Some trips down Memory Lane

7 Comments

I don’t profess to know much about history.  I spent more time trying to avert my eyes from my high school History teacher’s unpleasant gestures and I unfortunately did not absorb any of the assumed knowledge he had bestowed upon us.  Instead, I doodled, wrote poems and passed notes to my friends.  I narrowly escaped with a passing percentage from my tenth grade scholastic year because of the embarrassing grade I received from that History class but my outlook on the past has recently changed.

(image credit)

I have been asked to help with a project for our local library.  They would like to create a book that details the photos and the memories of our senior residents, learn what brought them to Muskoka and what the area was like when they first arrived.  I knew I would enjoy the journey but I didn’t know how much I would love it until I did my first interview on Wednesday.

This area has been home to my family for many generations.  I have been fortunate to live here for most of my life and have many photos and stories of family members who walked these paths long before my grandparents were born.  It has been a part of  my soul for longer than I have been on this Earth and I now get to hear stories of how Muskoka has been the love of many other people’s lives.

My first interview was with a delightful 82-year-old woman who was born in Cork, Ireland.  She moved to England with her family after the war and bravely left the safety of her home to move to Canada with a friend when she was 23 years old.  As I listened to her detail the moments of her life, I became absorbed in her words as she described her passion for her early days as a cottager and subsequently as a summer resident.  Her words moved me.  I felt the same strong emotion she did as she described how she felt more than fifty years ago when she first came to the area.

Perhaps history is subjective.   The stories of our past may be told in different ways but they will always hold a special place in our heart.  I am looking forward to joining a few more of our long-time residents on their journey down memory lane.

The road already travelled

2 Comments

“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” ~ William Gibson

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  When you least expect it, what began as a glimpse into your subconscious suddenly floods your senses and overwhelms you with thoughts of the past.  It could be a song lyric, a smell or an old picture that triggers the trip down memory lane but, regardless of how the journey begins, the open road to your past looms behind and begs for you to follow it.

 

hindsight-rear-view-future-past-road-mirror

(image credit)

On occasion that journey can feel like you have stepped through a portal into the time-space continuum and have completely ensconced yourself in that moment so many years ago.  You can visualize the wallpaper on the walls that no longer exist in reality but feel like they are an arm’s length away if you reached out to touch them.  You can inhale fragrant scents and feel the presence of the person who used to wear that particular perfume or cologne.  That one song can play and transport you back to the time and place you have associated so strongly with those lyrics.

That road that stretches behind us still waits for us whenever we feel the beckoning pull of sentimentality.  Venturing down that protected surface serves to remind us where we’ve been but will always afford us the opportunity to turn around and forge ahead into the future.

Understanding and embracing those things from our past can only motivate us to continue.  We carve the paths of our progressive journey knowing that the moments that have shaped us will always be there to remind us of where we have been and where we have since chosen to go.

The Wooden Spoon

2 Comments

There are a million wooden spoons.  I’m sure I could go to any store from a Walmart to the highest-end Kitchen gadget store to replace the one I have.  But the one I have has a special function that none of those other spoons would have.  The spoon that I have is able to transport me back in time.

img_3524

This wooden spoon is the spoon my mother used to stir her brownie batter with and, when I was being good, I would be allowed to lick the leftover batter from that spoon.  When I become old enough to help in the kitchen, I was entrusted with the spoon and left on my own to make the brownies without my mom’s help and, as a teen is wont to do, I still licked the spoon.

This wooden spoon has had an epic journey and has lived in many kitchens but it now finds its place in my home.  It was one of the only kitchen items I chose to keep from my mom’s vast collection of kitchen gadgets after she passed away. It shares its space with the shiny stainless steel utensils, in just as shiny a container, on the counter in my kitchen.  It looks like a misfit toy lost in the pristine surroundings of Santa’s workshop but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There are times when I am afraid to use the spoon for fear that it will break and I will lose that tangible part of the past that I shared with my mother.  It feels like the last piece of her that I can physically hold on to and be six years old again in our kitchen.

This inanimate object is far from lifeless and its spirit will continue to fill my kitchen, and my heart.

 

When the past slaps you in the face

5 Comments

It is a very rare occurrence when my emotions take me by surprise.  I am usually fairly in tune with them and I can feel them bubbling gently below the surface.  But last night on my way home from work while driving past my mother’s old house, the same house I drive by every day on my way to work and again on my way home, the emotion stored within my walls hit me like a ton of bricks.   Last night I glanced at the house, as I do every time I follow that familiar road, and I burst into tears.

I don’t know where the tidal pool of emotion came from but suddenly I was flooded with images of moments that had become important memories in my life.  Christmases, birthdays, family gatherings and quiet nights spent as a family were at the forefront of my brain.  Lingering snapshots of magical kisses witnessed by only the walls upstairs slowly transformed themselves into moving pictures to replay those scenes.  That house, the building others would only see as walls and a roof, was my home.  It was the vessel that helped create and store some of the most precious moments of my life.

And I do the same with my childhood home.  Every so often I feel the pull to drive by and just look at the house that began our journey to becoming locals in this town.  It was home to my family and a welcoming second home to many of our friends.  It witnessed great happiness and great sorrow, but it was always filled with love.

house

(image credit)

Although there were many happy times in our second home, there were also moments of great sorrow.  Those walls echoed my overwhelming grief in May of 2003 as I told my parents through hysterical sobs that my best friend had passed away unexpectedly.  That roof sheltered both my parents as they battled their illness and those walls protected them for as long as they could.  That structure, that old building that is seemingly unnoticeable to passers-by, will forever have a large part of my history carved into its frame.

That architecture will always be a part of me.   And each time I drive by and take the time to trace the outlines of those walls I will always have an affinity to its design and purpose.  It is said that we need to let things go to be happier but I feel the need to embrace those things to stay connected.

 

An open world begins with an open mind

6 Comments

I saw this video on Facebook.  Every so often, after spending countless minutes of looking at absolute crap, you stumble on something that is absolutely worth watching.  And after watching this video, which is more of a summation of a few people, I continued down the line and watched all of the individual videos that were posted.  I was in tears after watching this video.  I was sobbing at the end of last one I watched.

But the tears I shed weren’t specifically about the videos.  The tears I shed were about the message that I got from watching the reaction of each person as they found out they weren’t exactly who they thought they were.  Each of the participants were so adamant about their background that they had all but dismissed any other reality….until they got their results.

The message in this experiment is one I wish we could spread across the planet.  And this test is one that I wish WAS made mandatory for everybody.  Finding out you share DNA with someone you have been historically trained to hate, not as a person but as a race, religion or belief, would be a hard pill to swallow.  But that pill could possibly begin to cure the current pandemic  called Hate.

 

 

 

Sometimes you can go back

4 Comments

rearview-mirror

(image credit)

Some would say to leave the past in the past.  Over the course of this previous weekend, parts of my past engaged with my present and it was a wonderful blend of remembering old and making new memories.

I’ve never been one to shy away from the things in my past.  All of those moments, good or bad, made me who I am today.  And although things may not have worked out the way I may have wanted, I always like to think I learned a lesson from each one of those experiences.

I learned to be strong when I needed to be and to allow myself to feel vulnerable when I needed support.  I have learned that each one of the people in my past still holds a piece of my heart even though they may not be an everyday character in this act of my present.

But the final chapters of my story have not been written.  There may be a rough outline but the story has not been sent to print and there is always room for a few backspaces and some new paragraphs to be written.  Sometimes you can go back, not to the past you had but you can go back to reread the story line and see if any of those characters can be written into a few paragraphs of your future.

I am not going to live in the past, but I will always allow my past to live within me.

Balls to the wall

7 Comments

It lay dormant, nestled in the corner of the family dining room at the cottage.  It listened to every one of our crazy conversations and eventually became the topic of many of those conversations instead of just blending into the background.

Its birth was accidental.  It came to be through a simple act of property maintenance.  The family cottage was built in the early 1900’s and had begun to show its age so, without regard for its final appearance, a spray foam was used to seal a few cracks in the old building.  What resulted in the upper corner of that dining room was eventually named and heralded as a true piece of our family history.

Perhaps this innocuous object was made more grotesque by my family’s depraved sense of humor.  It is even reasonable to say that other families may never look at this simple mass and see what we all saw.  But from the first time it was noticed at a family dinner, it was affectionately dubbed the “shiny ball sack’.

Over the years, this harmless protrusion witnessed our highs and our lows.  It feasted on the sounds of our laughter and it absorbed the collection of our tears.  Somehow that inanimate object became a large part of the traditions of our family meals and I was devastated to find out it was going to be amputated from its place in those family traditions.

I haven’t been able to visit the cottage yet this summer so I was unaware that the surgical removal had taken place – until today.  I came home from work to find a lovely gift bag on my front door step and when I saw what was inside, my heart swelled.  There, gently preserved in a shadow box, was the shiny ball sack that has been a part of our family dinners for decades.  My aunt had painstakingly saved this piece of history and presented it in a way that would allow me to keep this little gem of our family history safe and sound.

ball sack

My mom and I used to laugh endlessly about this mutation of foam and it will now find its place beside a picture of my mother in my living room.  It is a fitting ending to this chapter knowing that two of the things that brought me so much joy will be together again.