20/20 Vision

The other night I was almost asleep when one of my daughters came in and asked if she could see my old glasses. She knew I had them somewhere, but it had been a few years since any of us had opened the memory chest.

The chest is in my bedroom, so I stayed awake and waited while she dug around, looking for the glasses. I knew she had located them when she burst out laughing. Big, pink, plastic, and big. And she hadn’t even put them on her face yet.

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I have a few other pairs as well, all big and plastic and progressively stronger in prescription. “Addy!” Amy called, between snorts of laughter. “Come try on Mom’s old glasses with me.”

I’m not a keeper. I’m really pretty good about throwing out anything I haven’t used for a while or don’t suspect I’ll be using again. But I do have my hope chest, which, in actuality, has always served as a memory chest. In it are old photo albums, letters, cards, 4-H record books from when I was a kid, newspaper clippings, old glasses and mouth impressions and retainers (gross, I know), and my high school yearbooks and letter jacket. There are also things from my girls’ early years–their baptism paraphernalia and journals filled with funny things they said.

Then both girls were in my room and I was awake and reminiscing and laughing and crying for a good hour or more while we all shifted through the contents of the memory chest.

People have been mistaking my daughters for each other for most of their lives. And they’ve been asked hundreds of times if they’re twins. But my old glasses really make them look alike.

Girls 4Girls 2

Girls 3

Girls 1

Above, Amy is wearing my 8th grade glasses and my high school letter jacket while Addy reads quotes from her Quotable Kid journal.

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Addy likes opposites

That last one could have age 17 on it just as easily as age four. Addy could change moods instantly. One day I asked “How can you be so sweet and wonderful one minute and so rude and snotty the next?” Her response? “I like opposites.”

Amy’s Quotable Kid journal holds some real gems, as well.

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Leaves Falling OffG.B. sent a letter to Amy in the mail. It said, “I miss you. Frosty is doing fine. The leaves are falling off my trees. I am going to visit you soon.” After I read it to Amy she ran over to Addy and said, “The leaves are falling off G.B.’s trees so she’s going to come to our house.”

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Bless my mom for getting me a camera and letting me carry it around with me when I was just six years old and for helping me put an album together. The truck with the camper on it is the truck I drove in high school (minus the camper). My first friend, Ruthie, stuck a Barbie shoe up her nose and almost lost her ability to hear out of one ear. Before moving to Wyoming in first grade, we lived in southern California.

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There are several scrapbooks and 4-H record books from my years of showing horses and dogs and other assorted livestock. One of my first horses was Misty (named after Misty of Chincoteague, my favorite girlhood book). Misty was a brat. She often laid down and rolled while I was riding her. Santa brought her to me when I was seven. He booted her out of the sleigh while flying over our ranch and that’s where I found her. I loved her, of course, despite her unruly behavior.

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Also in the memory chest is a book that my niece, Christie, wrote and had published. She gave it to me as a gift for Christmas one year. It’s a keeper, for sure.

I’m glad I took the time to save and move (multiple times) and store all of these items. Going through them can really bring into focus, for the girls, who I was as a child and a teenager and what that does for their current image of me and themselves. They also now have a much clearer sense of what they were like when they were little and how much joy they brought (and still bring) to my daily life. And, of course, each time I look at these items, I see more and more of my parents’ effort and love. As I get further along in my parenting career, I see it all in a different light and with even greater appreciation.

Hindsight–all those small artifacts and memories and what they mean as we consider them and reconsider them at different times in our lives–brings us closer and closer to 20/20.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. theclocktowersunset
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 06:44:44

    You are so lucky Randee, or maybe not luck so much as blessed. If I’m disturbed from the edge of my fleeting rest it’s normally to run off some creature of the night be it human or otherwise. Actually I only run off the humans, the critters I don’t mind so much as long as they don’t eat my petunias. I’m happy for you and yours and thank you for making me smile this morning. Now you have new memories to add to your chest of treasures. I say that because it seems more like a treasure chest to me. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Reply

    • randee
      Feb 08, 2014 @ 10:17:41

      Clocktower, thank you once again for a thoughtful comment. Of course it’s a treasure chest, but I didn’t know that until now. With its new label, I’m sure there are plenty of other items around my home that I can toss in, items that will someday reshape our perceptions of what is and was. And thanks for reminding me that I am blessed.

      Reply

      • theclocktowersunset
        Feb 08, 2014 @ 13:15:13

        Oh, you didn’t need reminding from me. You’ve got the pictures right there. I’m a pack rat some would say, that there is junk all around my house. They don’t know, I can pull out an old cigar box full of receipts she used to get so mad at me for saving. I can read through them and remember almost every trip, arguing over which brand of pickles to buy. She’d get cut me a look, huff and roll her eyes when I’d lean in to look at the different unit prices to save money. The one time we tried a new store and we compared all the prices and everything was at least a quarter more per pound, except the onions, for some odd reason the onions were fifty cents cheaper. I added it up in the store and it was gonna cost us like an extra thirty dollars or so. Then she was so happy and said how smart I was and hug me and kiss my cheek. We put back all the perishables and left the cart of dry goods for some extra job security for an unskilled laborer. Then I noticed the manager had been following around and watching us as we went through the line at the register. He met us at the door and asked how we liked everything and if the store was up to our liking, (knowing he just lost a good hundred and something dollar sale in that cart). She thought we were in trouble for not putting everything back. How lovely. πŸ™‚ I told the man he had a good price on onions and we left. We laughed when we got in the truck and she said how glad she was I paid attention and kept track of the prices in my little grocery shopping booklet. I can read those receipts all night long and remember holidays, big meals for family visits, impulse buys. Those are my treasures. Anybody else can call them trash or junk all they want, but I love them.

      • randee
        Feb 08, 2014 @ 15:10:51

        Well, I could ask all kinds of questions here, but I’m learning. Learning to just wait until you feel like squeezing another tidbit put of the eyedropper. I should have it mostly pieced together by the time I’m 80. For now I’ll just say this: I’m surprised you had a little grocery shopping booklet. I would expect you’d keep track of all that in your head.

      • theclocktowersunset
        Feb 08, 2014 @ 16:31:03

        I was writing a reply and zAp! It started over so you might get one and a half, I’ll change it up a bit just in case you do. I would write down what I thought the price would be for each item, then take a little more than I thought I needed. Then in the store I would write down the actual price. It was a little game I learned to play when I first lived on my own and was budgeting on cash. Whatever was left was for new things/spontaneous eye catching deals or for whatever she wanted. I would date the pages and mark the stores, one booklet could have a couple years in it. That way I could track what was in season across the world or if countries might be at odds with each other and charging higher tariffs. Or just the price of crude went up affecting shipping, all sorts of things like that. But that was then, now I just buy essentials, rice, beans, canned veggies, some fresh fruit or vegetables if it’s cheap. I go on Thursdays and check what’s left in the meat dept for pot roasts or hams whatever has the bright orange price tags on it. I’ll portion it up at home and freeze it, but I really don’t eat meat anyways so I always have at least one freezer full of meat to share with neighbors or family when I visit. I can eat for under a dollar a day if I want to, mind you I’m a scratch chef so I eat well regardless. So would you if’n you found yourself at my table. Although I would probably cook up something a little more fancy than a casserole or pot of beans and rice with cornbread. Ooooooh, I make the best cornbread. You can’t beat it, no way, no how. πŸ˜‰

      • randee
        Feb 08, 2014 @ 18:44:58

        You should have picked something other than cornbread because I maybe could beat your cornbread. I can only make about ten things, but I have some pretty good cornbread (it’s half yellow cake mix, that’s why).

      • theclocktowersunset
        Feb 08, 2014 @ 19:48:36

        Just be forewarned, this will not be my first cornbread throwdown. πŸ˜‰

      • randee
        Feb 09, 2014 @ 09:32:44

        I’ll let you know if I’m in the area for a taste test.

  2. navigator1965
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 07:09:33

    What a lovely post. Such lovely young ladies for daughters, too.

    Reply

  3. Anonymous
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 16:58:27

    Another misty-eyed moment reading your post. We did have some good years on the farm. Love you.

    Reply

  4. gapark
    Feb 09, 2014 @ 10:01:05

    This post made me sad….for the chest I inherited from my grandfather when I was a teen and filled with all my treasures. I carried it with me into my marriage but married someone who prefers New to Old and it went the way of my spool bed and other antiques during our many moves with the military. I watched Episode 3 of Sherlock on PBS recently and now, like Charles Augustus Magnusson, all my memorabilia is in my “memory palace.” It would be fun to poke through such a chest, as you do, and relive those memories with a more concrete item to trigger them. Hmmm. Maybe I will try an exercise of recreating what was in the chest. A Memory Game made that much harder with the passing of time, but worth the effort? thanks for the thoughtful post, and I love the drawing of you by Christina~

    Reply

    • randee
      Feb 09, 2014 @ 21:03:07

      One thing I learned the other night while we were going through this stuff is that it’s not too late to be adding more to the chest (i.e., you could start a chest now!). There is so much in there that helps us understand each other on a deeper level. I know I have stuff laying around this house that really should be in the chest. Who knows – maybe the next generation or two or more will dig through it. Another reader called it my “treasure chest” instead of my “memory chest.” I liked that. Thanks for reading and commenting, as always. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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