Random Thoughts on Daily Life While Old
Stumbling Along Toward an Ending

A TGB READER STORY: Memory of a Summer Day

By Janet from Minnesota

On this beautiful summer day, my heart is filled with memories of a lady I used to know. It makes sense that I use the word lady because it implies a gentle manner and is a word that seems to embody who and how she was.

I think we must have met long before my first recollection of her. Nevertheless, the first time she appears in my memory is on a summer afternoon. Her white-grey hair is carefully combed, as always, and she’s wearing one of her floral cotton summer dresses. The pink and white one, I think it was.

She’s standing in the doorway of her tidy little house holding the door open for us, smiling and chattering cheerfully. We would come to repeat this ritual many times over several summers, but that first time and how she looked on that day has stayed with me for all these years.

She always seemed genuinely happy to see us, greeting my mom with a big smile. “Oh, Patsy, how are you? Come on in. Look at all these nice kids. Oh, and here’s my little Jeanne!”

My mom and I and some of my siblings had made the two or three mile walk to her house - an easy trek because it was all downhill (and because I didn’t have a toddler to pick up and carry every so often like my mom did).

After taking our shoes off at the door, we respectfully made our way into her house. It was a curious place to me, simply decorated with old fashioned furniture and knickknacks.

I remember a figurine that sat on a small table by her green and gold lamp. It was of a woman with a fancy hat and gloves and a very glamorous smile painted across her porcelain face.

In the dining room was a corner shelf that held several elegantly flowered teacups with matching saucers. I can still see the bright colors and delicate handles of the teacups and how pretty they looked against the dark wood of the shelf.

I didn’t think about it then, but today I can imagine her placing each teacup in just the right spot and how she must have dusted them one by one, carefully returning them to their proper place on the shelf.

Her windows were always filled with plants. She was a prolific and gifted gardener; one of the many sweet things about her I didn’t truly appreciate until it no longer was.

I’m lucky after all these years to have vivid memories of her flower garden and of her walking gracefully in and out of the rows of beautiful flowers like a butterfly who didn’t want to miss out on a single one of them.

She was at home in the middle of all those flowers, chatting happily about which ones were doing well, which would bloom next and what colors they would be, stopping here and there to select just the right blossoms for a pretty and colorful bouquet to send home with my mom.

After a visit to her flower garden she would send us to the neighborhood store for vanilla ice cream. Carefully opening the ice cream carton from the side, she would slice the frozen treat like a loaf of bread; a thick, delicious square for each of us.

It was a special delight when raspberries were in season. Fresh from her garden, she’d spoon them onto our ice cream in a most generous fashion, the bright red berries atop the sweet ice cream slices making my mouth water with anticipation. I’d be hard pressed to remember having a better treat before or since.

As I write this, my heart overflows with memories of this kind, sweet lady - too many and too tender to write about in one sitting. So just for now, on this beautiful summer day, I will remember her the way she was on those summer days of long ago, greeting us with a smile, making sure our visit was pleasant and special the way a gracious hostess does, and sending us off with more smiles, happy chatter, some homemade raspberry jam, and of course, a bouquet of beautiful flowers. Here’s to the precious memory of you, my dear Aunt Vickie.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

Comments

My gosh, this was lovely. I don't know what else to say.

Beautifully written.

Reminds me of going for my weekly piano lesson in a similarly decorated living room in Hollywood when I was a kid. She even had a big pink hydrangea bush next to her front
window, and candy in a dish in the dining room. Thank you for this memory.

An uplifting post for sure.

What a delightful mini vacation. Thanks for sharing this lovely memory.

Lovely! It reminds me of my aunt Erma, whom we visited once a year in her home in Ohio. We were met with freshly-homemade pizza, spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and fresh breads and sausages. Very good memories.

Ice cream with raspberries ... great memory and obviously a wonder lady.

did you think that destroying your own children's future would have no consequence? We millennials are now full blown communists, and you boomers are going to watch your country become communist before you finally drop dead

You painted a lovely picture, I went along with you on your visit...what a precious memory.

Thank you!

I thought it best not to comment and give credence to Melissa’s message.

Melissa has been banned.

Magnificent. Evokes memories of Karin, a similarly kind and loving older neighbor who had immigrated to the US at age two with her five-member poverty-stricken Swedish family. Her pride was in the table lamps and furniture that her father had made when the family landed in NJ where her enterprising mother ran a rooming house to support the young family. I loved hearing stories of her mother's talents and quirks, chores she and her sisters did, and boarders (including one who made passes at her and was only asked to leave after Karin sensing her discomfort signaled danger told her mother). Her mother taught Karin and her two sisters to make clothing patterns and sew (Karin later outfitted herself and her daughter through her high school years). She loved helping me *absent such talents** — hemming, mending, adjusting ill-fitting clothes, and redesigning outdated curtains. We would sit in her living room and talk nonstop while she labored! Her Depression-era stories fascinated me, and her thoroughly liberal politics and democratic principles that she credited to her father, aligned with my own. Those politics and principles governed many decisions and unpopular stands she took throughout her life. Thank you for your essay.

Please disregard Melissa's hateful words . Please pay attention to the words of folks who were moved and touched by your lovely memory. . . Lovely and beautiful ly written.

Thank you.

This could have been written about the wonderful next-door neighbor I had growing up in Cincinnati during the 60s. She was my "special friend," and I spent many, many after-school hours with her, learning while observing her cooking, gardening and housekeeping. She also taught me how to play the piano. She died in the 70s and I still miss her.

The unkind words of Melissa saddened me. Thankfully, even as I read her post I knew that Ronni has our backs and that we all have the mutual respect it takes to make this a Class A place to be. Thank you!

I also have fond memories of going with my mother during our summers in New Jersey to visit with elderly neighbors, women, who were gracious and sweet and so happy to spend a few hours with us every couple of weeks. They would often send us home with some fresh garden vegetables and we all had a feeling of happiness and satisfaction afterwards. I still think of them now that I am at the age that they were then. I don't do any of these things myself, and my mother didn't either. Maybe because we grew up in a city, and now things are really different for many people. Thanks for the memories. Irene

Lola, ditto. Enjoying Janet’s gentle memory, and the unexpected blast of anger sidetracked me to the reality of hostility spewed at inappropriate times. Back to pondering the sweet summer memories. Thanks, Janet.

What a beautiful story. It reminds me so much of my own grandmother and my frequent visitors to her. I loved her so much and miss her intensely.

I'm wondering if Sheila and I read the same story. I've gone back over it three or four times and I find absolutely no unexpected blast of anger contained therein. Did we read the same story.

Ronni strikes again!

Janet, A lovely story that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the break from all the bad news coming our way.

Beautiful post to read today. Thank you.

Nancy, the blast of anger was not in the lovely story, it was in a comment from someone named Melissa.

A lovely story. How lucky you were to have your dear Aunt Vickie! It reminds me of the walks my mother, my sister and I would take when I was very small (sometimes I was pushed in a pram, although I was a toddler, not an infant, but it was probably easier on my mother that way) to visit my Aunt Lil. She was our Irish aunt --- married one of my Dad's older brothers -- and we were a big Italian family. She lived a mile away up a very big hill, didn't have any children of her own, but was alway very kind to us and had a grand sense of humor. Thank you for reminding me to spend some time in the long-ago past, with my happy memories, especially when the present seems so grim.

My heart leaps at the way special people — Aunt Vickie — bring joy to their family and many others with their grace and generosity of spirit. This day has been a hard one, but your tribute to Aunt Vickie restored my strength and hope for good in this troubled world of ours.

So glad I circled back today to catch up here and read this story. Janet's memories of a special person in her young life has obviously resonated with many readers here, myself included. I had one particularly kind and gracious aunt who, although she lived nearly a thousand miles away and we made the trip to her house on rare occasions, made a great impression on me and will always live in my mind and heart. There were other adults who provided examples and comfort, sometimes without even knowing they did, when I was young and living in troubled circumstances, some of whom I can no longer specifically recall, but the gift of warm and loving recollections provided by people like Janet's Aunt Vickie and my Aunt Vel are among the things that we carry in our hearts always. They cost nothing, and are pure gifts of grace and I can't imagine my life without them.

She was Margaret for me. A customer of the bank where I worked in my late 30's. We hit it off, became fast friends over time, and remained so until her death. She (& her husband, Frank) were my first gardening mentors, taught me to like/love blue cheese and enriched my life in ways I'm still learning to appreciate. A favorite photo and her obit are still featured on my "Dead Shelf".

Thanks for the memories. <3

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