Taking A Detour Down Memory Lane

Sunday, July 16, 2023

The older I get, the more sentimental I get.  Does that statement apply to you too?  

I've always been emotional, passionate in my feelings - both highs and lows, sentimental about the past, the people in my past, special occasions, tradition and the like.  But I've noticed that the older I get, the more intense those feelings are, the more sentimental I've become.  I am more interested in and feel more connected to my past and especially the people that are no longer with us.  That sentimentality has resulted in a passion for old family photos, researching my genealogy, thinking more deeply about 'the old days' and also the desire to share these things with my offspring.  Those offspring are still young enough that they don't possess the same interest in the 'old' parts of my life, even the things that will one day be the old parts of their lives. They don't yet feel the need to hold the memorabilia, the memories or the people quite as tightly as I find myself holding them at the age and stage I now find myself in.  

I walk down memory lane because I know I'll find you there. -Tim McGraw

Some examples of this sentimental stage I'm in and how it affects me.....For the past few years I find that when I hear a song from my younger days, that song might evoke a strong, almost uncontrollable emotional response. One day PBS was broadcasting a special about Englebert Humperdinck. The second his velvety voice began to sing 'After the Loving' I became overwhelmed, teary and on the verge of a full blown water works display. My heart was immediately transported back to the '70's when I had season tickets to the Colonie Coliseum. My grandmother and my mother's sister, my Aunt Helen, and I saw Englebert in concert 2 or 3 times. Helen was like a teenager in her adoration of Humperdinck. I never saw a grown woman swoon over a celebrity like she did for him. She loved listening to his music at home, but seeing him in person was a whole other level of ecstasy and to this day, I can remember and feel her immense joy, see her smile and I'm reminded of an aunt who is no longer with me.  What probably triggered the 'sentimental' nerve this week was probably when the Good Times Band played Quando, Quando, Quando, another of Humperdinck's hits.  It doesn't take much.

Recently John has been going through his massive record collection - a collection of over 200 vinyls, mostly from the 60's, 70's and early 80's, most he hasn't listened to in a of couple decades.  Finally able to part with some of them, we've been cataloguing the collection preparing to sell what he can.  Before parting with them, we've been listening to some one last time.  Today's technology - Itunes, Spotify and the like have made it so that music never really becomes extinct.  Even the most random music is still accessible.  There is no real need for a cabinet full of vinyl (a concept it's taken me years to convey).  Still, we are all attached to our individual material past.  Yesterday we sorted through what was left of my collection, a small collection, as I'd already parted with most of my vinyl years ago.  What was left was a few John Denver, a bunch of Neil Diamond, and then a couple records that touched my sentimental nerve in a big way.

One of those records was Don Ho, Live at the Polynesian Palace.  I bet no one reading has that one in their collection.  I have it because in 1973 my grandparents took me to Hawaii and we saw Don Ho perform live.  I'm not sure if it's the distinctive quality of Don Ho's voice, the memory of seeing a celebrity up close for the first time, or sharing that experience with my grandparents, but I don't think if I lived to be 100, I'd ever not be able to think of Tiny Bubbles without hearing Don Ho singing.  Seeing that album cover, listening to Tiny Bubbles, Pearly Shells and I'll Remember You turned on the waterworks.  Try as I might, my emotions could not be contained.  That trip, the two special people in my life that gifted me that experience and the gratitude I felt for all of it swept me away to a place and time I might never have revisited except in a dream.

My Grandparents

The next record that transported me was The Singing Nun, a soundtrack from the movie of the same name with Debbie Reynolds as the singing nun, Ricardo Montalban, Chad Everett and Greer Garson. 

My other grandmother, my Mimier, took me to the theater to see that in 1966.  I loved the movie and the music soundtrack and back in the day, I remember listening to the album on repeat.  John had never seen the movie or heard the music so we played the album and I was struck with how familiar the songs were even though I haven't listened to that album in over 45 years.  Once again testing today's modern technology, I turned on our Roku and searched and what do you know, The Singing Nun was available on Amazon Prime.  You know I had to watch it, right then, right now.  Oh how delightful a movie it is!  John loved it.  By now, you can imagine what a sappy, drippy, emotional mess I was.  My entire being was a sentimental bundle of every emotion possible.  I was remembering my grandmothers, my youth, how fortunate I was to have such wonderful women in my life who shared their passions with me, spent time with me and loved me so much, always doing so without boasting or bragging but just by quietly loving me and giving of their time and enthusiasm.    They've both been gone a long time, but yesterday it felt like they were both here and wrapping me in the gift of their love.

My Mimier and me

After a day filled with reminiscing to John about all of these experiences (many he'd already heard many times but not always from a blubbering, teary wife), we took a drive to check out the sunset.  Several years ago, someone told me that it is thought that if you see an X in the sky from jet streams, it means someone who has passed is thinking of you and sending love.  Well last evening, when I looked up, there were two X's in the sky.  You can bet no one could convince me that those were not signs that my grandmothers were with me and sending me their love.

Life today is crazy at times.  It's challenging, confusing, sometimes discouraging and depressing but I think it's important that we hold tight to the good times, remember the old times and take time to savor the memories of times we cherish.  We can't bring back the people who have gone from this earth, but we can cherish and pass down their wisdom, tell their stories, and hold tight to the love and time they gave.  If we can keep their memory alive in ways like these, they will always be with us.  We can't see and touch our loved ones in heaven, but I feel I came close yesterday.  I encourage you to take a trip down memory lane, using whatever memorabilia you have and spend some time with the people you miss.  If you're lucky, you'll shed some happy tears like I did yesterday and today as I write this.  I'm happy I'm a sentimental old fool.  Won't you join me?

In the end, we all become stories. 
- Margaret Atwood

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