Road Tripping Down Memory Lane with My Crew and Marie

Today the crew and I made an impromptu visit to the GW Boutique.  We popped in with the idea of doing “shelf checks” as the Fella calls them.  Two years ago I think it was, we made an in-house rule that gifts for all of the family living in this house had to be either homemade or purchased from a thrift store of some sort.  It has been the most fun, as we have had to get creative and really think outside of the box.

I can still remember Mama sitting on the couch right where I am sitting now, watching as we all (including her) unwrapped our GW gifts.  She looked over everything and said with awe in her voice, “You did so good.  This is amazing.”

What?  I outshopped the “on sale with a coupon” Queen?

So thankful for the memories of the joy and laughter of that last Christmas with Mama.

And yeah, I’m proud that she was impressed.

Today was a flurry of this one and that one (even the nearly grown one) coming up and handing me things to “hide” in the cart so the person whom it was for wouldn’t see it.  They don’t know it, but I’ve been shopping right in front of them like that for years.

At one point Cooter walked over to me and pointed to the cart I’d parked a few feet away.  “Okay, so don’t look under the cart.  I put your present under there.”

Ummmm, okay?  And who’s checking out with all of this stuff anyway?

A quick glance told me it was sizable and I knew what it was–I remembered seeing it on the shelf.  It was the Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker.

Oh my.

I explained to him that his sister or Daddy would have to bring him back if he really wanted to surprise me.  I also told him our blender would make ice for sno-cones I was pretty sure, so he amiably put the box back on the shelf.

They were all so excited it was precious.

The fact that they were excited about giving was not lost on me, and I am very thankful.

At one point during our shopping Cooter and our Princess came running up to Aub and me, “Look!  Look who we found!”

He's a little bit rock and roll.....

He’s a little bit rock and roll…..

I nodded.  “Wow, that’s cool.  Donny Osmond!”

They looked at me as though they’d never been so disappointed in me in their lives.

“Mama, NO!  It’s Elvis.”

Ummm, I don’t think so.

I explained to them who it was and how I knew this.  Many moons ago, I had a Marie Osmond doll, whose dress was a perfect match to this Donny’s outfit.

My great Aunt Hattie used to send Christmas and birthday packages that rivaled Santa’s pack.  She was just as good-hearted as she was generous and she loved us like we were her own.  Over the years she started sending my two sisters, Mess Cat and Sister, who were seventeen months apart in age, different Barbie dolls.  I was a little old for them I guess, and so the first year she sent them a Barbie, I got Marie.

She was loved.

Both of them–Aunt Hattie and Marie.

I told my crew the story as we walked through the store.  They nodded, and I asked them to go put Donny back.

A few minutes later, they came running up (yes I’ve told them not to run indoors, but this time I forgave them–it warranted running).

“Mama mamamamamamamamamamama!!!!!”

I turned to them to see what all the excitement was about.

They said, nearly in unison, “Lookit what we found!”

And there she was.

A little bit country.....bless her.

A little bit country…..bless her.  I reckon that’s why she’s barefooted.  

They were so excited.  Princess had found her, shown her to Cooter, and they both agreed I needed to bring her home.  And Donny too.

And for 88 cents apiece, that’s exactly where they came.

The littles were beaming and so tickled, and that was the best treasure of all.

But finding Marie–that was a close second.

Marie spent a lot of time, ummmmm…..unclothed, shall we say, over the years.  I loved to make clothes for Mess Cat’s Barbies.  Once I crocheted a whole set of dresses for bridesmaids, flower girls, and the bride of course.  And poor Marie? She was the model for them all.  I can’t follow a pattern to save my life, but I can crochet and try on and make adjustments and keep going.

See, Marie, she’s built just like Barbie.

Go figure.

And bless her, she never once complained.  After a while I stopped getting her redressed and just tucked her under my bed between fittings so as not to offend the delicate sensitivities of my way younger brother.

Oh the memories.

I’m not sure at what point Marie disappeared from my life.  It wasn’t as traumatic as the time Raggedy Ann left, so I really don’t know.

But I am glad she’s back.

And Marie is retired.  She won’t ever have to work as a dress model again.

Always the model, never the bride…..

Tonight I am thankful for the joy of giving I saw in my children today.  I am thankful for the fun treasures we found, and that I hope show up wrapped by Christmas morning.  Right now they each have their own gifts for others hidden away in their rooms.  If they are anything like their Mama, we’re in trouble.  Ah well, there’s always next Christmas.

Most of all I’m thankful for the excitement my littles found in bringing a memory to life for me today.  And I remember and miss my Aunt Hattie.  She was a dear soul whom you don’t find often in this life.  She’d have given us her purse she always toted around if we had asked her.  Bless her, I want to just like her when I grow up.

May you all come across a treasure that brings you a smile and a memory that warms your heart.

Love to all.

 

 

Taking the Ones We Love…..A Little Everyday

My littles have a joke they love to sneak in on me, on you, on anyone they can.  They learned it from their friend during one of our summer adventures.

L: Hey Mama, will you remember me always?

Me:  Of course I will.

L: Will you remember me in an hour?

Me: Yes.

L: Will you remember me in four hours?

Me: Of course.

L:Will you remember me in a day?

Me: Yep.

L: A week?

Me: Sure thing.

L: Will you remember me in a year?

Me: You know it.

They will fake me off with a few moments of quiet during which I’m unloading dishes (hopefully clean–don’t ask) or folding clothes or making one of the million trips between two rooms in my house.  Then–

L: Knock knock!

Me: Who’s there?

L: You already forgot me! (usually this is where he or she collapses in giggles because yes, once again, they got me)

It’s a cute joke.  I laugh every time they get me, because well, it tickles them and I have to laugh or I’ll cry over how easily distracted I am and how easy it was for them to get me.  Again.

The other day I saw this posted on Facebook. It’s a whole different, heartbreaking and very unfunny side of the forgetfulness.

pic of alzheimers request

Alzheimer’s is definitely no joke.  So many of us kid about having “senior” or “Old Timers” or even “Alzheimer’s” moments.  It is said in jest with no mal-intent, but the pain and brokenness behind the truth of this disease is almost too much to comprehend.

I remember meeting someone with Alzheimer’s twelve years ago when I worked for Hospice.  The sweet and gentle man was lying in a hospital bed in a nursing home.  Each morning very early, his wife of over fifty years came and sat with him.  She did not leave until dark, which unfortunately was much earlier in the winter.  She didn’t like leaving him that early, but she couldn’t drive after dark.  Perhaps the saddest thing of all was that I am not sure he even knew she was there most of the time.  And the sweetness and gentleness was fading quickly.  It broke my heart to see her dedication and how much she loved him, as she watched what someone once described as having your favorite book be torn apart, one page at a time.

We had been through it already with my great-great aunt, but I don’t remember a lot of the details.  I mostly remember Mama talking about how she was doing things that were very uncharacteristic of her.  Once a genteel Southern lady, she became aggressive and downright irrational at times. She too wound up in a nursing home before she left this world for a far better one.

I have had this on my mind the past few days.  Today four years ago we celebrated the birthday of my beloved aunt the day after her birthday.  My zoo crew, Mama and Daddy, and I all went to see her. I had even baked a cake in the shape of a crown.  She seemed to enjoy the day, which was joyful for all of us.  Her memory had been slipping a little and though I don’t know that there had been a definite diagnosis, I suspect that Alzheimer’s had been tossed around.  It was only a matter of time before we would have to make a decision about her living situation.  She was in the house she had been in for decades, and she probably knew it better than she knew the back of her hand.  It would be very hard to convince her to move, though it would have been for her own good.

There is a special tint to the memory of that day.  I look back through the lens of sentiment and sadness and gratitude.  It was the calm before the storm.  It was the last birthday we would celebrate with her, as she died peacefully in her sleep in her own home about eight and a half months later.  Though we still miss her everyday, we are thankful she didn’t have to leave what was comforting and familiar for her.

That day was also the last time we would do something like that as a whole family together.  It was less than a week later that Daddy went into the hospital to officially begin what would be over two years of fighting against the giant that would later be named Lymphoma.  Like memory loss and Alzheimer’s that one struck from out of nowhere and hit us hard.

This is a hard world to be in at times.  Sometimes we lose the folks we love suddenly, leaving us wishing for more time, for just a few more minutes to say what we left unsaid.  And sometimes we lose the ones we love little by little, almost imperceptible from day-to-day, but it continues and takes its toll.  Alzheimer’s is like that.  One little bit of memory, of personality at a time.  Lymphoma turned out to be the same way, only affecting the body instead.  One skill at a time…..little by little.

Tonight I am thankful for the memory of this day.  I am grateful we had just decided to homeschool, and that my oldest was able to be there and also has the memory of this celebration.  I turn back to this page in my mind often and the corners are soft and worn and comforting.  The laughter, the visiting, seeing the joy and the spark in her eyes, how she oohed over the cake that was made especially for her, how Daddy took the littles outside, just like he always did–such a beautiful day, inside and out.  Most of all, I am thankful for folks who are researching and studying both of these diseases, working so maybe fewer and fewer people will leave us this way.  I get that it’s just a label to folks who have never known someone with it, and that’s understandable .  But I also know that if you lose the people you love most to either disease, you will never forget it.

If you would like to join in the fight, here are just a couple of organizations who are working to change the world through research and support:

Alzheimer’s Association   http://www.alz.org/  Because September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, there are many “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” events going on this fall to raise funds and awareness.  It’s not too late to get involved.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society  http://www.lls.org/#/ They have Light the Night events to raise funds and awareness as well.  Right now you can buy a balloon for $1, $5, or more at Burlington, a partner with LLS, and the funds go back to LLS.

We can all make a difference in the fight for someone’s life.   I’m thankful for that too.