Tag Archives: Memories

Remembering Mom by Dellani Oakes

Mom and me September 14 2014

My mother was a woman’s libber before the term became popular. She was independent, self-assured and the most fearless person I know. She turned 96 on Monday. Her vision has faded, her hearing lessened, her mind is going. She’s been in a wheelchair for the last four years, due to a re-break of her hip that didn’t heal properly. To see her now, you’d never know that she used to drive around the country doing speeches about a small Appalachian settlement school in Kentucky. Back in the 40s, there were no interstate highways, no cellphones and no GPS. She was on her own, with only her map and her fantastic sense of direction to guide her.

Mom married very late in life. By society’s standards, she was an old maid—36 when she wed, 38 when she had my sister, 40 when she had me. She gave us a childhood that was full of exciting experiences, chock full of great books, educational trips and just plain fun.

By the time I was 9, we had lived in Tennessee, Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas and Nebraska. Everywhere we lived, we visited spots of historical significance. When in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we visited The Old North Church, Paul Revere’s house, Longfellow House…. We drove up to the bridge at Lexington and Concord and saw the Cannonball House and the Minuteman statue. We made a trip up to Bar Harbor and rode a ferry across. We had our pictures drawn by a lady on the ferryboat. I look like I’m about to be shot. My sister’s is much better.

Every summer, we made a drive from our home in Nebraska, back to visit our cousins and grandmothers. Mom’s family lived in Ohio, my dad’s in Tennessee. Along the way, we visited friends or, once in awhile, spent the night in motels. Sometimes, we stopped in spots we’d read about in books: Hannibal, Missouri where we visited Mark Twain’s house. Also, one of Laura Ingall’s Wilder’s homes there.

I’ve gone on a lot about our trips, mainly because it shows a lot about how my mother thought and planned. She would study maps until she had them memorized—or so it seemed to me. She remained unflappable when we had the occasional flat tire or radiator overheated. It seemed we always had our car trouble in the best spots, where help arrived in the best possible way. When I traveled with my mother, I was never afraid. She always was so confident, so sure she would never get lost. Oh, we got turned around from time to time, but she would say, “I may not know where I am, but I know where I’m not.”

Looking back, that probably shouldn’t have been as comforting as it was. It’s hard to see my mother so diminished. The spark is still there, but with the dementia and the mini-strokes, it’s hard to find her. I was happy to see that she recognized me, after not seeing me for a year. She lives in Kansas, I live in Florida. I surprised her, arriving without any warning. I did tell her who I was, and she remembered me and my children, even had a spark when I mentioned my granddaughter.

Mom playing dress up with Audrey December 2012

My daughter laments she can’t see her grandmother and bring her daughter to visit, but I suggested that she not. Let the six year old have memories of her GiGi as she was the last time she saw her, not as the woman who might not remember her name. I also want my daughter and sons to remember her: my mother a vital, energetic, brilliant, fearless woman.

With such a strong mother, it is no wonder that Dellani Oakes is such a creative writer. You can find her work at http://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A

The Bench By Delinda McCann

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The old woman saw the bench sitting alone and thought it looked lonely sitting there beside the path through the woods.  She rested her weary body on it and patted its moss-covered wood in gratitude for this respite on her daily walk.

She sat and let her eyes flutter closed as her mind drifted into the past.  She remembered the red dress she wore the night she first saw Carl.  Her lips curved in the slightest of smiles as she remembered her young love–so tall and strong.  She chuckled in her mind as she remembered how he couldn’t take is eyes off of her.  She snorted.  “He couldn’t take his eyes off of my breasts is more like it.”  Her memories gave her energy enough to push herself to her feet and move on.

The next day the bench still waited for the old woman to rest on its aged wood.  She patted the mossy surface and let her eyes drift closed.  She smelled the damp air as the weak sun tried to dry up the last of the night’s rain.  She remembered the big flood.  Their house sat on a small knoll surrounded by water.  Many of their neighbors had not been so lucky.  Carl had taken his rowboat from house to house rescuing stranded neighbors and bringing them home.  She remembered how she’d fed forty-three people soup and bread.  She sighed pushed herself to her feet and resumed her walk.

The next day, the old woman greeted the bench as an old friend.  She sat and remembered when her babies had come.  A tear rolled down her cheek as she remembered the grave of little Marie.  She’d been born so tiny, but had fought so hard to live.  “Dear Lord, take care of my baby.  I miss her,” she prayed then pushed herself to her feet to continue her journey.

On the fourth day, the old woman sighed as she eased her frail bones to the rough surface.  She didn’t have to wait for the memories.  They flooded her senses. She remembered when her son, Dale, went away to war and the day he came home in a coffin.  She remembered how Carl had held her as he cursed the foolishness of men who make war.  She remembered how Beth grieved for her brother then followed him a few months later as cancer claimed her body.  The old woman heaved a great sigh and thought, “Soon,” as she struggled to her feet.

On the fifth day, the old woman stumbled as she approached the bench.  What memories would torment her soul today she wondered?  A great sigh welled up from the depths of her being, but no memories of loss plagued her today.  Today, she remembered traveling with Carl to Venice.  They’d stayed on the Lido.  She remembered how he held her hand as they rode in a gondola.  They ate lunch and drank wine in St Marks’s plaza.  He bought her a cameo on a chain.  She bought him a yellow tie with lions on it. She remembered the warm sun of Italy and longed to be warm and loved.

After her happy memories of Italy the old woman approached the bench the next day, hoping for visions of the good days when Carl held her in his arms and made her laugh.  She thought of Carl and her knees gave out as she lowered herself onto the bench.  Instead of joy, she remembered the night he passed on.  She remembered wondering when her handsome young husband had become an old man.  A warm feeling spreading from her heart surprised her as she remembered how Carl had turned to her at the very end and whispered, “I’ll be going now.  Always remember that I love you and will love you ‘til the end of time.”  The old woman pressed her hands to her heart to hold the memory of Carl’s love inside her as she struggled to push herself upright.

At the end of the week, the old woman tottered and wheezed as she made her way to her bench.  The young nurse had told her to say inside because the wind blew so cold, but the nurse didn’t know anything.  At the bench, she remembered. She lived again.  As the elderly woman sank down on the rough wood, she longed for her mate.  She closed her eyes but no memories flooded her brain.  She thought, “It is cold I best go in.”

She smoothed the folds in her red dress and looked up to see Carl.  His voice warmed her tired body as he almost lifted her from the bench.  “Come my love, the children are waiting.”

Nurse Daphne leaned close to the window as she peered out and shook her head.  She turned to one of the nursing assistants in the home.  “Steven would you go out and bring Rose inside.  That crazy old woman is sitting in the cold.”

 

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Delinda McCann is a social psychologist who has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over twenty years.  She has served on committees for the state of Washington and been an educational advisor to other governments. She has published four books Lies That Bind, M’TK Sewer Rat: End of an Empire, M”TK Sewer Rat: Birth of a Nation, and Something About Maudy.

The Man in Red By Micki Peluso

When I was born my mother divorced from my father, who was fighting in World War II, and moved us from North Carolina to Texas. It appears as if she was running from something since all her family lived in North Carolina. In Texas, we stayed in many places; most of them awful but the memories most clear occurred in a medium-sized white house in San Antonio when I was about three years old. I remember wide streets, trolley cars chugging back and forth and playing in the Alamo.

The chain-link fence and two white dogs, perhaps chows, are clear. The layout of the house is embedded in my memory. The front door opened into a side-by-side living room; steps led upstairs to bedrooms, and the kitchen was off to the back of the house. The dining room was converted into a bedroom for my mother and me, and held a double bed, a dresser and a lamp on the nightstand by the bed.

One night something awakened me. I noticed my mother was not in bed with me. Wearing a nightshirt, I got up and ran into the living room searching for her. As I tore into the room I saw a heavyset man sitting in an overstuffed chair; smiling, beckoning me to come to him. I ran toward him, then stopped and froze. He was covered in what looked like bloody stripes. I screamed and ran back into the bedroom, jumped on the bed and crawled under the covers; in spite of the steamy summer night.

I told my mother the next day and many years afterwards, but she maintained it was only a bad dream. It was not a dream — it was a real memory that haunted my childhood. Growing to adulthood the memory continued to torment me. Once, I hypnotized myself as taught by a therapist. In a deep state of meditation I was able to reach the room, excited to at long last see what really happened that fearsome night when I was three.

The moment I tried to enter the living room, a huge invisible door slammed down in front of me preventing my entrance. I decided then that if my subconscious acted so strongly to protect me then perhaps I was not meant to relive that memory. What could have happened? Child abuse to myself? Did I catch my mother with this stranger in a compromising situation? Whatever horror had implanted itself in my psyche; something protected me from its discovery.

My mother died of a massive heart attack at the age of 69 carrying two secrets to her grave. One was the identity of my birth father and the other was the man in red. Her few belongings were mailed to me by her cousin who cared for her in her later years. There was some jewelry and a large envelope of photographs. Shuffling through the photos of people I may have known but no longer recognized, I came across an 8 x 10 photograph, signed ‘Jesse and Mama’. I gasped and shuddered. Jesse with his sinister smile was the man in red. Now I had a name for the man who terrified me as a child but still no memory of what happened that night so long ago. At least I now knew it was not a dream.

If you’d like to know more about Micki Peluso stop by and visit:


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