Last weekend, I fixed a cup of tea while my youngest granddaughter told me about her week. “What have you been doing lately, Grandma Linda?” she asked.
“Well,” I said as I repeatedly dunked my tea bag with a spoon, “lately I seem to just spend a lot of time here at home. Some days, I don’t even go outside.”
She looked into the candy dish, turned, and smiled at me. “You know, Grandma Linda, this house holds a lot of happy memories for you.”
I looked up from my steaming cup of tea and said, “You are so right. It is full of happy memories.”
This is the house that Jim and I built—and I mean that literally. I’m talking countless hours of lifting two by fours, hammering nails, laughing and arguing about where the walls should be, how many outlets each room needed, where to put phone jacks, how to cover up a boo-boo. Talk about a house built with love. We didn’t have much money or a big bank account, just a dream that we could build our own home if we made enough sacrifices. We borrowed as little as possible and managed to have the house completely paid off shortly after we finished building it.
Of course, it took several years to build the house, but as soon as we moved in, happy memories were in the making. Our sons were nearly grown by that time so it wasn’t long before they married and started their own families giving Grandpa Jim and I more family to love.
Now, Jim is gone and lives only in our memories. I recently retired, and I’m taking well to my new lifestyle. Although I may not make it out the door every day, I always find much to do and my life is still full and busy.
After jumping out of bed bright and early yesterday for some Alzheimer’s volunteer work in town, I was back to my new routine this morning. I woke up at 8:00 and finished the novel I was reading. I couldn’t seem to stop reading the intriguing story of family secrets, loss, and learning to live again. I guess I could relate to the importance of breaking away from sad thoughts and finding a pathway beyond past heartaches or failures to a new future. Different, yes, but still something to fill my heart with joy.
I took time to read the paper this morning—not the usual headline skimming method I usually use. Normally, I do not read obituaries if I don’t recognize the names. I just move on to something else. This morning, I took time to read the two obituaries printed in our small town paper. These were people who lived and left their imprint on the hearts of their families, and I just felt a compulsion to read their stories.
Finis “Ed” Sumpter, 76, was a decorated Air Force veteran. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was awarded the bronze star. He retired after twenty years with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Then, I read 91 year old Mary Cauvel’s story. She had been an aircraft electronics assembler for North American Aeronautics and worked on the Apollo Program in the mid-sixties. Here were two people whose stories I would have missed completely if I hadn’t taken a moment to read the brief summary of their lives. Can you imagine the hardships they overcame in their lifetimes so they could build happy memories of people, places, and events?
Life should be full of happy memories, and the trick is to focus on those life moments. Long after houses and people are gone, traces of happy memories live on and on in our hearts.
copyright January 2014 by L. S. Fisher