January 19, 2019

The View from My Hill


As I step very gingerly from one era of my life (my working years) into the next era (my golden years) I find that I feel more gratitude than I have ever felt at any other stage of my life so far. Gratitude that I have managed to get to this age at all with relatively good health is high up on my gratitude list. I am also grateful of course that I have love of family in my life. And I am beyond grateful that I am able to wake up each day and not wonder how I am going to put food on the table. The list is indeed endless, and as I age, it grows longer.

But one of the things I am most grateful for are memory triggers. I never realized there was a name to those smells, sounds and sights that can bring one back to a moment in time that had long been forgotten. But I have experienced them. And as I find myself approaching my later years, when my memory is not quite what it used to be, I am grateful for each and every nudge these triggers provide.

We all have are familiar with that memory trigger of smell, when something cooking on a stove reminds us of a long-ago event - perhaps a parent making dinner.

A couple of years ago I had occasion to go into an old elementary school – still in service as a school, but definitely showing signs of its 60 plus years. I was hit by the smell of chalk boards and paper and it immediately transported me back to my own grade school days. What a lovely memory that was!

And we have all experienced the trigger of sound when a song comes on the radio and we are reminded of a time in our life say of a dance or a wedding.

The most recent memory trigger was a trigger of sight. It happened on a weekend trip to New Hampshire with two of my granddaughters. Many restaurants and shops up in the north country are still decorated for the holidays, since it is still winter up there. One night we were heading into a restaurant for dinner when I spotted a stuffed ‘snow person’ in the corner of the lobby. Standing something under three feet tall, this snow person was an exact duplicate of one I purchased some 15 years before – but until I saw this one, I had completely forgotten about it.

It triggered the sweetest, clearest memory of being in K-Mart with my then 2-year-old granddaughter. Not a frequent K-Mart shopper, we stopped in to see if they had a certain kind of replacement bulbs for the light strings on my Christmas tree. We had already been to the late, great Benny’s and they didn’t have what I was looking for. So there we were walking down the center aisle of K-Mart when my granddaughter spotted this snow person. She immediately ran (this girl never walked) over to it and threw her tiny arms around it. I think she thought it was a doll to play with. Anyhow, as any other adoring grandparent might do, this snow person came home with us. I knew her Mom wouldn’t like me indulging my granddaughter once again, so I told a little white lie and convinced her it was a decoration for her house. Of course, my granddaughter had other plans for it and it quickly became her new friend.

So, when I walked into that restaurant in New Hampshire with this same granddaughter, now 17, and saw this memory trigger, I was beyond grateful. Not to say that I don’t have many memories of this granddaughter at a young age, I do, but I always have room for one more.

I am grateful for this night too, because she too is getting older. Soon she will be off to college and a career and there won’t be many more times that she will be able to fit a weekend away with her grandmother into her schedule.

One day in the future I am sure I will once again walk into this restaurant, since it’s always been a favorite, and hopefully remember this night and this weekend.

And I know once again, I will be grateful for any memory trigger I see.


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