My children and friends have given me books titled “Grandmother’s Memories,” and “Mom Remembers,” but only recently have I decided the time has come to fill them out or forget it. For my oldest grandchild’s March birthday, I determined to complete the thin one that had several interesting prompts. The thickness attracted me since I was confident I could finish it before the celebration dinner. However, one section stumped me: Describe your funniest moment. I left it blank for days, while wishing being funny was one of my traits. Finally I gave up, wrapped the book, and added it to the pile of presents.
I was pleased as she opened the gift and immediately started reading the paragraphs. When she turned to the one blank section, she asked why. Honestly, I could not think of one funny incident, although I must have had some. When she left, I kept the book with the promise of finishing it soon. Weeks passed with no clarity on anything funny in my life worth relating, so I scratched through “funniest” and wrote “scariest.”
My scariest moment occurred in 1977 while visiting my Navy husband in the Philippines at Cubi Point Naval Base. He had arranged a shopping trip to Angeles City for several wives to occupy themselves during the men’s working hours. Soon after the driver dropped us in town, he found me and instructed me to quickly gather the women. He offered no explanation except to say we had to leave immediately.
Driving through the back streets piqued my curiosity even more. He answered my queries with, “The Philippine Liberation Organization ambushed a police car, and the police are closing the city. You will be spending the night unless we can get out now.” To reassure the other women, I repeated that my husband had said the PLO never bothered Americans. The driver confirmed that I was correct except our license plate was the same as the police.
As we rounded a curve on the jungle road, a police helicopter appeared above us so close I could see the officer pointing a machine gun at our car. At the same time, we saw the jeep being pulled from the ravine, riddled with bullet holes and splattered with blood. Silence pervaded the rest of the ride. We arrived at the base with the husbands anxiously gathered to meet us.
A few days after completing that incident for Alex’s memory book, I remembered a funny incident. Paul and I met when he and his Navy friends came to the Rathskeller in Virginia Beach while I was a waitress the summer before my senior year in college. The next night they returned and asked if the other college waitresses and I would like to go to the beach with them Saturday morning. Since we worked every night, our social life was severely limited, so we all welcomed the invitation. As Paul and I were sitting on the beach, he began telling me he was going to visit me in Greensboro when I returned to UNCG, Woman’s College at the time. We had known each other only minutes. My mind started clicking, “This is what a line is. I’ve never had a line before.” I smiled, saying that would be great but knowing it would never happen. We continued dating the remainder of the summer, and when I returned to school, true to his word, he came almost every weekend even though it was a long trek. Four months later he proposed, left on a long cruise, and wrote daily letters.
Inspired by the completion of one memory book, I chose a blank book to begin for another grandchild. I am motivated. This one has more pages, but some allow for pictures of various ages of grandparents, parents, and the grandchild. Thinking that was a great idea to use some of my old pictures, I searched boxes, selected a few early photographs, and returned to Alex’s book which I still had. The blank pages at the beginning and end, plus a few other spaces, now are decorated with baby pictures of Alex’s mother Jill and early pictures of Paul and me. At the bottom of the title page is a picture of Alex and me. Now the book is ready to hand over to her.
I gave my two granddaughters, who are young mothers, baby books to complete for their babies, while memories are fresh. Progress is slow since posting on Facebook seems to be their substitute for traditional baby books. I worry that 50 years from now those postings will not be organized or readily available for Jackson, Austin, and Gage to read. Sitting in the living room with a book of your early years, with pictures and comments to recall dormant memories, is pure pleasure. If I have photographs printed and take them on my next visit, perhaps that will trigger their interest.
Completing the first memory book and starting on another has challenged me to review my three children’s baby books and fill in gaps. I can add a few more pictures, too. Unfortunately, many of their baby pictures are dim or fuzzy and require study to discern the faces; however, the ones in my high school scrap book are similar quality, but I treasure them. I am sure they will treasure their fuzzy pictures, too.