Lately I seem to be tripping on little bits of this and that … the odd phrase, random thought, passing gesture, or old lessons gleaned from others. Like silk tendrils, they are woven into the fabric of my life. I am sure those who once shared their thoughts or dropped their clever non sequitur, are unaware of their enduring largess. However, for me those little blips of memory, like gifts from the past, always give me a zing of joy when they make an appearance. I seem to have acquired an abundance of them, and like lint they have taken up residence in the filter of my daily life. None of them are majorly important, but all of them cling to me and illustrate the power of random meetings to reverberate over the years.

… When I set out to go downtown, I am always reminded of my stepfather, Gerhard. As I reach the first intersection and face the choice of a left or right turn, I know it makes no difference which way I go. Left or right makes no never-mind …  it is same distance to downtown. I know this because Gerhard made it a point to measure it when I first moved in. As a result, I always drive a loop to and from, to make it more interesting. The memory of his kindness is like a warm hug from the past as I drive off to run my mundane errands.

… My Grandfather the engineer taught me how to wash dishes correctly using the freshest of hot sudsy water to wash the silverware and glasses, because they went directly into the mouth and needed to be the cleanest. So now, as I pull on my rubber gloves, and reach for the soap, I am reminded of my grandparent’s airy kitchen in Booneville and his gnarly old hands moving like lightning through the soapy water as he cleaned up after supper. And I guess I will always wash the forks and glasses first, if for no other reason than to conjure up the memory of him.

… I had a friend in college who had spent time working in a museum as a custodian who instructed me in the correct use of a wide broom … sweep and tap, sweep and tap, sweep and tap. So now whenever I clean the garage floor I syncopate my sweeping with memories of him, and his instruction. Again, with the cleaning … what gives?

… My dear friend Gail was an ace at ironing just about anything. She’s the one who taught me how to fold my damask napkins correctly. And who would know better? After all, her grandfather had been a butler in an English stately home. So now these many years later, my hands move in an automatic pattern whenever I iron, and I think of her while hot steam rises and the smell of fresh laundry envelops me. Together we also learned how to French braid our hair, and how to measure a room correctly. Useful stuff was her specialty. She also loved unusual houseplants, and I remember her as I water my Rabbit’s Foot Fern. (Which isn’t doing so well these days, but I live in hope of a recovery this spring.)

… My father’s mother taught me how risky it is to cheat at solitaire, because somebody might be watching. It lurks as a visceral memory from my childhood visits, spent on their farm in Iowa. She and my grandfather would sit at the kitchen table playing dominoes while I scrunched down on the floor desperately trying to win at cards. I don’t know how she did it, but she caught me every time I peeked under the top card! I still feel as if it is cheating to back track when playing spider solitaire on-line. It is as if she is still watching and questioning my judgement on taking the easy way vs. the right way. She also had an eagle eye for any attempt to steal cookies. Man, she must have had some kind of extra-space-age-rocket-radar vision!

… From my other grandmother comes the admonition, “Well you might as well give it a whirl, you’ll never get any younger to try.” A useful motivational poke from the past urging me to action.

… Friend Barbara from design school gave me two of my favorite catch phrases. Remnants of long-ago events, they are surprisingly useful, and just the thought of them still makes me laugh. One day while a group of us nattered on about how to get to our favorite watering hole, she appeared as a Deus ex machina on the school steps. Observing our indecision, she told us, “Life is too short, take a cab!” Now, whenever I find myself making decisions involving some kind of cash expenditure, I hear her voice telling me yet again … Life is too short, don’t sweat the small stuff, take a cab! She also shows up when I find myself dashing about and accomplishing sod all. I am reminded of the time we spent together working on a design project, and she dashed into the room tearing at her hair and yelling, “Oh my God, I have the mind of a chicken!” Truly a vivid description of how I feel during trying times. Just recalling her shotgun humor taking aim at stress, makes me pause, laugh, and reset myself. What is not to love about that kind of gift from the past.

All these old bits and pieces, as well as new nuggets of memory, like voices from the past continually surface surprising me with their unexpected appearance. I consider them a reserve stash of clarity in an ever-changing world, and keep them in a safe deposit box in my Bank of Sanity Unlimited.

What about you? What lovely little blips of memory … gifts of this and that … have you have acquired from others that come in handy?

6 Replies to “THIS AND THAT”

    1. Fantastic recollections Connie! And I can just hear Barbara and those words of wisdom, she hadn’t changed a bit!

  1. Delightful – especially since both you and Gail popped into my mind the other day. I enjoyed working with both of you those days. And you, Connie who would have ME pick paint colors for your kitchen! Designer, color thyself!

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