Photographic Memory

2012 Mom eating tomato soup

Grilled cheese and tomato soup … One of her favorites

A few days ago my sister posted one of those “On this day” memories that Facebook suggests we look back on every day. It was a photograph that she took March 31, 2012. Her original post included the comment, “Grilled cheese and tomato soup…. One of her favorites.”

My sister’s comment with the reposted memory was: This is what I will always remember :) her favorite lunch!!!!!!! Most Saturdays in the winter, this is what we had :)

I loved seeing this picture of Mom and remembering that favorite lunch. Several of my sister’s friends commented that they grew up eating the same lunch and one said she had been introduced to tomato soup by our mom – but she didn’t like it. :)

This morning I learned from the Today Show that it is National Grilled Cheese Day and then I saw several posts on Facebook reinforcing the significance of the day.

Who knew?

Even the hosts on the Today Show said they needed some tomato soup to go with the grilled cheese sandwiches they were eating in celebration of this great day. Maybe it should be called National Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup Day. Seems more accurate.

I decided the only way to properly honor the day was to have grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch and pause to treasure a memory of Mom. I had to go buy a can of Campbell’s tomato soup in order to do it. A friend suggested I go to La Madeleine and get some of their yummy tomato soup, but that wouldn’t really do. I already knew I was going to cheat by using some sharp cheddar instead of Kraft Singles. I couldn’t break tradition on both counts!

2016 me recreating moms lunchAs I started to prepare my lunch, I had a whim to recreate Mom’s meal as depicted in my sister’s photograph. I got out a placemat, found some crackers to break into my soup, and went outside in the rain to cut two roses.

I see now that I missed a couple of details. I should have cut three roses rather than two. I substituted a Ritz crackers box for the Club crackers box because that’s what I had in the pantry. Now I see that there was an open sleeve of Ritz Crackers on the table and a couple of Ritz crackers on her placemat. I did something right without realizing it while also missing a detail.

The roses are also important to the memory. Dad(Jim) loves roses and planted rose beds every place we lived. He sought out new varieties and shared his abundance with friends who needed a pick-me-up… but he made Mom do the arranging. Mom loved his roses too and so there were always roses on the table and around the house when in season – and the season for roses is long in Louisiana. Unfortunately, it became too difficult for Dad to keep up with his roses when Mom needed so much care and he eventually took them all out.

I posted the photo of my lunch to Facebook with the message, “Bon Appetit, Mom!” (because I’m an oversharing nerd) and went back to perusing my Facebook feed… and what popped up immediately, but an article titled Embrace Loved Ones Who Have Passed to Have a Rich & Fulfilling Present .

I liked this quote from the article: “Absence and presence can coexist. Oddly and wonderfully, engaging with the past, and bringing memories into the present, is what gives us the greatest strength to move forward.”

The author, Allison Gilbert, wrote a book titled Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive. The blurb on her website gives this summary:

Passed and Present is a one-of-a-kind guide for discovering creative and meaningful ways to keep the memory of loved ones alive. Inspiring and empowering, this action-driven “how-to” manual teaches us how to remember those we miss most, no matter how long they’ve been gone.

Passed and Present is not about sadness and grieving — it is about happiness and remembering.  It is possible to look forward, to live a rich and joyful life, while keeping the memory of loved ones alive.

This much-needed, easy-to-use roadmap shares 85 imaginative ways to celebrate and honor family and friends we never want to forget.

Sounds like it is right up my alley.

What are your grilled cheese memories?
Have you recreated a photo from the past?

Happy Fabulous Fifty, Kristie!

Mom and Kristie

Mom and Kristie

I am twelve years older than my sister Kristie, so I thought I’d share the few memories I have about her birth on her birthday.

I was asleep in my bed in Joplin when dad (Jim) woke me up to tell me that he was taking mom to the hospital and that my new brother or sister was on the way. He promised to be back in time for me to get to school the next morning.

It doesn’t seem that it would be a problem to leave your 12-year-old at home in bed on such an occasion, or that said 12-year-old would be left in charge of her two much younger siblings – after all, I was used to taking care of my sisters and was already babysitting other people’s children.

But I spent the entire night awake – at least it seemed like the entire night – working out survival plans should an emergency happen on my watch. The imagined tragedy that I remember playing out most vividly was that there would be a fire. We had a new one-story, three-bedroom house with a front door, a sliding glass back door, and a garage. But what if the fire was in that part of the house and I couldn’t get the three of us out through one of the doors? The bedroom windows were short and wide and I wasn’t very tall. How could I get a preschooler and a toddler safely out of a high window? Could I throw a crib mattress out the window and then toss the girls out, hoping they would land on the mattress? What if the window didn’t open wide enough for the mattress to fit through? If I stood in the baby crib, could I direct their fall onto some pillows? What if one of them got hurt?

What if …?

What if …?

All night long. Over and over. I was a mess by the time morning rolled around.

We made it through the night and there were no fires nor any fatalities. Dad came home in time to report that I had a baby sister and that everyone was fine and that I needed to get ready for school.

I really didn’t want to.

I attended South Junior High and was suffering through a couple of years of social anxiety. It wasn’t long into the school day – probably while I was still in home room and hadn’t even gone to class yet – that I left the classroom, threw up, and found myself lying on the all-too-familiar cot in the nurse’s office. My stay there that day was a combination of a night of worry and lack of sleep and wanting to see my mother and hoping everyone was okay – made worse by knowing there was no one at home to go home to. It was also just a fairly common routine that year: go to school, start feeling anxious, throw up, go to nurse’s office, take temperature, no fever so lie here until you feel better, go back to class.

I don’t have any vivid memories about meeting Kristie for the first time or when she and mom came home from the hospital. :( But I do remember that I considered myself a second mother to Kristie. I spent many hours holding and rocking and feeding and burping and singing to her. Even though I helped with and played with my other sisters, being twelve at the time made this baby different. I felt like an adult and the time I spent caring for Kristie gave me my first inkling that maybe I could be a mother some day – although for the longest time I really wanted to skip the whole mother thing and go straight to grandmother! I also took pride in recording her firsts in her baby book, as Mom was pretty busy with three little ones.

Friends, Karla, Kristie

Friends, Karla, Kristie

Poor Kristie! Her birthday often gets lost in the Thanksgiving Day celebration and then it’s suddenly Christmas.

I found a couple of pictures of a birthday party with one of Mom’s special birthday cakes. It is tagged as 1973 – Kristie’s birthday, although Karla’s sleeveless dress in December makes one wonder. The family was in Texas by then (or was it New Mexico?), so it is entirely possible. I think the panda bear cakes Mom made were usually chocolate. And very cute!

Kristie, Kim, friends

Kristie, Kim, friends

So Happy Birthday Kristie! And thanks a lot for ruining my sleep 50 years ago.

Love you!

Sepia Saturday – Such a Face!

Sep Sat 10-31-2015Gee, I haven’t participated in Sepia Saturday in quite a while! I mean too, but my muddled brain doesn’t always cooperate. But I am here today!

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

Today’s prompt is an image of a vintage Halloween greeting card. I don’t have a greeting card, but I have a couple of pictures that I think complement the theme.

Doris helps Jim HalloweenHere we have a woman standing with her back to us, right hand raised, facing a man dressed in a jacket and wearing a hat. This guy looks pretty grumpy, as does the guy on the card.

A second photo was taken a few minutes later and now we understand that this is a grumpy boy. His hat looks rather juvenile by comparison. Perhaps he grew into a grumpy man.Doris and Jim Halloween costumesThese pictures were taken while my mom and step-dad were dating – so the poem on the greeting card is also a match:

She believed in the mirror’s magic spell;
That of her future husband it would tell.
He must be tall, and good lineage trace:-
But how could he, with such a face.

I recently showed Dad this picture and he said that they went to a costume party and assumed people knew who they were, but after sitting on a couch for some time with no one speaking to them, they realized that no one had any idea who they were.

I think these are pretty great masks! I wonder where they (probably Mom) found them? This was long before the internet after all.

At the time this was taken, Mom and I lived with her parents in Ottumwa, Iowa. I’d never noticed until now that my grandfather’s hat is hanging on the back of the chair on the right.

They made quite a cute couple at Halloween – and on their wedding day!

It’s Halloween, so go trick-or-treating at the doors of other Sepia Saturday participants.