Friday, August 28, 2015


Someone asked me last week “How are you celebrating your birthday?” I said “No special way. No one notices my date except a few close friends, my Sis, and my adult children.”  As I reflected, I thought how important Mother made of Sis and my birthdays.  She even had “Happy Unbirthdays” to celebrate with us. She loved giving us gifts like a bracelet, a book, or a new dress.  She reminded us weekly, if not daily, how much she loved us. Throughout my growing years I wanted a cake baked by Mother to sit on the tiny footed cake plate she bought for me.  It had to be decorated in pink letters made of sugar that said, "Happy Birthday  Vivian."  That plate is still as colorful as when the first cake sat there eighty years ago.

I married a man who rarely remembers dates of any kind. The few times he has and has produced a gift, I’ve been surprised.  Early in our marriage I usually got a flower pot or something worth giving Goodwill. I decided I didn’t need any more flower pots so I insisted he not worry about my special date. Then he began taking me to dinner. That lasted three years.  Here’s a man who, with each of three children born, gave the hospital nurse three different dates for my birthday. We had been married five, six and ten years at the time. The fact that he’s still living and talking to me every day is gift enough.

Sunday I’m turning 83 and I don’t care about a present. I need a hug and a vocal “Happy Birthday, love you”.  I don’t mind if they add, “Old gal.”  I’m excited to be my age and in decent good health.  That is the best gift I could receive.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


   In the last years of my life I’ve had to make sacrifices. The material kind. Moving out precious memories in the forms of travel items, writing materials, cooking vessels — about anything I’ve accumulated in sixty years of marriage and eighty years of living
   Today I spied a white box sitting in the living room.  I intended checking the contents and discarding any and all within. Inside were the best annuals I’d collected from my own school and college attendances. Also were a number of yearbooks from the various school in which I’d taught.  For the next hour I revisited those schools, remembering the students I either taught or  with those I came in daily contact. I mulled over each photo on every page.  I searched the faculty and could count most of them had passed.  Only a few like me were still functioning. 
   Yearbooks are memories we want to cling to.  High school was a remarkable experience. In her article “Why You Truly Never Leave High School,” published in New York Magazine (Jan. 20, 2013), Jennifer Senior makes these observations based on studies by sociologist, developmental neuroscientists and psychologists:
   “Not everyone feels the sustained, melancholic presence of a high-school shadow self. There are some people who simply put in their four years, graduate, and that’s that. But for most of us adults,s the adolescent years occupy a privileged place in our memories, which, to some degree, is even quantifiable: Give a grown adult a series of random prompts and cues, and odds are he or she will recall a disproportionate number of memories from adolescence.”
   Senior goes on to state the music sung and danced to as adolescents remains with us throughout life.  Oh,  I’m happy to know that music of the 1930s and 1940s I still enjoy listening to is okay.  I can sing almost every line of every song written and performed over the radio. I’m okay, the writer says, since neuroscience has proven this.
   To round out my family stories I searched Google for a list of 100 songs of the 1940s and spent  time going through the list singing as many lines as possible.  I thought printing that to include with my memoirs would tickle the readers who take my place in this world.  
   Who writes songs with titles like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” Ac Cent Tchu Ate the Positive”, “Shoo, Shoo, Baby,” or “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy?”  These songs covered all aspects of living. Also during WWII love songs and patriotic songs kept our spirits high.
   So it is with the yearbooks I’ve kept from 1949 until 1994.  They comprise pictures of life which swirled around me as I grew to became an adult.  They comfort me, more than reunions with people I don’t recognize but once taught or shared a classroom.  My hope is my descendants will hold onto these memories as a keepsake of what life was like in “the old days.”