A three-day winter storm, snowed in, time on my hands...shelves of photo albums with pictures, jumbled, scattered, in need of organization! Cups of coffee, colored pencils, Kleenex for tears of laughter and sadness, a nosy dog, plenty of room on the floor to spread it all out and I have begun...a slideshow, a treasure hunt, if you will, for special moments that have changed and defined my life...
Starting Place 5
Innocents Abroad 13
The American Dream 3
3Best Laid Plans 48
The Second Potato 55
â€śThe Last of Life...â€ť 62
Celtic Quest 65
My Oyster 77
Lâ€™ envoiÂ Â Â ... Before I knew 86
Scattered on bookshelves throughout my house are photo albums. With a few exceptions they are almost all alike. The colors are different, blue, green, maroon, brown, even two bright red ones, but they all have that thin gold stripe across their faux leather bindings. Each one holds approximately 100 to about 130 pictures. Surprisingly, there are 41 of them! I counted just the other day. Twenty-six albums are pretty much combination photo and scrapbook and are of my travels, my trips abroad. The other fifteen encompass my life, starting about 1906 with a few pages of my father's and mother's lives (they were born respectively in 1890 and 1894, I, in 1928) and ending approximately, yesterday.
A few years ago we had a really big winter snow storm. I was stuck in the house for a few days and looking for something to relieve the boredom my eyes fell upon those intriguing albums. Remembering all the times trying to find specific pictures, being reduced to tears of frustration, I made a great decision. It took all those snow-bound days and many more in order to make a Table of Contents for each album. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by albums, pictures, countless notes, roughly drafted time-lines, cups of coffee, fending off my curious dog who persisted upon sitting in the middle of the pile I was working on I soldiered on!
It was quite wonderful reliving all those years through the pictures and I would frequently stop and muse and recall and enjoy all over again some special moments. Laughing out loud at times, getting a bit shivery at scary moments, even shedding some tears, I began to fill in the gaps between the pictures. Sitting there, surrounded, almost engulfed by my memories I was actually experiencing a â€śmemoirâ€ť of my life. There was a feeling of owning all those unique and special moments, wearing them like a warm soft robe. The smell of coffee, rustling of papers, the tightness of my crossed legs, the dog's wet nose nudging me all stayed with me, alive and real. Why was that? What was the message here? Like the Princess and the Pea the memories made me toss and turn at night! The answer came when the opportunity and encouragment arose to write down the "snapshots" of my life, to explore again, journey back, find those compelling moments and this time to write them down.
I will have to choose, there are so many things to say. I have had a relatively small life but a full, rich and an oh-so-lucky one within it's given boundaries. I have stretched and pushed against those limits many times! There is a passage in Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet about love being a threshing floor where the chaff is separated from the grain and blown away. ...if you would seek only love's pleasure and none of love's pain...pass out from the threshing floor into the seasonless world, where you will laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Change "love" to "life" and this seems to me to be the greatest tragedy. I have endeavored, all my life to savor, to taste, to experience as much as possible of what was on offer. I will write, then, of pivotal moments, some of great joy and others of sadness and loss and some just of each day as it happened but always where I was totally involved. Come with me into my seasoned world, laugh with me or cry or just feel the wonder of every day. Our path? I turn gratefully to those oh-so-organized albums.
I reach for Volume Oneâ€¦
A TREASURE HUNT is so delightfully written and your life so filled with love that I wasn'tÂ sure what I envied most. Rather than read it in one sitting I've chosen to snack on it. EachÂ segment is as nutritious and fun as the last, not an easy feat for any writer. Everything flows soÂ nicely, so coherently and with so much love for your life and for those around you.
I am 87 years old, living activily in Cape May Court House, New
Jersey. I have done very little writing in my life---"What I Did on
Summer Vacation," book reports, term papers, some poetry-but
little else. When I joined a "Writing Memoirs" class in my local
library, I was delighted to discover that I actually could write and
that I enjoyed it thoroughly! Recapturing, reliving these moments
in a long and exciting life has given me a fuller, deeper understanding
of myself and the people who have journeyed with me.
I am so grateful.