We sat in comfy chairs and enjoyed a cup of coffee together, my 86-year-old Mama and I. Without much notice, she looked over the rim of her cup, and stated, “Let’s take a little trip upstairs.” Her eyes twinkled at the thought. I offered to bring photographs and keepsakes downstairs, hoping to ease what I knew would be a difficult climb for her to the second story of my home. But, the attempt, albeit honorable, failed to dissuade her.
She insisted on making the laborious journey, taking her time with each step, fifteen in all. Finally reaching the second story landing, we walked along the hallway where an impressive array of framed ancestors line the walls, most of whom I never had the opportunity to meet. She spoke as though she had enjoyed a cup of coffee with each of them the week before. Suddenly, strangers with stoic faces came to life with her many vivid recollections.
I removed several handmade items from an old dresser drawer, and again there was a heartwarming story from the past that accompanied each. I watched as she ran her fingers along the delicate edges of a crocheted doily that was nearly 75 years old. The sight of an old, well-worn table cloth that had once graced the little kitchen table in her and Dad’s first apartment brought a tear to her eye.
She journeyed bygone years with ease, like a familiar and well-traveled path – and with a strange clarity that often escapes her when she tries to recall what she did earlier in the day. The places in her mind where she chose to stop and sit for awhile became vibrant stories that she articulated like a gifted orator. She is an 86-year-old beautifully written novel, pages worn but rich with story and life. I felt so humbled to “read” with her.
At the end of it all, her expression was one of pure joy. “Well, that was delightful, now wasn’t it? I feel like I’ve been on a nice trip.” Indeed she had. I had been privileged to accompany her. A long, beautiful trip through a colorful field of memories.