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?

Treasure Chest Thursday – Halloween Decorating with Mom

I haven’t really decorated for Halloween the past couple of years. DH would bring home a pumpkin for me and that was about the extent of it. This year, I decided to get the decorations out and get in the spirit of the holiday for a change.

As you may know, my mom passed away the end of August from Alzheimer’s Disease. When I got out the Halloween decorations, I realized I’d forgotten that several of our decorations are the result of Mom’s crafting. It was fun to see the things she made or that she helped the kids make and place them around the house. Here are two pots she made with my kids.
Halloween potsI usually stick a candle in them and fill with candy corn … which I have to refill a little each day even though the kids have moved out of the house. Yes, dear, I’m talking about you!
table setting

When A was over the other evening, I pointed out the decorations she made with her grandmother. She remembers going to the store to buy the flowerpots with her and said, “We made a lot of things with pots!” Yes, indeed, Mom did a lot of crafting with flower pots. Here’s another one A made with Mom’s help:
2015-10-30 00.08.14The witch’s hat used to be black, but has faded with time. She’s pretty cute, though.

Mitu and Kathy copy crop

Me as Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Yesterday we had our little Halloween celebration for the adult ESL class where I teach. Several of the teachers dressed in costume – and I was one of them. As I put my costume together, I found myself smiling, remembering Mom’s willingness – make that all-in enthusiasm, when something at TOPS or work or some other group she belonged to had a reason to dress up in costume. I think of her as having no fear of being a bit silly for the cause – whatever it was.

I saw the meme below on Facebook this week:
Mom sayingMom feels so far away, and yet, here she is. She is the map I follow.

With occasional detours and alternate routes.

Our Sweet Mom is at Rest

2015.09.04 Funeral cover

It was a long good-bye, as Alzheimer’s Disease made its steady march, chipping away at memories and function. I really don’t know what to say today, so I will simply mark Mom’s passing with some details from the memorial service.

2015.09.04 Funeral inside

2015.09.04 Funeral back

The service was just as it needed to be. A talented young man, Aaron Rogers, who is studying to be a music director, sang the solos – Amazing Grace and Going Home. As many people with dementia do, Mom spoke often of her desire to “go home,” so Dad chose this beautiful song especially for her.

Here is a link to the eulogy, should you wish to read it. We are thankful that my sister’s pastor, the Reverend David Roberts, was available to lead the service. Although he never met my mother, he spent time talking with Dad and seemed to get a genuine feel for many of the qualities that make mom so special to us.

2015.09.04.Eulogy

It is hard to say good-bye to a mother, wife, and sister, but we are at peace because she is at peace after a long and brutal disease.