Archive for September, 2009

Keeping Diaries

Written memories
Written memories


I realize that keeping a blog is like keeping a diary.  The big difference is there could be many people reading your blog so you want to be careful of what you say. 

I’ve kept a diary since I was 10.  I can remember my mom opening one of her dresser drawers and there sat a little black book with the year 1965 printed on it.  I opened it and saw where it was dated daily – but with blank pages.  I looked at my mother and asked her, “Where are the words?”  She explained that it was a book in which you write about your thoughts, feelings or happenings every day.  I immediately fell in love with it.  

To read back over my first diary is a comic event all by itself.  I not only used words, I drew pictures to describe the day.  I have pictures of me in pigtails climbing trees.  Pictures of birds I’d seen that day.  Mostly in pencil and slowly fading away, but you can still read it.  There is two weeks worth of writing and lamenting over a dead dog lying on the side of the road that my brother and I had to pass every morning walking to school.  We couldn’t figure out why no one came and got it and buried it.  I have a drawing of it eventually rotting and worms crawling on it.  A pretty good drawing at that!  Left no doubt as to what it was.  

Then when you get into the years where I start noticing boys, the diaries become very strange.  One day it’s this boy, the next day it’s that boy.  I was in love with a different boy every week.  The page of my first kiss is very touching.  It was a boy in Miami and we were both too scared to kiss.  We needed courage.  My little brother (who is watching all of this with contempt because God knows he’d already kissed a dozen girls by this time and I’m still trying to kiss my first boy) says, “I know what you need!!  You need bread!  Bread gives you courage!”  Off he ran to the house to get two pieces of white bread which Gordy and I both ate and sure enough, it gave us courage!  We were in the swimming pool, we both slid under water and pressed our lips together!  Our first kiss!

Needless to say, it became a whole lot easier after that.  Uh huh.

Those teenage years.  Now who wouldn’t want to remember those years?  I have them all written out in sometimes, vivid, detail.  My first EVERYTHING.  I read back and think, “Why in heck did I write all that?!”  It’s no wonder I spent every waking moment trying to find a place to hide the darned things!  Oh, that was so much fun.  NOT.  It seemed no matter where I hid them, one of my older brothers would find them.  And then not only find them, but run to the bathroom and start shouting out to everyone what I’d written!   I would be so mortified and upset and I would stand on the other side of the door and scream and shout and finally be reduced to tears and begging.  I have to say my Gram wasn’t a lot of help.  She’d stand there a few minutes and listen to all of it and after a bit she would lay down the law and make whoever it was give me my diary back.  It didn’t matter if the diary came with a lock, one year my brother  just snipped the leather clasp with scissors and rendered the key useless.  I don’t think he really WANTED to be mean, he just could be sometimes. 

 My little brother wasn’t quite so bad.  He would discover where they were and instead of teasing me, he’d just share them with his friends when they came over and I was gone somewhere.  Then when I’d see them again I’d get all these looks and giggles behind my back.  Oh yeah, finding a place to keep these babies became a real art, I have to tell you.

 Sometimes reading them brings me sadness, sometimes joy, sometimes disbelief that I’d ever felt that way, been through that, done or said that thing.  There are births, deaths, marriages, divorces.  Maybe not everyone’s, but at least those I was closest to at the time of writing.  There are forty-five years of me in those books that I’m not so sure I want anyone to read when I’m gone.

 A friend told me once, after she’d lost her husband, “Don’t write anything that may hurt someone who reads it after you’re gone.”  I don’t know if that had happened to her, perhaps she’d read something her husband wrote that hurt her; I didn’t ask.  I knew it was too late anyway.  I have written when I’m angry, sad, depressed and happy as hell.  I’ve gone back and even torn out pages.  Now, when I write, I know I should write about the good things that are happening, not the bad.  I find my books extremely boring because they’re all about ME.  I mean, I already KNOW all that stuff in there.  A few family members or friends have said, “Leave them to me when you’re gone.”  I know they mean well, I do, but  I have selected someone to take them – someone who doesn’t live here in town, someone who may not judge me too harshly since she didn’t grow up around me, and someone I trust to take care of them.  Plus, she is family.   

I wish I could put them in a time capsule that no one could open for fifty years.  Wouldn’t that be cool?  Fifty years from now some great, great, great someone could open the capsule and wonder who in the heck I was!  Throw pictures in with the books of everyone I know and love.  It would take a cemetery plot to hold it all!

Hey!  I happen to have one of those!  Anyone up for some nighttime grave digging? You know how I love cemeteries…




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I miss my mom


The other day I was sitting in the dermatologist’s office – being a Baby Boomer living in Florida, I get myself checked out once a year.   I’ve not only burned myself a million times, my mom burned me up very bad when we first moved to Florida from Maine.  There were all those Coppertone Baby highway posters of that little blonde girl with the doggy pulling down the back of her bathingsuit bottom that was just so cute!  Well, I was little and blonde and she wanted me to look like her.  All brown with a white butt.  She took us all to the beach and back then, sunscreen was not available on the CVS shelves like they are now.  Heck, no one was getting melanoma!  At least, it wasn’t being advertised!  I played in the sun all day and got burned and very sick; so much so that she had to take me to the doctor, who gave her grief about letting me get so sunburned.  Now…I go to the dermatologist religiously.   

Anyway, I’m sitting in the office and I’m waiting my turn along with these two other people.  They were older than me by far, probably in their seventies.  They’re sitting in their chairs discussing the magazine they are reading.  He gets up to go use the bathroom.  The assistant comes out and calls his name and the wife says, “He is using the bathroom.”  He eventually comes out and she tells him they are looking for him.  He goes to the counter and says he is back and they ask his last name and he looks at his wife and says, “What is our last name?”  She tells him, he tells the assistant, and back to the good doctor he goes. 

I’m sitting there absorbing this.  I realize that this is where we go when we get old, IF we’re lucky enough to stay together to get to this point.  

The thing I notice most is how the old woman smells.  She’s an attractive enough old woman, we should all be so lucky to look like her in our 70’s.  SHE SMELLS LIKE MY MOM.  She is wearing Estee Lauder’s ‘Youth Dew’ and I badly want to get up and sit closer to her.  I want to hug this woman and tell her I love her.  This has happened to me so many times.  I can be in a grocery store and catch that scent and I will track it down to see who is wearing it.  Once it was an older black woman ahead of me in the aisle picking out meats.  I know that I stared at her enough to make her look at me and how can I explain that I smell my mom and you make me think of her?  Please may I hug you? 

At the doctor’s office though, I’m flipping thru my magazine…I’m breathing in deep so that I can smell my mom and I close my eyes and I think of her and it makes me feel really good…this scent.  I can feel my mom next to me and wonder if it is God’s way of letting me know that my mom is thinking of me.  My mom whose body is six feet under, but her spirit and her soul are with me. 

When Mom died and we all had to go through her belongings and dispose, share, give away all her things – the one thing I knew for sure that I was going to keep was her powder box of Youth Dew.  I still have it in my top drawer.  I took one of her blue silk blouses and put it in my cedar chest and I dusted the blouse with the powder and wrapped it in blue paper to preserve it. 

To this day, when I really am missing my Mom, I will open the chest, pull out the blouse and smell my Mom.  If the scent gets weak, I dust it more with the powder. 

My brother Lester is the same way.  He also thinks of her when he catches that fragrance on someone.  He said once, right after she’d died, that he was lying in bed and thought he heard her footsteps going down the hall  to the bathroom.  I don’t know what he wanted me to say, but I said, “Maybe she needed to pee?” and we both fell out laughing.  We chuckle about it in a sad way, but both of us make each other feel better talking about her. 

That is how God lets us know that Mom is still here, she is still our Mom, and I’ll bet you that she still carries that scent with her in Heaven. 

It is very, very hard to lose the one person who thought you hung the moon, could do no wrong, and believed you to be the best thing ever created.  She thought that of all her children. 

I miss you Mom.  WE miss you.  And we will see each other again.  Isn’t that just the most wonderful thing the Lord has given us??  WE WILL MEET AGAIN.

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