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THE MAGICAL MEMORY BOX
July 27, 2014
Tonight we invited my mother to come to dinner so she could have corn on the cob, which is one of her favorite things (they don't serve corn on the cob in an old folks home. That would just be cruel...but she has all her own teeth, so she can eat corn perfectly. In fact, her father had no teeth and he could clean corn off a cob better than those of us with teeth could! But I digress.)
It was like planning a play date. I had the food planned, the table set, the flowers in place, and even the activities arranged.
When we moved her out of her house, one of the things that ended up here was a big wooden box which I had never seen before. It contained memorabilia of her graduation from Galt High in 1937. The last time she was here, on Mother's Day, she and Ned looked through the box, but I knew she would not have remembered it, so I planned to show it to her again tonight.
I was right. She didn't remember ever seeing it before, and she was delighted to see it now.
There were her varsity letters (she was apparently a good athlete), her diploma, a bunch of photos of friends (including one guy who looked like Jack Lescoulie. His name was Foster and apparently he had been one of her boyfriends...this was news to me).
There was also a filled autograph book. I swear every student in the school signed a page, with such timeless prose as Roses are red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is sweet and so are you and When you get married and your old man gets cross, come over here and eat applesauce and Some love the tulips that grow in the park but I like the two lips that meet in the dark.
She read every single one, rolling her eyes at how corny they were and would say, scornfully, "Wasn't that clever?"
But on one page was a real find. This drawing was done by my aunt Betsy, who was, in her adult life, a professional artist...but this was 1937 and she was just two years older than my mother, so was probably 20. But already I can see the style that she would adopt later.
Betsy is the reason my parents married. She was working as a caricaturist at the Golden Gate International Exhibit on Treasure Island in 1939. It was a World's Fair, a celebration of the two newly completed bridges in San Francisco. Somehow at the fair she met my father and later insisted my mother needed to meet him. The rest, as they say, is history.
But she signed the autograph book, as did my aunt Barb, 4 years younger than my mother.
She read every single entry, alternately laughing about them, or being exasperated because they all seemed so childish.
And when she finished reading them, she read them all over again, as if she was seeing them for the first time.
But it was perfect. Gave me time to cook the lamb chops and the corn and she was amazed when I gave her a demonstration of the new-to-me method of shucking the corn cleanly and easily.
After dinner I gave her an ice cream cone and when she finished that she was pleased that I asked if she wanted to go home--because she did. Walt had taken her clean laundry over when he picked her up earlier, but though we mentioned it several times, she never did seem to remember that there is clean laundry in her apartment. I hope the clothes don't end up back at the front desk again. I also gave her her pill container for next week. She put it in her purse and I know she isn't going to remember it's there, but I decided to wait until tomorrow and then call her and remind her where the pills are, so she can take them.
It was really a delightful evening and I'm thinking maybe we should plan dinners like this maybe once a month -- more often would be too often for her, I think.
I wonder how many more times I can show her the Magical Memory Box
and have it be a new and wondrous thing!
100 HAPPY DAYS
Day 27 -- Happiness is watching my mother devour an ear of corn
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