Saturday, March 23, 2013

Memory and Possession

I'm working my way, however slowly, through Family Ephemera that was entrusted to me as we emptied our parents' home. Much of what I have surrounding me in my home office are things of no particular interest to anyone (including me!), but which, taken as a whole, provide some new insights into folks gone on ahead.

This morning, I have turned my attention to a rather impressive box filled with my Nannaw's journals. I started by turning through them page by page. I had to abandon this practice when it became clear I'd be glued to my chair all day, so I began just flipping through at random, considering as gifts some of the things she thought important enough to record.

I have discovered, and been reminded of, so many things about her. Her note-making bordered on the compulsive. Not a year went by that she didn't elaborate on dates of particular significance to her: her parent's birthdays, her own anniversary even decades after my Grandpappy had died, annually noting "Oh, my."  The anniversaries of their deaths--and that of many others whom she knew, loved, and lost--were always noted, as well.

For nearly a year the biggest ongoing crisis in her life was finding a hairdresser to replace Mr. Olds when he retired. From this effrontery she never fully recovered.

She followed sports, particularly horse racing, SEC football, and baseball, with particular passion. I have no explanation for her fascination with President Reagan's bowel surgery, and was surprised by the enthusiasm she expressed for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's speech at the 1976 Democratic Convention. She did not care, particularly, for Geraldine Ferraro.

About her grandchildren and great-grandchildren she said very little, although she certainly kept close tabs on us all. I did find reference to her having attended my piano recital in 1973, with which she seemed to have been impressed.

More telling than any diary entry at all were the things she clipped from newspapers and magazines, and tucked away, sometimes with the help of a paper clip, sometimes taped to the day on which she must have run across it.

You can tell a lot about a person by the things they clip and underscore and save.

I found this poem, written on the back of a ledger entry. I did a bit of Googling, and actually happened upon the very newspaper column from which she copied it. Astounding, this merge of old handwritten notes and modern technologies. This appeared on October 13, 1970, in Phil Kelly's syndicated column, Growing Old Rebelliously

The Memories of Things Precious
by Jean Ingelow

The Memory of things precious keepeth warm
The heart that once did hold them. They are poor
That have lost nothing: they are poorer far
Who losing, have forgotten; they most poor
Of all, who lose and wish they might forget. 
For life is one and in its warp and woof
There runs a thread of gold that glitters fair
And sometimes in the patterns shows more sweet
Where there are sombre colors. It is true
That we have wept, but, O, this thread of gold,
We could not have it tarnish; let us turn
Oft and look back upon the wondrous web
And when it shineth sometimes we shall know
That memory is possession.



  1. This is lovely. In perhaps the same vein, permit me to add this poem and say that you must be my sister. I also sent this to my daughter, grand daughter, and one other---my other sisters. The list keeps growing somehow.:)

    My Sister Is...

    My sister is my heart,
    She opens doors to rooms
    I never knew were there,
    Breaks through walls
    I don't recall building.
    She lights my darkest corners
    With the sparkle in her eyes.

    My sister is my soul.
    She inspires my wearied spirit
    To fly on wings of angels,
    But while I hold her hand
    My feet never leave the ground.
    She stills my deepest fears
    With the wisdom of her song.

    My sister is my past.
    She writes my history.
    In her eyes, I recognize myself;
    I have memories only we can share.
    She remembers, she forgives,
    And she accepts me as I am--
    With tender understanding.

    My sister is my future.
    She lives within my dreams.
    She sees my undiscovered secrets,
    Believes in me as I stumble.
    She walks in step with me,
    Her love lighting my way.

    My sister is my strength.
    She hears the whispered prayers
    That I cannot speak.
    She helps me find my smile,
    Freely giving hers away.
    She catches my tears
    In her gentle hands.

    My sister is like no one else.
    She's my most treasured friend--
    Filling up the empty spaces,
    Healing broken places.
    She is my rock, my inspiration,
    Though impossible to define,
    In a word, she is... my sister.

    ~Lisa Lorden

  2. Thank y'all for the kind comments. I would love to know who you are, tsisa.

  3. Oh, sorry, Eleanor. I'm just your favorite stalker. KIDDING!!!

    I'm a happy customer from way back who happens to think you're awesome.

  4. I would also like to share this with you, the next-best-thing to being there. lol

  5. Please tell me who you are! I love the poem, and it touches me deeply that you went to the trouble to leave both it and your very kind words. If you want to remain anonymous here please message me on FB if you can. Usually anonymous comments are just nice and I'm happy to leave them at that, but yours today just struck me as particularly lovely, and meant a great deal to me.

  6. We cross-posted and so I just now saw the amazing video. As soon as my heart finds it way back from out of my throat, I know that must be a clue, but my brain is just NOT WORKING.

  7. My granddaughter and I came into your place of establishment the other day and we had a lovely chat. Many years of lovely chats takes its toll on a sister. lol I think I finally realized, because of you, the deep history of the circle. I'm seeing the light! lol

  8. Wait... I actually had two such visitors in the past week.... was your granddaughter the beautiful (and bored!) redhead? And how did you find my blog?

  9. ...and so, I found this:

  10. Shoot Heck! I've been following your blog for a good bit now. Cross-posting---oops!

  11. Oops, again. Yes, the bored redhead. I thought she was being pretty good about being not seen nor heard (Please correct my grammar!) while the grown-ups were talking. I bet she learned a lot. lol

  12. We cross-posted and so I just now saw the amazing video. As soon as my heart finds it way back from out of my throat, I know that must be a clue, but my brain is just NOT WORKING.

    No, honestly, no clue. I just thought you would love it like I do, is all.

  13. Who knew that a *murmuration* had such power?

    1. You well and truly made my day yesterday. Thank you again!