Life is a fleeting thing. Even more so are the pleasant occasions and events we experience in life. As they say, what is here today is gone tomorrow. We often think tomorrow will never come, but what was tomorrow too quickly becomes today. And with the arrival of today, the pleasant occasions and events we experienced become just memories.
So it is with my life, as I’m sure it is with yours. In thinking back over my life, I can recall so many pleasant times, times I wish I could live over again. But alas, I can’t. As the tune goes, “The song has ended, but the memories linger on”. So, what follows is simply a few of my favorite memories. You probably have your own special, similar memories. I guess this is one musing I am writing more for my own enjoyment, so bear with me. If you prefer, you can bail out now.
My aunt, who was my mother’s sister and interesting enough was six months younger than me, always referred to me as “our John”. It was never my John or him; it was always “our John”. It was a term of endearment that others in the family used in referring to me. I liked it. I liked the idea that I was somehow special to everyone in the family. My aunt has been dead for several years now. I wish I could hear her call me “our John” one more time.
The memories of my Mom go on and on, but there was one that in looking back was quite funny. My Mom started smoking in her late 50s. She always said the doctor suggested she should do it. I still can remember her in her 80s lighting up a cigarette on the porch of the apartment at the ALF when I visited her. It was one of the small pleasures she had late in life. In truth I think she started smoking to replace her addiction to Coke and 3 Musketeers candy bars. At the time I used to chide her for her habits but now I simply smile in remembrance and wish I could see her light up just one more time.
I can still recall Sunday dinners at my Grandmothers, my mother’s mother. It wasn’t that large a crowd. Typically it consisted of my grand-parents, my parents, my two uncles, one aunt and me. I don’t recall what was said or specifically what was served, but the food was always good and the love that permeated those dinners made it all extra special.
My Uncle Al, my mother’s brother, seemed to me to be a musician extraordinaire whether with the piano or mandolin. I recognize now that he was proficient with neither. He said he secret with playing the piano was that he picked out the melody with his right hand and used his left hand to hit a key now and then. His favorite song was “Down Among The Sheltering Palms”. Little did I know I would be living among those sheltering palms. I wish he could join me for a day here in Florida among the sheltering palms so we could talk about life under the sheltering palms.
My Dad and I use to play golf on those occasions when I was home visiting. We played on a local course that was carved from someone’s cow pasture. It mattered little since neither of us played that well. What was important is that we got to spend some time together. I can’t recall what we talked about, but that wasn’t important. What was important is that we were, as adults, able to spend a few hours together. I wish I could play one more round with Dad. He’d need not fear; my game hasn’t improved any.
I always enjoyed listening to my Uncle Bill, my mother’s brother, explain how to bake a cake or his fantastic chocolate pie. He was a first class baker who worked for many years in a local bakery. I still can see his hands moving as he explained how to handle pie dough. It always reminded me of the maestro conducting a symphony orchestra.
I use to marvel at my other grandmother, my Dad’s mother, making her breakfast. We lived in an apartment above her for several years when I was young, so I saw her daily. Perhaps what and how she made and ate breakfast was because she came from Sicily or maybe it had to do with her lack of teeth. In any case, she’d first make coffee by tossing a handful of coffee grounds in to a pot of water and letting it boil until it could get no darker. She’d then strain the coffee in to a bowl and add sugar and milk. Finally, she’d the take some of her homemade bread that was a few day old and hard, break it into the coffee, let it soak then eat it. For some reason I always enjoyed watching her munch on that caffeine laden breakfast. I have that same breakfast as a treat now and then, sans boiled coffee.
My Dad’s sister, Felicia aka Aunt Phil, was a hearty woman who, among other things, use to head up into the low mountains a few miles from our home. The purpose was to pick mushrooms. On several occasions she took me along. She knew her mushrooms – knew where to find them and which ones were edible. She always told me the “pinkies” were the best. She’d often direct me to a fallen tree or some other perfect place to find those mushrooms. I wish we could journey into those hills one more time, both for the companionship and also to collect those fresh mushrooms. Since I cook now, I’d especially enjoy them.
As I said, the memories go on and on but for now, these will suffice. They were some of the pleasant memories of people long gone that I wish I could relive. No doubt you have yours. For those younger than me, fear not. You may not realize it but you are collecting yours now. You will be able to enjoy them several years down the road.