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Activities are fine, but please don't interrupt my thoughts.

Sometimes memories are enough

There are times when I see her coming that I would like to play possum. She only wants to remind me that there is bingo, or someone is coming to play the piano; some group is coming in to entertain to make themselves feel good -- and we have seen the same program over and over and over. I suppose she has thought of some new idea she thinks I can do. If she tells me one more time how my daughter wants me to keep busy. My daughter should remember how I love to watch As The World Turns, Guiding Light, Price is Right, etc., why should I give them up now that I have time to sit and watch without worrying about the cow ready to calve, the tomato preserves boiling on the stove, the mountain of clothes that need ironing.

When are these people going to realize that I snapped beans, peeled apples, folded towels, podded peas and NO -- I don't want to do it now. I want to sit here and relax my poor aching bones. I want to sit here and remember the sunset out my kitchen window -- I worked so hard on those curtains. I want to visualize my beautiful flower bed of rose moss. I worked hard for eighty-eight years and I personally feel I have earned a few moments of rest and some time to reminisce.

When you walk into my room and find me sitting here with my eyes closed, I am remembering the first time I held my precious, tiny little girl -- so perfect in every way, her little hand clasped around my finger. We named her Christina after my mother. I was home alone when the pains started. I know that the neighbor coming to visit was God looking out for me and my baby. David sure was surprised to come home from the field for dinner and find me and the baby and our neighbor lady who had really come to bring some pumpkins from her garden!

I am remembering holding my son so sick with pneumonia, each breath was a blessing. My husband David had been gone much too long. He left before dawn on our faithful mare Babe to get Doc Winters. I felt so helpless holding his hot little body burning up with fever.

I am remembering how proud my husband was when he shot a wild turkey for Thanksgiving. I can almost smell the turkey roasting, the hot biscuits, the apple pies I had made from apples a very thoughtful neighbor gave us.

I was remembering my wedding day. My mother and I worked so hard on my dress. It was absolutely beautiful with the lace my grandmother had tatted. My parents' home was decorated so pretty. My mother cried, but they were tears of happiness. She liked David.

I was remembering the night our home burned and how lucky we were to get the children out safely. I remember how thoughtful the neighbors were to come with food and lumber and helped rebuild our house. All the food the women brought to feed the men.

I was remembering the enormous amount of food the neighbor ladies and I cooked for the threshers. It was so much fun visiting with the ladies; the children running and playing outside. If I could only have a taste of the canned meat for dinner today!

I was remembering when my son handed me my first little grandchild. She was so beautiful and tiny. The pink blanket I crocheted looked so nice around her face. She looked like her daddy when he was born - such big blue eyes!

I can still hear those grasshoppers chewing their way across our field. A sound that can never be forgotten. The days of dust, dust, and more dust!

I was remembering the look on David's face as we watched our good milk cow, Vera, starve to death. He had tried everything--cutting sunflowers and garden stubble for her to eat -- but it was not enough. Those big brown jersey eyes will stay with me forever.

I was remembering the first car. It was so bumpy and noisy. That old Model-T was not as romantic as a horse and wagon. I remember so many times old Babe taking us home after the church meeting. I would snuggle close to David and the children were bundled under blankets in the back of the wagon. The blizzard came while we were in church, but Babe got us home. The old Model-T could not do that. Babe did not make noise, the old car did. I would have a hard time remembering something I had wanted to tell David but had to wait till we got home because we could not hear each other.

I was remembering tucking little Alice, John, Alex, Matthew and Christina in their beds under the heavy quilts and hearing their little squeals as they found the hot bricks wrapped in old flannel blankets to warm their cold little toes.

I was remembering when my little sister was run over by the team and wagon. The terror on my mother's face as we waited for Doc to come. Only to see him coming up the road, dust blowing behind his buggy, his horse running as fast as possible. But, we knew it was too late--little Emma was gone.

I can smell the wild plums boiling on the stove for jelly. David, the children and I had such fun picking the wild plums. Even my mother-in-law gave me a compliment on my jelly.

I was remembering how my sister and I colored paper to decorate our boxes for the annual Box Supper at the church. Momma made delicious oatmeal cookies and cheese sandwiches with homemade bread. I was remembering how I told Dave exactly how my box would be decorated so he could buy it. What if someone bid more? What if Dave accidentally bought someone else's box? But, Dave bought my box and it was while we were sitting under that old cottonwood tree behind the church that Dave took my hand, looked into my eyes and said, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I remember standing outside the parlor as Dave asked my Daddy if it was alright. I was scared to death.

I was remembering the smell of the cedar tree Daddy and my brothers cut for Christmas. We colored strips of paper to make chains with glue out of flour and water. The fun we had stringing popcorn and cranberries.

Then the day my sisters again ran to the outside bathroom just as Momma said time for dishes! This time, I was ready and I stuck a stick thru the hole in the back of the outhouse and hissed like a snake. They never did tell Momma how they could run out so fast when they were supposed to be using the bathroom! However, they did do supper dishes that night.

I was thinking about the day David was called home. I always told myself God wanted a rose in his garden so He reached down and took David from me and the children and grandchildren. David was such a special man and we had such a wonderful, happy marriage. If only this generation would understand the meaning of real love like we had in my generation. We had always told each other we would go just beyond the moon and wait. If only my children really knew why I would sit for hours on the porch in my old rocker and watch the moon. Yes, David was one of a kind and someday I will see him again, I know he is waiting for me.

So, when you come into my room and I seem to be far away -- I AM! Let me remember the walk David and I took thru the woods when he told me for the first time that he loved me. Let me remember the happy times, the sad times, and the hard times. Don't be disappointed if I say no, I do not want to come to devotions -- I am tired -- I just canned thirty quarts of tomatoes!

Don't be upset with me when I tell my roommate to shut up! I know that the records show we went to school together -- but what you don't know is she helped stick my beautiful braids into the ink well at school. I can still hear her giggle. I think the black ink would match her grey hair better!

I really do appreciate all you are doing. I am thankful for the volunteers you bring in, the programs you line up, even though I know you do hear a lot of complaints from my daughter. Maybe next week I'll come listen to the man play the piano, so please continue to stick your head in and let me know what is going on. But, today could I just snuggle under my afghan like I did that day in the wagon with Dave and the children?

Connie Heidebrecht is Activities Director at the Mary Marshall Manor, Marysville, KS.
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Author:Heidebrecht, Connie
Publication:Nursing Homes
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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