It has been very hard to write lately. Covid is rampant again and we are staying close to home. Christmas is almost here and yet it is hard to get into the spirit. So many people did not stay in over Thanksgiving and now we are seeing the result.
This time has been almost as hard as the two Christmases that my husband was in Vietnam. He loves Christmas but this is not what he’s used to.
We will get through this. Somehow things will have to get better.
I hope that everyone has a safe and wonderful Christmas.
How about a blast from my past? I was remembering when I learned to drive and my first car. My father taught me to drive. He wanted to be sure that I was capable of driving anything that moved (except a motorcycle). Once I had mastered the basics (straight shift no cheating…most cars were not automatic) he took me out and had me drive a 1/2 ton truck. That was an experience.
When I passed my driver’s test he decided to get me a car??? I guess you could call it that. It was a second/third/fourth/ hand Willy’s Jeepster. It had a convertible top, isinglass side windows that you put in after the top was up. It had “air conditioning” (that is the outside air) and no heater.
The seats were bolted to the floor so you couldn’t adjust them. In order for me to reach the pedals..especially the clutch…I had to put a pillow to my back. You can imagine that four or five teenage girls thought this was the bomb. We absolutely loved that car. We drove it in the winter wrapped up in heavy coats, gloves and whatever else we needed to keep warm. We drove through snow and rain. We drove it while wearing swimming suits in the summer with the top down. We flirted with boys in other cars. It was great.
In my senior year of high school the car started to have problems. It wouldn’t always start. It took a while for my father to figure out what was wrong. Those cars had starter buttons in the floor that you pushed down to start the car. For some reason that piece was not connecting with the piece it connected to in the engine. We could push the car to start it popping the clutch (something most of you have never heard of or done). It didn’t take much. Just rolling a little bit would get the car going. The other more interesting option was to open the hood and hold a piece of metal between the starter and the starter connector and like magic we were on our way.
When we went downtown to shop we tried to find a parking place at the end of the block so that if we had to push the car it was easy. I’m sure you can imagine that we met lots of boys that way.
In those days the place to hang out was the Hot Shoppe. It was a drive in place where car hops brought you your food. Tons of friends met there on Friday and Saturday night. No problem getting the car started there.
Later on more problems began to crop up. While stopped at a light at a very busy intersection on a hill I couldn’t get the car started. My father was with me. The light changed and the man behind us kept blowing his horn. My father calmly got out of the car and walked back to the other car. I was worried about what was going on. My father returned and calmly sat down in his seat. I asked him what happened and he said “I told him I would blow his horn if he would start my car!” My father always had the “mot juste.” He was known for it.
Another day at another busy stop light I lifted up on the steering wheel and it came off in my hand. I stuck it back on and drove us all home holding it on.
The final event came when the car began having electrical problems. My father took the car to be rewired and all seemed well. That night we drove the car into town and on one of the main streets smoke started coming out from under the hood. We pulled into a gas station thinking it was overheated and opened the hood. The car was merrily in flames. A gas station attendant rushed out with a fire extinguisher and put out the fire. My father came and picked us up and the car was gone for good.
I have never since had a car that was more fun and more interesting. I am sure I never will.
Thinking back over my almost 80 years there are so many memories of those who were a part of it. Lots of them are gone but they live on in my mind. It is funny the ones you remember and the ones you know must have been there but have no defining moment to think about.
I do remember some of my teachers particularly from High School and College. The ones I remember the most were the ones who were real characters. That is probably why they stuck in my mind. I remember a Latin teacher whose looks and demeanor were perfect for the part. She was petite, wore dark rimmed glasses, had grey hair and was really tough on us.
Another was a history teacher who made me love history. He gave us a assignment that was 100 questions. It was not something you spent time writing but researching. The questions were obscure and finding out the answers was difficult. You got a grade depending on how many you got right. One of the questions was “What is this ***** ? Yes, it was just 5 asterisks. It was a pseudonym for a writer whose name is lost to memory but I got it! His whole point was you could find anything if you knew how to research.
A college professor was named (by us) “paperback Bednar” because he didn’t have us buy a text but lots of paperbacks. He taught Philosophy of History one of the more interesting classes I took.
Another had student evenings at his home for discussion on anything including religion. He was a student of C.S. Lewis and shared much about him. He also wrote a book telling about his wife, his great love of her and her loss called “A Severe Mercy.” I still find people who knew about him and have read his book. His name was Sheldon Van Auken.
These people made an impact on my life. There are many more and I will be thinking about them from time to time.
It is funny the things we remember and the things we don’t. A while back I went to a conference about how we remember things. The speaker, from Emory University, has been doing a study on how accurate our memories are. The study is more complex than just that but this is a big part of it.
They got information from people following a major life event right after it happened and then again a year later. It was amazing how different the accounts were. We can also believe that we have a memory of something that we actually didn’t experience. If we have heard about the event often enough we incorporate it as a memory.
On the opposite side we forget so many things. I have had people come up to me and tell me a whole incident where I helped them in some way and not only do I not remember the event but I don’t remember them. Our memory is a very chancy thing. It is not as accurate as we think.
However, there are some memories, that we will never ever forget. Those are the ones that are so important to us. I will never forget my marriage or the birth of my children. There are other memories that bring me joy and comfort. I am glad I have those.
In my youth I envisioned the future as a wonderful place, Peace, flying cars, visiting space. That idea is gone. Have the changes made a better world or one more frightening, more dangerous, more ominous? My memories make it seem that way. When will we ever learn what really matters?
My past is a dream A memory A life of summer days Poodle skirts Bobby socks
We did Hide under desks With fear of A bomb And built Air raid shelters
That did not Dim our hope Our dreams Of a better world Free from fear
Time moved on Electronics, VHS, DVD’s Computers, internet Instant everything A better world?
Strange My memory world Seems happier Less fearful More hopeful
The better world Vision lost More war More sickness More hatred
Today has been hard. The isolation has finally hit us both. My husband really wanted to go out for lunch but not possible.
Yesterday I talked about living (as a child) through WW2. My husband’s experience was much more noteworthy than mine. He was four years old living in Hawaii behind Diamond head in army quarters when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He remembers waking to lots of planes flying overhead. He got up and told his father who told him it was people training and go back to bed. A few moments later his father was called about the bombing. His father was in charge of the Coast Artillery that was actually in the volcano.
My husband, his mother and sister, lived in a bomb shelter in the yard that day expecting the bombers to come back. Later they moved into the volcano and stayed there for several weeks before being evacuated to the states. The ship that took them to the west coast went back for more people but was bombed and sank before getting there.
His memories are much scarier than mine and clearer. After all, being bombed is enough to sit in the memory for quite a while. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live where that is a threat every day.
This crisis is bad. It is testing our will just as WW2 did. I hope that we can pull together as we did then to get past this enemy. I hope it will unite much of the world to the real threat….the distress of the environment which may be why these viruses are gaining hold. I don’t know that… I just wonder.
As a nurse there is one thing that I have learned well….not everything can be fixed. Often people grow up with the idea that there is nothing that can’t be solved in some way. Working in the hospital it is evident that things go wrong, people die, life is not perfect.
We live in a world where we expect everything to be fixed. Get a headache take a pill. Go to the doctor..get a diagnosis..get fixed. We don’t want to wait for anything. We want everything to be done at once.
Because of that this time is a real eye opener for some. I can’t go to the store and expect to find everything I need. I can’t hop in my car and go out to a restaurant. Everything I want is not available. What a shock.
I was born a year before Pearl Harbor. I don’t remember much about the war as I was very young but I do remember rationing. You couldn’t get everything you wanted. Gas was limited so you couldn’t go where you wanted all the time. We mostly stayed home. My father was working on the pentagon (construction contractor) and was exempt from going to war. This grieved him and he tried several times to go but to no avail.
My parents built a house shortly before the war began. They had extra rooms and took in war wives whose husband were overseas. They lived with us throughout the war. That was the environment I grew in. We were comfortable but certainly weren’t able to choose the life we wanted to live. I was blessed with a sense of extended family and lots of love but we lived in frightening times. Even as a small child I could sense that angst.
This time reminds me of those days. Something from my distant memory pulls feelings from the past. Those feelings are attached to the way things are now. Just like that time we can’t fix it. We just have to wait it out and live with whatever comes afterward.
Remember…patience, patience and waiting. It can’t be fixed but it can be endured and lived beyond.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
― Julian of Norwich
The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves, they find their own order…the continuous thread of revelation. Eudora Welty
Our lives move forward on a continuum. Events happen every day. Some events are memorable and some are not. I have always found it interesting the things we have stored away and can recall and the things we can’t. Our memories are selective. Our brains store information….probably everything we ever did but most of it cannot be recalled.
I have been asked about my earliest memory. I have a memory but it is not really clear. I am standing in a crib in my mother and father’s room. That is all there is. There is no context…nothing more than that. I don’t know why I have that memory. It seems to have no significance but there it is.
Of course we remember traumatic events or days of special happiness but we don’t always remember the specifics and our memories will usually not match those of others who were there.
It is also interesting how memories can be triggered by other senses. A certain smell can cause recall. I grew up in Virginia and my family had large privet hedges around the back yard. When I smell privet it brings back memories of that place.
Music can remind us of a particular time that we heard it. We also experience the feelings associated with those memories. This can be a good thing but in the case of persons who have had a trauma it can bring it all back full force. That is what happens to those with PTSD. The memory comes with all the feelings of fear and horror.
How our brain keeps memories and which ones come to light is not fully known but more is learned each day.
My husband loves Christmas. He can’t wait until the tree is up and the decorations out. He bought the tree while I was in the hospital but had it delivered after I came home. It is now up and decorated. (which he did) I am good but still some tired.
I managed to get enough energy to do some of the other decorations and things look pretty nice. We have pared down some over the years and don’t over do.
If we strictly followed our church’s thought we would not put up decorations until Christmas Eve and keep them up for the 12 days of Christmas ending on Epiphany. When I was a child my father and I would walk into the woods and cut a tree on Christmas Eve. That was such an exciting time for me. Just spending time with my father doing something special was enough. I remember it with such fond memories.
I hope we were able to give those kind of memories to our own children. These are things that can’t be duplicated. Expensive gifts are nothing compared to time spent with parents. It is so wonderful when we spend time with our own children playing, what I call, “remember when….the time the dog opened most of the presents under the tree during the night??” Those are the things that last.
I ran across this quote recently and it brought up some memories.
I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.
L. M. Montgomery
For a while we lived in Panama. It was June there all year round. The only changes were the difference between the we season and the dry season. There was very little difference in temperature. We lived in military housing that was built many years ago of concrete. The buildings were raised up on concrete posts so that the main floor was on the second floor. I am assuming they did this to get it away from the many creatures that lived there. There was a maid’s room on the ground floor. ( didn’t have a full time maid) and underneath the house is where we hung our clothes to dry. (I’m sure no one remembers doing that) During the rainy season the clothes didn’t dry for days so that is when we first bought a dryer.
The houses had louvered windows and screens. Most of the people who lived there put plastic over the windows, heavy draperies and installed window air conditioners. That worked pretty well. The only problem was that since the wall were concrete you couldn’t hang pictures except with stick-on picture hangers. (not the good ones we have today) The power went out frequently and if it was out for long the walls began to sweat and all the pictures fell off the walls.
I will write some more about this adventure later but I do want to say that I grew tired of wearing the same clothes all year around. I am afraid I like at least some semblance of season change.