I Don’t Live In The Past, But I Treasure The Gifts Associated To Memory


Is it really a gift if it comes with strings attached? For that matter, what do you give to someone who already has everything? Those are only two of the questions that came to mind as I lay in bed this morning contemplating the day. I listened as the grandfather clocks struck both 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. Finally, I decided to get out of bed. Why not have a cup of coffee?


It is now 4:36 a.m. and I’m having my first cup of coffee. Why it took me so long, I don’t know. I guess I’m just full of questions this morning. What I am now wondering is why? Truth be known, I no longer like the taste of coffee. Three or four years ago, I opted to do away with sweetener in my coffee. I was using the artificial stuff in the pink packet. Someone mentioned that wasn’t healthy. If it really wasn’t healthy, why not stop? Okay, so I made a responsible choice and now I really don’t like the taste of coffee.


I think I mostly keep drinking coffee because I like the aroma. Please hear me say, I’m not talking about the Folgers brand my parents enjoyed for the totality of their years. In fact, whenever they came to visit us, they complained about the flavored coffees we had on hand. Actually, that’s not true. My mother complained about the flavored coffees we had on hand. My dad wasn’t a complainer. Mother was a lot like me. She liked having things done her way. Dad was easy going. Consequently, Mom seldom had anything to complain about.


During my childhood years, my paternal grandparents lived next door. Consequently, I was as at home at their house as I was at mine. Never ever did I feel anything but welcomed and loved. I first developed the taste for coffee in their home. In fact, thinking back, I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed a cup of coffee as much as I enjoyed one with them. To call what Granny served me coffee is to take liberties most of you wouldn’t take, particularly if you like coffee. My blend was mostly milk with a little coffee and a lot of sugar thrown in. I can still envision the smile on my face as I often sat at the table with my grandparents while the three of us enjoyed a cup of coffee.


I guess I’m being a little sentimental this morning. Yet out of that venue come intense feelings of gratitude for the people who have filled my life with joy. The relational legacy I’ve been given by extended family that are now on the other side of eternity continues to be a source of energy and support for my life. My memories are good. I don’t live in the past, but I cherish the treasured gifts associated with memory.


Yesterday was a lazy day. The General is right. Everywhere you look around our place there is something that needs to be done. After a week and a half of rain, the lawn is lush and green. So are the weeds that have sprouted in the flowerbeds and are now two feet tall. Yesterday’s rain was not drenching, but it was steady and consistent. I opted not to do yard work.


I mentioned that my mother liked having things done her way. I guess you could say I married someone just like Mom. The only problem is, as I mentioned before, I took after my mother in that respect as well. There in lies the problem. I want it done my way. The General wants it done her way. Sometimes our opinions our divided.


Honest to God, at times the General can frustrate me to no end. She knows she’s making me nuts and she doesn’t care. She wants it done her way. Besides that, I’ve always been a little crazy. Consequently, she’s not owning the fact that she’s pushing my buttons and driving me crazy.  She sees it as my problem.  Actually, I think she sees me as the problem!


Let me give you the back-story. We live in the country and we do not have close neighbors. Our home is located on an elevated ridge that gives us a good view of the countryside. Consequently, we opted to maximize the view. The entire back of our home is glass. It was built for the view. When we moved into our home, we had wooden venation blinds custom made for the front of the house. We needed them because the front of the house gets the west sun. For the back of the house we opted to leave it open. It was that outside/inside feel. We didn’t cover the windows with anything. We didn’t need to do anything for privacy. We are far enough from the road that we have impervious cover from folks seeing inside.   As far as we know, the cows, horses and goats don’t care what they see. Consequently, there was no need to cover the windows.


About four years ago the General noticed that some of our pictures were fading from the sun. Consequently, the easy fix was plantation shutters and a pocket full of change to pay for them. Because of the cost, the General only wanted to cover the windows in the back. After all we had stained wooden blinds in the front. “No deal” was my response. If we’re going to install plantation shutters, they go everywhere. Okay, so now we have shutters.


Since the back of our house doesn’t get the west sun in the evening, we leave the shutters open in the afternoon and evening. Guess what? The General shuts the shutters when it gets dark. That makes me crazy! She doesn’t care. She’d rather have me crazy than have the shutters open.


Do you remember Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on his delegate-desk at the United Nations General Assembly held in New York in 1960? He was vividly protesting a speech made by a Philippine delegate. It was the era of the cold war. Some think the Russian leader had impulse control issues. Maybe I do as well. Yesterday when we discussed my need for the General to leave the shutters open, I wanted to pound my shoe on a desk as a ploy to get her undivided attention. That, too, wouldn’t have done any good. She is going to do what she want to do.


Recently, one of the shutters in our bedroom got damaged when a chair got pushed into the shutter. No, the General and I were not fighting and throwing chairs. It was accidental and the cause will remain a mystery. At any rate, I dedicated a portion of yesterday to try to resolve the problem. It looks fixed, but it really isn’t. Consequently, it serves our best interest to go with the “it looks fixed” look and stop opening and closing the shutters. Simple solution? Not if you’re married to the General. If I can’t repair it correctly, bring in an expert. Okay guys, “Do you feel my pain?” The General is making me nuts!


Okay, rant done! Getting back to sentimental feelings, the General wanted me to move a chair from our bedroom out to the sun-porch last night. Of course to do that, I needed to remove the dead plants from the area where she wanted the chair. As it turns out, the chair that we moved previously belonged to my parents. Now that it is on the sun porch it has a prominent place in the reading nook. Its presence serves as a trigger for wonderful memories from the past. I went with mother when she picked out the chair and matching sofa. The chair still looks like new and I still like the look.


That brings me back to the question I asked in my opening sentence. “Is it really a gift if it comes with strings attached?” I think it was Christmas of 1992. Not knowing what to get my parents for Christmas that year, I opted to make a large open bookcase for their home. Trust me, it isn’t fine furniture, but it was the best I could do. When I gave it to them it was with the caveat: “When you no longer need this, I’d like to have it back.” They were very open to that and enjoyed the bookcase for many years.


It now has a prominent place in our entry hall. Like I said, it is not fine furniture. Most of you probably wouldn’t want it in your home.  The thing that makes the bookcase special is the memories it triggers. Mine is a legacy of love. There is no greater gift.


All My Best!



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