Thursday, September 08, 2005

Memories To Warm Us Through Our Winters

"Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories."
~An Affair To Remember~

My favorite quote from that movie, you know. When I first heard it again a couple of months ago on AMC, it struck a resonant chord within me, and I knew I had to use it in an entry. Several times I tried; I'd begin, but once the initial sentences were in this entry box, they just...dried up. Like an old, tired and forgotten creek, which flow dwindles and evaporates until it is but a trickle then a few muddy puddles here and there and finally an empty, dusty creekbed, my flow of words became naught.

But not this time. They are ready, I think, to flow back into the barren creekbed. The dam that held my words from me has been destroyed or removed by Mnemosyne, the goddess of Memory, Philosophy and Reason. Now my words can rush back along their intended course, unimpeded, rising to the very edge of their green, grassy banks. And I, I can kneel on one of those banks, rejoicing, dipping my miner's pan into the cool clear water, smiling as it flows over my sun-warmed flesh like silk. Bringing the old metal pan back up dripping, I swirl the contents around and around, sifting and slowly pouring the water and loose sediment out, leaving only the gold nuggets I first glimpsed among the creek stones sometime ago. Again and again I repeat this process, until all the gold nuggets I see are put into a nearby pail to be added to the other treasure I've found while mining.

My room is basically like a miniature apartment. In fact, the whole downstairs of our house could be considered an apartment for me. I'm zee only one with a room down here (on zee first floor at zee back of zee 'ouse), while everybody else is upstairs at zee opposite end. The dining and living rooms, a bathroom, front room and kitchen are all down here as well. As this house has been my childhood home since I was six or seven-years-old, it's got a lot of memories attached, but... It is my room now, as I look around, that contains the memories that surface the most readily.

*laughs as she looks around* Perhaps that's because anywhere I look, most every knicknack, stuffed animal or wall decoration I see has a definite memory attached to it. On the wall facing my bed, I've hung the birthday balloon my mother gave me as part of a balloon bouquet. (She loves balloon bouquets.) It's iridescent orange with a lighter orange polkadot border. The center has a smiling sun, and in rainbow lettering across the front it reads: "Have a Sunny Birthday!" I had another heart-shaped red smiley balloon with it, but, *sigh* it got loose and flew high into the stratosphere.

It was my 25th birthday, and we were in Twin Falls for my sister's basketball tournament. However, it was the last day so we spent some hours on the road, heading home. It was a rainy, dismal day made miraculous and beautiful by the most vivid and distinct rainbow I've seen in my life. It arced gracefully over the highway we were traveling, and just looking at it, I was lifted up, renewed, awed. It was the most beautiful benediction to a storm I ever saw, and I felt as if it were my rainbow, given to me by Heavenly Father as a gift.

Shifting my gaze to a different wall, I spy a picture of Mike and Jen standing before Aunt Colleen's fireplace in Midway. It stands on the second shelf attached to the wall. You can see it was taken in October, because of the ghost garland my aunt had hung across her mantel. Mike is as bald as a cue ball there in the picture. *wry laugh* He'd gotten his deployment order to Iraq and was about to head to WA State for training before deployment. (Jen is the one who shaved his head, btw.) And unbeknownst to us all, it was about the time she conceived. The day the picture was taken, we all gathered at my aunt and uncle's for a barbecue. Nan and Paw Paw, my family and aunt, uncle and three young cousins. It would be the last time we'd all be together before Michael left for the war. We visited and the kids played games, then *blinks back sudden tears* the men gave Mike a Priesthood blessing for his continued health and safety.

Moving my gaze again, this time to my left, to the shelf topping my computer desk, I see a metal or tin rose painted a deep sparkly red with painted green leaves. It stands in a light purple bottle shaped like two hearts, one slightly in front of the other, perched on a pedastal. Heather gave me the flower on one of her visits last spring or summer. As with all her gifts, I treasure the rose, because everytime I look at it--or at any of her other gifts--warm memories of our friendship and soul sisterhood come to the fore and I can't help but smile and hope she's happy still.

In front of the purple bottle stands a glass jar with a glass stopper. On the front, between two bands of blue and gold is a depiction of the Jacob Spori Building. This was my "home away from home" while I was at Ricks. It houses the Art, Speech and Pathology and Mass Communications Depts.; as well as the Scroll office and newsroom. This is where I gained my self-esteem, knew I was liked for me, that being myself was great and where I gained my testimony of Christ's gospel. This is where my self discovery began.

And last, but not the very least, not by a long shot, for there are many more memory items surrounding the white buffalo stuffed animal on my nightstand. I bought him as a souvenir when Aubree, Kjerstina, her sister Natashja and I went to Yellowstone one summer. I bought the buffalo because
one) he's white, and a white buffalo is sacred to
Native Americans and
two) the buffalo seems to be my spirit animal.

For a period of time, anywhere I looked I saw buffalo. Or images of them. Idaho's Museum of Natural History's mascot was the ancient bison. They had "hoofprints" along the sidewalk, leading up to the door of the museum. Then there was a stamp with a buffalo on it in circulation. Sandy, my ex-care provider bought us matching shirts at Fort Hall's trading post. Guess what was on the fronts of the t-shirts? That's right. Buffalo. My sightings didn't stop there when I left ISU. I saw an iron silhoutte of a bison along the way to I.F. every day I went to the outreach campus for classes. And the cincher? I bought a picture of an Indian brave--a handsome Indian brave--in Jackson when my family and I went with family friends from RI. I didn't realize at the time, however, what was beneath his likeness. You guessed it, buffalo. Two males bucking heads together, trying to prove which one is the alpha male. The caption below them reads: Buffalo Warrior.

My room is indeed filled with many fond memories. I would share more, but it's getting late and I know I can't share them all. I won't ever lack for warmth during cold winters, for every time I look around, there is always something there to remind me...

Life is good. I have much to be grateful for and many things to remind me; a few of which I named tonight. There is another quote I would leave with you all before I go: "We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours." ~Dag Hammarskjold, Markings~

We have the power to choose what we put into or get out of life. *pauses, sobering before continuing* A family friend and member of my ward died of Lou Gerrick's disease this past Wednesday. He was a man with a zest for life and a love for people. He was cheerful, and when he was diagnosed two years ago with this disease, he decided he would live each day happily and better than the last. He never once complained or thought Heavenly Father had let him slip through the cracks. He knew he was being called home. And if it meant being back with our Father and progressing even more towards perfection, then he was happy to go through the trials he went through over the past two years.

I hope your winters can be as warm as mine.


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