Friday morning I awoke to NPR as I do most mornings. They played a segment from the Story Corp project that really tugged at my heart strings. The clip was of a man who had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease speaking with his wife about his memory and living in the moment with his family. My thoughts immediately turned to my grandmother, Carol Jean Mitchell, who struggled with that disease before passing away in 2002. She was taken mercifully before it got to the later stages.
As I lay there in bed, trying to hold back the tears of emotion and memory, I got to thinking about what I was doing (or not doing) to preserve memories of loved ones who have passed on. Those memories have become less concrete and more fluid as time marches forward, and it concerns me that I might be losing them.
So, I got an idea.
What if I posted my memories of Grandma and asked all of you to do the same? Then maybe all together we wouldn’t forget. So here it is: a solicitation for memories. I’ll start.
I remember the tortilla chip and cheddar cheese apple pie debacle, complete with melted wax sprinkles. She had a way of improvising when the required ingredients weren’t available that was either a hit or completely flopped. Uncle John has never had such a creative birthday dessert before or since.
I remember stories of growing up in Alamo, Nevada during the Great Depression. She played the trombone in the band. She went with the band to play somewhere important. I can’t remember where.
I remember making her cry when we got frustrated as children that she couldn’t play the movie we wanted to watch on the VCR. I have never felt like such a horrible person in my whole life as I did right then.
I remember getting all excited every time a brown UPS truck drove by our house, hoping they would deliver a package from Grandma containing treasures like toys she got for us from Pic ‘n Save and Twinkies.
I remember all the neighbor kids there in North Las Vegas coming over for every fund raiser under the sun and leaving not only meeting their quota, but also with a popsicle or ice cream from the freezer. She was the grandma for the whole block.
I know there’s more, but it slips my mind right now. What do you all remember?