What’s a Treasure Chest of Memories?

Treasure Chest of Memories

A box full of photos and memorabilia is one type of Treasure Chest of Memories

You may have noticed that at the end of many of my posts, I refer you to my memory-sharing site, TreasureChestofMemories.com. I figure the time has come to tell you the rest of the story.

The original Treasure Chest of Memories

My passion for telling stories stems from a gift left by my grandmother. Shortly before her death, Hazel Crymes passed on an old spiral notebook filled with a lifetime of memories, which she dubbed her “Treasure Chest of Memories.” Her writings included childhood memories, stories of her children as they grew, good recipes, and wisdom she had gathered along the way. Continue reading

Advertisements

Sneaky Grandma

Silouette of child

This must be me.

Grandmothers can be sneaky.  Grandmothers also excel at making each and every grandchild feel like they are the most special one. Sometimes the former aids the latter.

My husband’s maternal grandmother wasn’t particularly sneaky. She’d simply lie and giggle. She’d look at him and say, “You know you were always my favorite, right?” Then she’d put her hand over her face and giggle. (At least she couldn’t lie with a straight face.)

My grandmother was extremely honest. She and my grandpa raised their four children to be truthful at all times. She never told my sister or me that we were her favorites. I hope that she didn’t tell any of the others either. However, we suspected we were.

Grandma-Crymes-at-Christmas

My Grandmother Crymes

One reason for our suspicion was that whenever we went to visit, our pictures were displayed front and center in the living room. Our dozen or so cousins’ photos would be relegated to shelves in the corners, side tables, etc.

Shortly before she died, I visited my grandmother a couple of days after my cousin Harry had visited her. I was appalled to see Harry’s picture sitting in the place of honor. My sister and my pictures were stacked in a corner. Suddenly the realization of grandma’s game of bait and switch hit me. Though it saddened me that she was too weak to switch the photos around, I was deeply touched at the measures such an honest woman would take to make her grandkids feel special.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013

Interested in sharing your memories? My website, Treasure Chest of Memories, gives tips, resources, and a blog about memory sharing.

Yearning for the “Rest of the Story”

My passion for genealogy is what led me to volunteer to “key” for the World Archives project in which millions of microfilmed records are being indexed.

A feeling of headiness with my “exceptional” accuracy rating and my German led me to choose to key 1940 – 1941 WWII Nazi records from Kraków, Poland in which Jews applied for permits to remain in the city.

Immersion into this ugly period of history is itself disturbing.  It’s difficult for me to imagine a world in which one, by virtue of their faith, had to apply for a permit to keep a few pounds of their personal belongs and live in squalor.  Looking at the rejections is even more disturbing.  In 1940 Kraków, that must have been terrifying.  Seeing the names and addresses of these individuals, I yearn to hear the rest of their stories. Just because there were so many of them, doesn’t mean each one’s not a poignant drama worthy of being told.

What did they do? Where did they go? Did they survive?  Do they have relatives looking for their records?

Here’s hoping that one day their subsequent generations will hear their stories.

©Laura Hedgecock 2011

Tied in Knots

There’s a display of a Yakama time ball at the Simthsonian Native American Museum in Washington, D.C.   It ‘s a tradtion of the Yakama people that the rest of us could well learn from.

The twine in the ball represents life and the ball  itself represents a lifestory. Like life, it’s not perfectly spooled.  Like life, it’s got a few knots in it.   It’s not a story mean for others to interpret.  It’s a life story for a woman to savor or share.

The Yakama, rather than trying to mask the knots of life,  preserve or celebrate  the memory of those knots (i.e., events) with a bead.   Some of the knots represent happy events, such as a marriage or birth of a child.  Others represent a times of hurt, grieving, or personal growth.

If you think about it, we too should celebrate life’s knots.  Rather than sweeping the less than pretty, less than perfect times under the rug, we should preserve those memories, even share them with the other women in our lives.

That way, a life story, like a  time ball,  wouldn’t  have to look pretty to be beautiful.

Momma – Cat Chronicles, Vol III

My mother once adopted several sick kittens simultaneously, with the hope of nursing them back to health. Unfortunately, only one kitten survived. Based on his rescue and subsequent and successful recovery, this black and white Tom was named Lucky.

Lucky was lucky and he was also very sweet. He wasn’t very smart.

Lucky and Me

Lucky and Me

As Lucky entered cat-adulthood, the most blatant sign of his lack of intelligence surfaced when he starting to go exploring downstairs. Like most middle-class homes, our house only had one staircase, which for most of us functioned as an up- and a down-staircase. For Lucky, it was only a down-staircase. He would pithy hop down the stairs, chase spiders,  sun himself ,and nap. When he was ready to come back upstairs he would sit by the bottom stair and meow-howl, “Mer -ra-ow.” He’d pitch the “ow” about a fourth higher than the “Mer.”

He was doggedly persistent as only a cat can be. He was also loud. He would meow-howl for however long it took for some human to walk down the stairs and plunk him over their forearm and carry him upstairs. Even if he went right back downstairs, he would not be able to figure out how to get back up, which was curious, because he figured out how to jump up to the top of the refrigerator. If that had been Lucky’s only idiosyncrasy, my Mom probably would have accepted it and not attempted to cure him.

Another of Lucky’s eccentricities was his fear of the dishwasher. He didn’t mind the dog, the vacuum cleaner, the mixer or strangers, but was quite adamant about not being left alone in the kitchen while the dishwasher ran. If one forgot, one would be reminded by frantic meow-howls and door scratchings. So, before the dishwasher could be started, one had to clear the room of the cat. Mom decided to cure him of this peccadillo.

I don’t know what Mom was reading in those days, but it certainly wasn’t Psychology Today. As she formed her desensitization program for the cat, the words “gradual exposure” did not enter her mind. She decided to simply shut the cat in the kitchen as she ran the dishwasher and assumed that by the end of the cycle her dishes would be clean and the cat better adjusted.

Granted, we had a large, pleasant eat-in kitchen with nicely wall-papered (this was the 70’s) walls with pull-down shades covered in the same green wall-paper. Mom figured it wasn’t as if she was locking him in a closet with a vacuum cleaner. He had a lot of room in the kitchen. Luckily, on the day of Lucky’s Better Adjustment, Mom kept a close ear on the proceedings. Within a few minutes the yowling became so frantic that the Better Adjustment Session was called to a halt. As she opened the kitchen door, she was greeted with a cat exiting in a blur and a scene she wished was a blur. Lucky had not tried to adjust better, but had tried desperately to exit the room. He had tired to climb out the windows by way of the shades and in so doing had pulled down every curtain and shredded every shade, wall-paper and all. Then, apparently, though we are only guessing as to the sequence of events, his fears had affected his bowels. Being neat and tidy, he did not soil the floor. Instead he left nearly equal gifts for my mom in each of her four kitchen chairs.

Elapsed time: 5 minutes.

 Score: Mom 0; Cat 1.

Lucky never again had to endure being in the kitchen when the dishwasher ran.

© Laura Hedgecock 2009

Momma — Cat Chronicles — Vol II

What happens when a mother cat goes hunting for her young? Usually, not much — not much, that is, unless she was living with my mother.

Pregnant Peaches

Pregnant Peaches

Peaches, my tortoiseshell cat, was for reasons that remain unclear to me today, never “fixed.” So shortly after we noticed she was gaining weight, it was determined that she was great with child– or kittens, as the case may be. Before too long Peaches delivered her litter of precious kittens in the downstairs bathroom closet. She was a devoted mom and even my social-worker mother was impressed with her maternal abilities. Peaches was put on premium rations, as was only befitting a nursing mother of six or so, including milk, canned food, and the occasional scrambled egg. My mom’s natural and professional abilities kicked in, as she supported the little single mother in every way possible, enabling her to successfully raise her babies.

 As appreciative as Peaches was, or could be, considering she was a cat, of all the things my mom was doing for her, she did have an independent streak. As her kittens grew older, she apparently felt she had to start modeling cat survival skills. So, despite the lofty level of domestic charity that was going on in our household, the day came when Peaches went out to provide for her babies herself.

Peaches was outside, supposedly attending to her ‘business,’ when Mom saw her approaching and graciously opened the kitchen door for her. As Peaches trotted up the two steps, Mom noticed something resembling a dead animal in the cat’s mouth. My Mom was not known for being one for keeping her tongue, particularly in a crisis, though she did try very hard never to curse. In fact, whenever she was tempted to utter a swear-word, she would substitute “God Bless America!” Sometimes “God Bless America!” could even be used as an adjective. On this occasion, it wasn’t what she said, it was her volume. She simply screamed. She screamed long and loud.

Poor Peaches must have had an adrenaline rush and chosen option “B”, i.e. “flight”, of her “fight or flight” instincts. She dropped her prize, turned tail, literally, and sprang back out of the still open kitchen door, not bothering with the steps. My mother was left with the spoils of the hunt – a rabbit’s head. Mom grabbed the broom that was kept beside the refrigerator to get the mess cleaned up.

Many of us would have grabbed the broom with some concept of using it to lift and remove the rabbit’s head from the kitchen floor. Not my mom. Her strategy was to entice Peaches to come back into the kitchen and remove it for her. Entice her with a broom. Her good intentions of supporting the poor little single mom trying her best to raise her babies were forgotten. All who had been attracted by the previous scream got to see my mom running around the backyard with a broom, chasing my poor mother-cat, yelling “You get your God-bless- America!-self back in there and pick up that God-bless- America!-thing off my kitchen floor!”.

Peaches and her daughter Stomper

Peaches and her daughter Stomper

I don’t know who cleaned up the rabbit’s head. I know I didn’t and I’m pretty sure Peaches didn’t either.

© Laura Hedgecock 2009