This past summer has been a blast for my husband and me. Among other things, we have traveled the country spending time with our grandkids. The memories are good to call on when we pine for those we love that don’t live near us. I was looking through pictures last week and realized I had not gotten any of my grandchildren in California. I think that was because we truly were very busy helping my step-daughter and her kids move into a new house and all of us were just plain tuckered out at the end of the day. Also I admit, it is hard to pin down teenagers for pictures. And if I am honest, I don’t always think about picking up the camera because I guess you could say I am more about creating memories than capturing them for future viewing.
I always learn a great deal in our travels and that week I learned something very valuable indeed. I learned that the funny thing about memories is that they not only serve to warm us when we are feeling distanced from loved ones, they can teach us lessons even while we are creating them.
One memory I have no physical picture of, but will carry with me forever, is when Keith and I took our teenage grandson, Tom, out for dinner. We talked about school, his girlfriend, and his future plans for college while we enjoyed delicious and filling Mexican food. At the end of the meal Tom asked if we wanted to go to the candy store down the street.
“Oh, Tom. I don’t think so. I am so full, I couldn’t eat another thing,” I told him.
“Gramma, it isn’t about the food, it’s about the atmosphere. It has a lot of stuff from the ‘good ole days’ that I think you will like.” He convinced me. Off we went with full bellies into a candy store and a walk down memory lane.
I hate trite sayings. But that evening I was truly transformed into the proverbial kid in the candy store. Keith and I were the little children, and Tom was our guide through this magical world. Obviously he had been in a similar store prior to this evening. He delighted in showing his grandparents around the rows filled with Howdy Doody, Three Stooges and Roy Rogers memorabilia. There was an entire shelf of Beemans, Blackjack and Cloves gum along with Pez candies, ribbon candy, and Twizler’s licorice in many flavors. There were multicolored jelly beans tucked into boxes built to resemble little black and white television sets. It was hard to resist the chocolate guitars in the section dedicated to Elvis. My personal favorite was a poster of Lucille Ball in a chef’s hat stuffing her face full of chocolates while working as an inspector in a candy factory. Ms. Ball’s picture overlooked an enormous counter covered with every kind of chocolate bon-bon and truffle imaginable.
Some of these items are still available or even popular today. But many have simply been tucked away into quaint little shops offering the patron a glimpse into the 50’s and 60’s. For those of us who lived those years, stores like this bring back memories of the best of our childhood and teenage years.
When we left the store with sacks of some of my favorite culinary treats, my grandson looked at me with a beaming smile and said, “It’s fun to revisit the ‘good ole days’ huh Gramma?” It was probably one of the sweetest (pardon the pun) things I have ever experienced. So rare are the moments when we can connect with a younger generation and share the things from our past in a way that brings joy and laughter to all. And I was touched that Tom wanted to share that experience with us that evening.
I thanked him for his awesome suggestion of going into this little store. That night I tucked the memory away for safe keeping so I could bring it out on a cold winter’s day when Tom is hundreds of miles away and I am wondering how his final year in high school is going. Then I realized yes, it is fun to dance through memories of our lives. But being fully present during the making of a memory is perhaps the best of all practices one can master.
I prayed that night, as I do every night, for God to protect and guide all my kids and grandkids. Then I sent a mental message to Tom as I drifted into sleep, “Dearest grandson, thank you for helping us create this memory and for reminding me that THESE are the good ole days.”
Copyright September 2012
Lakewood, CO 80401