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img_5953Years ago, my grandmother gave me her Belleek tea set. The set was packaged up very carefully by my mom more than 25 years ago so that it would be safe since at the time I wasn’t married and didn’t have a place for it. It has been packed away safely like that up until last year, when I finally worked up the courage to unpack that box. It required a complete rearrangement of the cabinet that would host it in order to clear a special shelf for the delicate Irish bone china set that was cherished by my grandmother.

When I unpacked the box, I realized that while I had the tea cups, saucers, dessert plates, creamer and sugar bowl, I did not have the tea pot. Somewhere in my mind, the tea pot was supposed to be there, but sadly it must have got damaged all those years ago and never made it into the box so carefully packed. For Christmas one year ago, my husband bought me a Belleek tea pot with the same pattern as the tea cups.  I now had a complete set, but still not enough courage to actually use it.

Today, more than a quarter century later, it was finally used and enjoyed. Four of us carefully took down the pot, cups and saucers, brewed some delicious tea (Monkey Picked Oolong) and enjoyed that beautiful china Nanny gave to me all those years ago. Somewhere, I am certain she was smiling, watching her great grandson, his girlfriend, Tom and I enjoy a few cups of tea and the warm, delightful memories of family on a cold winter afternoon.

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john-harrington-peace-corps

Photo credit: Peace Corps

There are people who enter your life and leave an indelible impression on your soul. Ones that impart lessons and leave a mark that lives with you for all your days. When you least expect it, you hear their words echo in your head or feel their presence as if they were there with you. For me, one of those persons was a man that I met as an employer, learned to admire and respect and became a second dad to me as I grew into the woman that I have become. When I lost my own father, he was someone that was always there to lend a gentle, guiding hand – a person who was truly happy and proud of my accomplishments, much as my own dad would have been if he were still with me. I came to know his family, watched his daughters grow into wonderful, amazing women of whom he was immensely proud.

Today is his birthday. The last time I spoke to him was on this day several years ago, just prior to his death. Unbeknown to me at the time, he was ill and would died less than two weeks later from an unknown ailment that he most likely acquired while he was doing something that he loved and aspired to do for a very long time, working with the Peace Corps. He taught me lots of lessons in the years that I had known him, how to be a good lawyer, how to treat people fairly, how to be ethical in my profession and how to never be afraid to learn something new. I remember that when his daughters learned the violin, he took lessons right alongside them, never having played the violin himself. He decided that he wanted to learn Spanish (which he would later use in the Peace Corps) so he enrolled in college to take Spanish lessons. He learned Pilates and took dance lessons. He was known for the fedora hats that he sported on a daily basis, both around town and in the courthouse. He was a proud Marine and the father of three West Point graduates.

He taught me that a lot of things can be worked through with a simple “walk around the block”.

He was, for all intents and purposes, in the decades that I knew him, a second father. I cried almost as much as I cried for my own dad when I learned that he passed away. Just like my dad was the only one to call me “Babe”, John was the only one who could call me “Kiddo” (beside my own husband) and get away with it.

After he passed away I made a trip to New Jersey to help his wife go through old files. I sat on the floor of the room that contained years of legal work, much of which I was a part of, and cried alongside her. They were, and still are, like family.

You never know when the stranger that entered your life will leave that kind of mark. You never know how you are touched by those, once strangers, who become family. You never know how they will shape the person you become. Just like I miss my own dad, I miss him too. I always think of him when June 15th rolls around and smile. He was one of a kind and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Happy Birthday John Dolan Harrington, you are very much missed.

Yesterday was the day that drive-in theaters were first created in of all places — New Jersey. They were originally referred to as “park-in theaters” and the first one was created by a gentlemen by the name of Richard Hollingshead. He was a sales manager at his father’s auto parts store in Camden, New Jersey and an avid movie fan. After several attempts at trying to make movies and motor vehicles compatible, the young Hollingshead mounted a Kodak projector on the hood of his car, mounted a screen on a nearby tree and used a radio behind the screen for sound. His idea was patented in May 1933 and one month and $30,000 later, his idea became reality – the first drive in theater was created.

The drive-in theater was wildly popular in the 1950s and 1960s and waned in popularity thereafter. At one time, it is reported that there were over 5,000 drive-in theaters in the United States and now there are approximately 500 that still remain open.

I have very distinct memories of traveling to the Route 303 drive-in located just over the border in Rockland County when I was younger. On a warm summer evening, my brother, sister and I along with our parents would pile into the station wagon, the pre-cursor to today’s SUV or minivan and drive the 25 or so minutes to the drive-in. We would get to leave the house in our pajamas with our toys, blankets and pillows. There was always the stop at the deli in Northvale to get salads and cold cuts for sandwiches. I remember specifically that my parents would park right in front of the deli so that they could leave us in the car while they went inside to get the goodies. There was an incline and I being the worrywart that I was at my young age, would panic that the car was going to tip over. My sister would love to take advantage of this totally ridiculous fear and purposely sit on the “downhill” side of the car, bouncing around just enough to give my young self a near heart attack, fearing that our car would flip over and we would all die. In later years, driving by that same deli and the “hill” in front that I was so darn afraid of, made me laugh. It was not nearly as ominous as the imagination of a 9 or 10 year-old made it out to be and absolutely no danger of anything rolling down that hill, much less tipping over while parked on it.

After securing our goodies, there was the short trip to the actual theater. There, we would drive on up to the entrance and pay our fee to get in and then enter the seemingly “immense” parking area with its cool playground and refreshment stand. Sometimes, if we were good, during intermission, we were allowed to do both – play in the playground and also get a special treat from the refreshment stand.

Here are some pictures of that drive-in theater that was such a big part of my early memories.

Photo:www.newyorkdriveins.com

Photo:www.newyorkdriveins.com

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, you find yourself amazed at how some little inconsequential thing to you means so much more to someone else. I am often reminded of this when talking to my boys, they will remember some unmemorable event, some simple thing that we once did together or said or laughed about and cling to it. To them, it has significance far beyond the thing itself – it is tied with a memory of some type which has taken root in their brain. Often, we don’t even remember the event, or even the day, we have filed it under inconsequential, unmemorable.

You never know the impact you have on someone or what some little thing that you might have offhandedly forgotten all about might have on someone else. Don’t discount that what you do or didn’t do for someone didn’t matter or was insignificant. Simple innocuous acts can ripple and have effects that you never thought imaginable.

Tonight, we were at a meeting at someone’s house when it was interrupted by a stranger at the person’s door, asking for a ride into town because his vehicle was not able to be driven. While the stranger was unrecognizable to us, we later learned that he was a classmate of one of our boys, a child that we had met only a couple times and who had been over to our house several years for literally two times. Neither was eventful, your typical play date. As I drove home I was struck by the fact that this child, on the verge of adulthood, whom I no longer recognized, immediately recognized us, the parents, calling us by name. It sent chills up my spine that two seemingly insignificant afternoons at my house more than 3 years ago caused this child who I haven’t seen since, to remember us. What had we done that had caused him to immediately recall us? What impact did our severely limited contact with this boy have that he would recognize and recall us after such a long period? Makes you wonder. He was no different than the dozens of kids that have graced our threshold since and was treated no differently. Makes me wonder. What happened on those two visits was evidently enough to trigger a quick and solid recollection when he saw us despite his distress.

When I think back into my own memories, I recall things that may have happened so long ago, but are as clear as if they happened only yesterday. Are those memories,which are so clear still in my mind because of the way I was treated or mistreated, forgotten in someone else’s?

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” ~~Scott Adams

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antipastoAntipasto. We used to have it at every holiday meal. A large (or maybe two) tray of a variety of meats, cheeses, peppers, lettuce and tomatoes that, as its name translates was served “before the meal”. Its origins are Italian but my dad, who enjoyed antipasto probably more than the meal itself, wasn’t. Irish as the inside of the Blarney Stone, although he had a smattering of mutt thrown in for good measure. I think he married into antipasto since my mom’s parents were both Italian and the holidays were clearly excuses to eat…a lot…especially of the things you only had but once or twice a year.

I can clearly remember the large glass trays that we used and the preparation. I bet every family has their own version. First, the layer of lettuce, then the layer of sliced tomato, then the layers of cheeses, provolone, some prosciutto, cappicola, some genoa salami, a sprinkling of pepperoncini, some cherry peppers, olives. There were additions but usually no deletions. The tray was piled high and hardly any of it was left over when the first course was through.We wouldn’t think of a holiday without it — I think my dad would have cried. I personally think it was his favorite part.

This afternoon, I was making up a shopping list for our Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing big — just our family and my sister and her family – as low stress and casual as Thanksgiving can get. I asked Tom who was sitting nearby if I was forgetting anything from the list and threw out an appetizer before dinner and then “antipasto?” It was like a blast from the past. I have not made an antipasto since my dad passed away. Why? I don’t really know, I’m sure that my boys would probably love it and enjoy it, but somehow it just wouldn’t be the same. Dad was the one that lived for the antipasto and I don’t know if it would be the same without him at the table to join us. Perhaps it’s nothing more than a subconscious sign of respect to recognize the fact that he no longer sits at the holiday table with us. I can’t seem to put my heart into it when he’s not here to enjoy it, considering it really was because of my dad that it was included with every holiday meal regardless of the occasion.

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The past few days have been pretty crazed and I have been admittedly, pretty mopey. I think that in trying not to think about things, I have been thinking about them even more. My concentration sucks and I really feel very detached from everything and everyone. Poor little me. To make matters worse, my itching is driving me insane, although just about the only spot that is not itchy and I really need and want (god that is sick) it to be, is my shin. I want to have it get inflamed, get the biopsies done and get the whole deal over with. Finality… in one way or the other. My nerves are getting the better of me and my mood. Tom has been a doll and he has distracted me doing his best to keep me laughing through all of this…or at least not crying.

Anyhow, enough of me and my poor pathetic self. We are supposed to get snow, evidently, the first real storm of anywhere between 3 and 8 inches of snow tonight into tomorrow. A little white magic to change the world outside my window and my mood would be delightful.

At dinner tonight, we were discussing those family members that we miss. A few weeks ago, my oldest son literally grabbed me in the middle of little country fair and dragged me over to a booth of baked goods. “Smell.” He directed. “Doesn’t it smell just like Nanny’s house?” Wow. Talk about a blast from the past. Tom’s grandmother, to whom he was referring has been dead for some years now, but it was nice to know that the boys still think of, and remember her. LIkewise, we were discussing his uncle and my aunt, and how each of them would have enjoyed Vermont and our children and our friends and neighbors here. Tom’s Uncle Duane was very much like my father and quite honestly, the two of them would have gotten along great and both we would have had to evict physically from our house since they would have loved it so much here. Another person I think of often and miss, is my Aunt Mary. She was a lively, fun person and we always looked forward to her visits and her delicious pies during the holidays. She would show up in a car literally with the backseat filled with pies of all different types. Yummy. No one has been able to re-create those or her delicious stuffing, although we all have tried mighty hard. She would have loved my boys and I know that they would have adored her. It is funny to think of those people who are gone in body but their spirit lives on in our memories. Brings tears to my eyes since these thoughts have often, of late, crossed my mind.

Evilwife on the move

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