Memory Box

A couple of months ago, when visiting my mama and
step-father, I loaded a rectangular, wooden box into my trunk. This tiny trunk
contained treasures I planned to use to create a memory book for my mama. I’d
read an article written by a daughter who did this for her mother who had
Alzheimer’s and she discovered it was one way to connect when conversations
were no longer a part of their shared vocabulary.

When I got home and lifted the latch of the box, the memories
floated up –many made from the days before I was even born. Memories, encased
in photos, grouped and tucked into specific recycled manila envelopes, labeled
in my mother’s beautiful handwriting: Pam-Greg-Mark-Milton-Family-Friends.
(My mother was nothing if not organized, neat and tidy).  On my kitchen table, moments in time,
captured in still shots, spread out before me.

In this particular moment in time, I am seven years old (so
says the writing on the back of the photo).
My mama is next to me with the photographer’s lens at our backs. We
stand in the foamy waters of the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara. I am bent
over, hands in the frigid waters, wearing light blue and white striped pedal
pushers.  I am shirtless. My mother
stands next to me, in an olive colored Sweater, her dark plaid pants pushed up
to mid-calf. Her posture is protective, leaning towards me, a towel or perhaps
my shirt in her arms.

It is my first time at the ocean. I am enthralled with its vastness.
Entranced by the ebb and flow of the turquoise water laced with its foamy
whiteness.  The cold numbs my feet as
they sink into the soft dark sand.

What does she see, my mama, as she gazes out over the
endless vista?  Does something deep
inside her sense that eventually her life will unfurl like a tidal wave,
leaving her to stand on shifting sands? Does she know that her memory will ebb
and flow like the tides, eventually bobbing up and down like a piece of
driftwood carried far out to sea?

My mama

 What will she see now as her hands turns the pages of this
memory book?  Will she be able to sift
through photos and memories and land on something solid? Something familiar? Or
have these images moved to a distant place in the horizon?


Building on the Sand  (by Bonnie Thurston)

At the outset one is told

to construct the edifice of self

with the best possible material,

great blocks hewn

from the cultural rock.

One builds her tower

to reach toward heaven

until, perhaps halfway

(if she is fortunate),

she understands

this building is illusion,

building on sand.

Then begins the costly

and liberating work

of deconstruction,

breaking the large,

imposing pediment

into small, smooth stones

to skip across life’s surface,

send out ripples

towards concentric infinity

before sinking into the depths

where pearls lie

building on sand.

Always Mercy,


via Always Mercy

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