When you think about the most significant people in your life, the ones who have guided you to that Ah-Ha moment or have stepped in to save you from yourself or others, who comes to mind? The typical answer would be family- mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, etc… Immediate family members. But, in this day and age of television and internet and instant connectivity, that doesn’t necessarily hold true for everyone anymore.
My answer to this question would be first my mother- she raised me and guided my morals, so of course she would be number 1 on the list. Other than that, as people go, my grandmother is a close number 2, but after that there are a series of moments with people that strike me as pivotal, but these are only moments. For example- the day that my second grade teacher, Mrs. Collazo at Eli Whitney Elementary School in Stratford Connecticut told me that I was a good writer, or the day that my mother’s secretary, who’d lived with us for nearly a decade, told her that I’d taken the car out when I was 15. There is also the day that I found a used book at a garage sale and wanted to give my elderly neighbors a present, but was chastised because I have given them a copy of Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Sets’- I still don’t see why they were so angry about that one.
The day that my childhood pet seized and died in my arms is tied in my memory with the day that my mother told me she and my step-father of 22 years were getting divorced. This is closely followed by the day that my ex-step father told me that if I wanted a relationship with him to continue I would need to be the one who put all of the effort into making that happen. The painful things are of course the most vivid and most easily remembered and I do have to force myself to try and think of the positive moments.
I’m not sure if this is a memory or not, I’m not so clear on my memories before I was about 8 or 9 years old, but I have the image in my head of a day where my brother, mother, step-father, and I went to an apple orchard in Connecticut and picked a ridiculous number of apples. I can still smell the late 80’s, yuppie leather scent, of my mother’s tan suede jacket and feel the stripes Land’s End cotton turtleneck, that I was wearing under an LL Bean sweater, wrapping around my throat. My brother was wearing his stone washed denim jacket with the Def Leopard and the Guns and Roses patches on it. I’m not too sure what about that day keeps the memory so firmly planted in my mind, but it is comforting. My family, at one point, had been happy and had enjoyed each other. The second part of that is where I’m a little fuzzy, but I know that later on in that day, my mother and I spent the afternoon making cinnamon applesauce with our haul of apples. To this day, I get a warm feeling that is so full of love when I smell warm, freshly cooking cinnamon applesauce, but it’s now twinged a little with regret. That is the reality of age, hind sight is always 20/20, but sometimes it is nicer to live the lie.
More recently, I’ve got so many loving memories that I’m grateful for. My mother is still a key figure, but my brother and I have gotten much closer and I’ve been able to reconnect with my father, though my ex-step-father is now out of the picture. My friends have become my family- hell, I’ve moved in with one of them and they were only too happy to help! How often do you hear people making that offer and truly meaning that they don’t have any stipulations to go along with it? Mrs. Batty, Deandona, Red, Mango, Ans, et al- I am feeling very sentimental and am sending out lots of love because you are truly the people who have informed the most important parts of my life.