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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

The day before President Kennedy was killed in Dallas, my elementary school class lined up along Broadway in San Antonio to view his motorcade. Here is my story…

It was 1963 and school buzzed with excitement. I wore my Sunday best, just as the teacher told us, with two petticoats billowing my skirt like an umbrella, and my lace-edged socks peeking up over my shiny, black patent leather Mary Jane shoes. Mommy made me wear my finest sweater with pearled buttons and roses embroidered on the front.

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courtesy of eureka.org.il

The bell sounded and, just as we practiced twice, we paraded single file across the playground and through the chain-link fence to stand along Broadway. Fifth graders lined up first, then on down the line to the kindergarteners. I was ten, so my 4th grade class lined up next. Teachers handed out little American flags for us to wave. We waited. The sun bared down on us from a cloudless sky—it was November, and the seventy-three degree temperature meant an Indian summer lingered in Texas. I sweltered in my sweater. Excitement mounted when we heard the roar of motorcycles and the honking horns coming around the bend.

San Antonio, Texas was known for parades because every year there was a celebration of Texas Independence from Mexico called Fiesta Week.  Kind of a Mardi Gras, Texas style. Bands marched as twirlers tossed their batons high in the air. Each year we would line up as King Antonio rode by in his Cadillac convertible and threw Fiesta coins and candy for the school children. But today wasn’t anything like that. It was ten times more exciting. Today, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was coming.

“I wonder what color it will be?”  Sherry, my best, and fashion conscious, friend asked.

“What?” I had to yell over the din of the motorcade.

“Jackie’s hat. Think it will be yellow?”

I barely had time to respond when there she was, prettier in person than on television,  sporting a cream colored outfit and a black scarf-like hat, waving next to her husband—the President of the United States. And Governor Connolly, too. I sucked in my breath.

The motorcade stopped. President Kennedy got out, walked over to our class, and shook children’s hands. Jackie followed, smiling. So did men in sunglasses and dark suits. They were not smiling.

The President shook my hand. His smile dazzled me. I dropped my little flag. My teacher picked it up and whispered some stern words. I didn’t care. I still felt his strong, warm grip even though he was now headed back to his limousine convertible.

I had heard about people who meet movie stars and didn’t wash their hand for a week. I figured a president deserved at least a month, but I doubted my mother would approve. Still, she agreed to make an exception and excused me from washing my hand that evening at dinner. When I took my bath before bed, I held my hand on my head so it wouldn’t get wet. The next morning, I didn’t wash it for breakfast either.

When I went to school, I was determined to keep that hand as clean as possible. Since it was my writing hand, I knew that wouldn’t easy. In fourth grade, we were using real ink cartridge pens instead of pencils. I didn’t want to smudge my thumb. When we stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I put that hand over my heart and felt extra proud.

Then, during Spelling time, the principal announced over the loud speaker for all children to report to the auditorium and all teachers to come to his office. Dutifully, we filed into the lecture hall, seated in assigned rows as we always did for assembly.

We sat in silence wondering what was going on. A few students dared to whisper. The wooden curved back of my chair no longer felt cool on my spine. The upholstered seat itched under my knees. I swung my legs back and forth to keep them from tingling. My feet were too short to touch the floor.

The doors to the auditorium opened. I turned and squinted as the light from the hall pierced the darkened room. Our teachers walked slowly down the aisles. Several were crying. My teacher blew her nose into her laced handkerchief and stood silently besides our class. The principal stepped to the stage.

“Children. May I have your attention.” His voice cracked. It didn’t sound like him. He cleared his throat. “Today in Dallas, the President was shot. He is dead.”

Sherry grabbed my left hand. I squeezed back, then looked down. I stared at my right hand and spread my fingers. I turned it over to view my palm.

I remembered the feel of his big, warm hand in mine, and I was glad I hadn’t washed it.

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I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11

You probably have a shelf or two of them as well. Photos, knick-knacks, chotzkies. Things that are precious to you and evoke memories as soon as you notice them. A figurine from your great-grandmother, which you might take to that Antique Show one day to have it valued, sits next to the clay thingamajig  your child made for Mother’s Day in second grade. Fading photos of your kids, siblings, parents, and maybe relatives long crossed over to the other side of eternity brings happy tears welling in the corners of your eyes.

You love to point them out to visitors and tell them the story behind each one…if they’ll listen, that is. If you move, I imagine they’ll get an extra layer of bubble wrap.

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Do you have a similar, mental shelf filled with the serendipities and miracles God has performed in your life? Do you hold them close to your heart and keep them fresh in your mind to meditate upon on those days you wonder what the purpose to all this is, if things will really turn out alright,  or if He hears your pleas?

Maybe you do, and they are recorded in the back if your Bible or in journals. If so, carve out some quiet time this week to go over them, savor them and thank God anew for them.

If you don’t, that’s okay. You can begin to collect them now. How? Simply ask God to help you recall them. Then be attentive when He brings them to mind.

He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. Psalm 111:4

When we recall all that God has done for us, our attitude can’t help but shift towards the positive. Just like a gas tank, the recounting of His past mercies and favors pumps into our emptiness and makes us full again. As we think about what God has done for us in the past, we can’t help but know He will come through again. His nature is constant. He is unchanging.

He was your Help, your Strength, your Refuge, your Joy and Salvation yesterday, and six months ago, and five years ago. He will be so again today, and for the rest of your tomorrows. Remember that, always.

 

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imag0562I was asked, what is the one thing in your closet you should probably throw out? If anyone else rummaged through my clothes, they’d most likely choose the ratty ol’ black sweater. It’s faded, a bit threadbare, and stretched out of shape. But it still hangs in my closet…for a reason.

When my mother passed away, my sister, niece and sister-in-law gathered with me in her bedroom to sort and pack up her things. What to give away and what to throw away? None of us felt we could handle the task alone. What began in solemn sorrow ended in tearful laughter. Morphed into little girls again, we tried on “mommy’s clothes.”  We shared memories of when she wore this or that.  We snickered over some of her choices in fashion. We paraded around the room in various items. In the end, we each took a few as mementos. I chose the black sweater, already worn with age.

Even now, years later, whenever I’m feeling a bit down, I slip my arms through that ratty old sweater. It is almost as if my mom is hugging me once again. I feel the secure warmth I felt as a child. When my husband passed away, I wore that thing a lot, even out in public. I didn’t care. Mom had become a widow far too early as well. I knew she’d understand.

Paul spoke of God’s comfort He give us to pass on to others. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 13:3-4  

My mother was a deep believer even though she suffered many sorrows including the death of two children and my father becoming a POW in WWII.  She lived with his resulting PTSD that turned into depression and alcoholism. Through it all, she used her experiences to God’s glory and comforted many during her 80 plus years on earth, especially the last few decades. At her funeral I heard many stories that testified to that fact. When I wrap myself in that sweater, I feel her God-endowed wisdom and comfort.

Yes, I should probably toss it away, but I doubt I will. In a way it has become my prayer shawl. One day, after I am gone, maybe the women in my family will go through my clothes. Someone will snicker and wonder why I kept that old thing. Then she will feel the urge to slip her arms through its sleeves. I think when she does, she’ll realize why.

 

 

 

 

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