinlock Road, my friend Pam introduced me to sweet iced tea. My family being Yankees never had that southern nectar in the house. Every day, it was Pam’s responsibility to get dinner started and make the tea. She had a “tea pot”, in which she would boil the water and three large tea bags, then pour it into the designated Tupperware “tea pitcher” with a cup of sugar. Sweet, glorious tea.Around the back corner of the block, where these houses are now, there used to be a ditch of white sand and an open area which led to our elementary school. Every morning I would walk to school with my friend Melanie. Wearing our school dresses, carrying our metal Partridge Family lunch boxes and our two dogs by our side, we would take off down the street. I remember being in 5th grade, our classes were in portable trailers, Melanie, Dipper and Taffy and I walked to school as always. Then about 10:00 that morning our principal asked if I would please walk the dogs home, for they were sleeping outside the the class. So I did. (I’m not sure if that would happen today.)Kobe and I passed this beautiful mess of honeysuckle. Oh the memories of pulling out the stamen and licking the touch of sweet nectar from the end. (Here is a Link that tells you how to collect this nectar….you’re welcome.😊) Which took me to the summer days of running barefoot all day long; going from house to house to jump on neighbors trampolines; packing up a bag lunch to take with us on our daylong bike riding adventures; and creating very detailed storylines with our Barbies. I had a wonderful, happy childhood.As this week went on, the house itself became more comfortable. It became more natural to move around in. The walks with Kobe gave me time to think, pray and listen to God. No, my teenage years were not filled with the happiest memories, but they are my memories. I can choose to dwell on them and make myself miserable or offer forgiveness, not only to those who tore me down or hurt my feelings, but most importantly to myself. I forgave myself for the bad decisions, awkwardness, and ugliness that I allowed. Then accepted the grace that I undeservedly am given. This grace allows me to make mistakes and know that I am loved. Grace is freely given to me because of God’s perfect love. Because of this undeserved love, I can make more beautiful memories.There is joy in sharing the discovery of a nest full of eggs in the geraniums with my mom.Treating my mom to a relaxing and beneficial pedicure.It’s never too late to make new memories. My sisters and brother have created this little garden oasis. This is a perfect spot in the late afternoon to have a sip of wine while watching the garden grow.Our past has a tremendous power over our lives. My mom has allowed events and people’s words said decades ago to continue to influence how she reacts to the world around her. The words and actions from friends and family send her reeling back to anger and self doubt. I, too, have let painful memories shape who I think I am.

When I took my mom to see her doctor this week, he asked her how she was doing. She responded, “You know what? I think this is the happiest I’ve ever felt in my entire life.” After 88 years, she feels happy….choose today to forgive. Choose today to offer grace and accept it too. Choose today to love. Choose today to just be nice, because being nice is always the better answer.

Thank you for dropping by!

Taking Longer to Move the Craft Room

It is taking me longer to move the fabric, paints, papers, scissors, machines, tables, boxes and shelves from the upstairs craft room to the my new craft room in the basement. Ok I admit there is a whole  lot of stuff to go through, but I am being delayed mostly because of finding long lost gems like photos of my kids.Mary Claire is helping decorate one her first Christmas trees. Some pictures made me laugh out loud, like this one of some boy cousins flexing in the summer rain. But then there were many others that brought tears to my eyes. Here are three sweet little children, freshly bathed, teeth brushed, snuggling up with their favorite stuffed animal and blankies, listening to the big sister read a story.Another surprise gem that I found was a box labeled with “Mom’s Treasures” on the outside.  What could be inside? Well, this my millennial child is what us old folks used to listen to music. This is an album. Now, not just any album, but the musical memories of the Spring Valley Viking Band! Oh, how I wish I had a turntable to listen to this!What in the world?!? Well my friend, old Mar here was creative even back in the dark ages of 1982. Yes, this is a toilet. For Art 101 we were given free choice to paper mache’ what ever our little hearts desired. No detail was forgotten. There is tissue on the lid, but looks like the toilet paper needs to be replenished. Oh my goodness, what was I thinking?But I have to admit this big brown book is a real treasure. Honey, I was scrapping before scrapbooking was cool. It is quite the book of history. Who shot J.R.? Who is J.R. You ask? Dallas was one of the most popular that t.v.shows  during the 1980’s and J.R. was one of the main characters, played by Larry Hagman. I have no idea who shot him, but I do remember he deserved it. I don’t think he died. This was back in the day when tv shows would leave you hanging until next week or even the following season. 

On a side note, I’m pretty proud of my smoking gun there. This was before computers, printers and cricut machines. I drew and hand cut that myself. I kept the newspaper clipping of the Space Shuttle Columbia landing. It was extra special because one of the astronauts, Maj. Charles Bolden, came from my hometown of Columbia, S.C.Here are roses I got on my Sweet 16th birthday.Tom Cruise, early in his career was in every teenage girl’s dreams. I wish I knew how much that movie ticket was.According to this history book of mine, I went to many concerts. Looks like here I paid $12.50 to see Van Halen in concert. $12.50!!! To see a band perform live costs $35 and up! I went to see Foreigner, Men at Work, (which by the way, was the worst concert ever), dreamy Rick Springfield, the Go-Go’s and…..ahhhhh….Duran Duran. I spent $13.50 of hard earned babysitting money to see these five sing. A bunch of us had tickets, learned the lyrics to every song, did our research on each member of the band by reading Teen Beat and screamed our lungs out the entire night. I may have even shed a tear when I saw them. Crazy.

Along with ticket stubs and newspaper clippings, I saved the ribbons I won in swimming. 

But the thing that was my life during high school, was the band. During the fall, it was all about the marching band, then in the spring we transitioned to orchestra. I mean, come on! How could you not get excited wearing cool tags and buttons with sayings like “Believe SV and you will Achieve!” Or the one that struck fear in the other bands “All You Other Bands, Move Over, SVH is Coming to Clover!” Whoa! Watch out!Yup! There I am in all my dorky glory, huge glasses and all. In the top photo,I’m showing off all my cool buttons and tags I would wear to show my school spirit. In the bottom photo, I’m totally faking the playing-the-flute thing. I’m not sure why they kept me in the marching band, because I always failed to memorize the music. I could march my little heart out around the football field, but to march and play music was beyond me. Now in my junior and senior years I moved to the color guard spinning my flag and throwing the rifle in the air. These were good times. 

It’s funny how as I look back on these old memories, I see that for the most part, we really don’t change that much, do we? My kids and their cousins are still close, though now, instead of dancing in the rain, they dance at each other’s wedding. Just this past weekend, me, Superman and my three kids gathered together in Charleston to celebrate Christmas and the new year. I watched as the sister and two brothers snuggled up on the couch together just like they did many years before. 

And me, thirty-five years later, am still making and creating. I have stacks of scrapbooks that I have put together to preserve memories. I’m still using my imagination to create things that I pray will bring a little happy into this world.

I guess I better get back to moving materials to the basement. Thanks for dropping by!