Memories That Aren’t Mine—CoronoaLife Day 474

I have been working this week on putting together photos for a family gathering we are having. As I go through these old photo albums, every picture is like an old friend. I remember the people in them, and the stories behind them…except that I don’t.

Some of these photos are from when my great-grandparents were young. They are my grandparents growing up. They are my father and his siblings as children. They are from when I was too young to have memories of those events.

Yet I remember them.

Not actually remember, of course. But I have been told many of the stories of these photos, and as the family historian I know who most of the people are and where and when they were taken.

The photos below, for instance, is of my grandfather giving me a stuffed rabbit at Easter. I don’t remember it. But I have been told about it enough to feel like I do.


My family lived in Germany at the time, and my grandparents flew over to visit. It was only the 2nd time they had seen me. Looking at the photos, I obviously was thrilled with the bunny, and my grandfather delighted in giving it to me.

My grandfather died when I was 3 years old. I have no actual memories of him. But I still have the rabbit, his well-loved ears floppy and his bright burnt-sienna coat faded closer to tan. And I have the picture, and those together connect me to a grandfather I never knew.

Every picture is a connection across time and space. I never saw my young grandmother in the play pictured in the album, but I was in the theater for many years and know how it felt. I never knew the house where my father and his siblings played with their cousins, but I remember playing with my cousins at family houses. I wasn’t at my grandmother’s graduation, but I have graduated. I was not there for these exact events, but the emotions are familiar, resonating down the years, weaving me into the tapestry of my family history.

As the family historian and a storyteller myself, every picture is a window into an entire world. I don’t know who will carry that world when I am gone. So far no one has stepped forward to pass the stories on to. Perhaps those stories will be consigned, as most of our memories are, to the dustbin of history.

But until then, their stories live, and the people in them live. The Egyptians believed that you never truly died until the last time someone mentioned your name. Maybe that’s what drives some people to want fame—a quest for a type of immortality.

I am not so arrogant to think that my family’s names will live forever. But for now, I am the keeper of the flame, and I am honored to hold their lives—and their memories—in my heart.

48 Years

Today my best friend Donna should have turned 48 years old…but she is forever 32. Cancer took her much too soon.

Donna was more of a sister than a friend, and I feel her loss keenly even after 16 years. There are many things I miss about her, of course, but for me what I always miss most is the laughter.

She could make me laugh until I cried like nobody else. And she did it on a regular basis.

These last few years have been rough for a number of reasons, the last few months especially. I could use her laughter right now.

So today I am missing my friend while remembering with gladness the 18 years of friendship we had.

I miss you, Donna. I miss the laughter.

I always think of her when I hear this song:

Summer is a Beach

Summer night at the harborSummer is over, my daughter is back in school. And although I am glad to get back to a routine and overjoyed to get my writing time back, I found myself thinking about what summer means to me. While images of ice cream, heat waves, and the pool popped into my head, the brightest image by far was that of the beach.

Having said that, I will say that I am not an all-day-every-day beach person. If I get to the beach a few times a summer, I am happy. I dislike the heat and the sunscreen and those nasty greenhead flies. But I do find something soothing in the sun on the water, the warm breeze, and the roar of the surf. Water has always been a soother of my soul.

This year, my daughter got to the beach more than I did. She went with Daddy while at the Gans Family Reunion, and while I was at the Ocean City Authors Showcase. She described the waves the day of the Showcase as “fierce.” But she had a good time.

I went with her (and my mother) to the Long Island Sound during our last week of summer. We spent a day on the beach, building sandcastles…

summer sand castle on the beach

Catching fish in a bucket (released back into the water)…

fish in a bucket

And swimming in the calm water.

Summer day on the Long Island Sound

As the tide went out, sand bars appeared and we were able to walk to “islands” far out in the water. Daughter named one of them Mossy Rock Island because of the algae-covered rocks all around the sand bar.

It was a relaxing day (aside from the bees attacking my daughter), and we all enjoyed whiling away the time. The water chilled at first touch, but then became pleasant—especially as the tide went out, creating warm shallow pools between the beach and sand bars.

We finished off our vacation at the playground near the harbor, where hundreds of boats bobbed peacefully in the sunset.

Summer sunset at the harbor

A wonderful way to end the summer.

Summer means beach to me because I lived my whole life close to the beach. Other people don’t live near the water. What does summer mean to you? What memories of summers past do you cherish most?




WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien