Category Archives: Nostalgia

Grandma’s Lilacs

Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense and smell and memory are closely linked, probably more so than any of our other senses. Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example. This can often happen spontaneously, with a smell acting as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience. This is because the olfactory nerve is located very close to the area of the brain that is connected to the experience of emotion as well as emotional memory. In addition, the olfactory nerve is very close to the hippocampus, which is associated with memory; thus, the experience of the sense of smell evoking a memory. In addition to being the sense most closely linked to memory, smell is also highly emotive. The perfume industry is built around this connection, with perfumers developing fragrances that seek to convey a vast array of emotions and feelings; from desire to power, vitality to relaxation.

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As for myself, whenever I catch the scent of lilacs blooming in the spring, it reminds me of my Grandma Kramlinger. Grandma kept a beautiful garden, and her lilac bushes were her pride and joy. She not only had lilac-colored bushes, but also white, blue, dark purple, lavender, and pink. The blossoms were fragrant and cheerful, and as soon as you came upon her house, the aroma would drift all around you, assailing your senses with the sweet smell of springtime.

I have such lovely childhood memories of Sundays when she would arrive at our house for Sunday dinner. Her arms would be laden with lilac blossoms, and she’d say to my mother, “Here’s something to grace the table.” Mom would take the lilac flowers and fashion them into a lovely bouquet, put them into a vase filled with water and place them in the center of our dinner table. And there they would stay throughout the week, a reminder of Grandma, until the next Sunday when she came to visit again with fresh lilacs to replace them.

Now whenever I catch the scent of lilacs in the springtime, I wonder if the lilac bushes still bloom in her garden, and if the people who live in her house now are still appreciating their cheerful blossoms and simple beauty and enjoying their sweet fragrance.

 

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Writing 101: Day Sixteen – “Serial Killer III”

Day Sixteen – Serial Killer III:  

* Today’s Prompt:   Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

* Today’s Twist:  If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.

After being medically disabled in 2004, my world came crashing down and depression quickly set in. But then my husband suggested that I return to writing, a love that I had long since forgotten. It was a suggestion for which I will be forever grateful because writing changed my attitude about life and all of a sudden, my situation didn’t seem as tragic as I had pictured it to be.

With the event of my medical disability, I lost my nursing career, something which I treasured. But on the other hand, with the event of my medical disability, I found one of my first loves: writing, another treasure, which had been buried for so long and so deep within me. And I was so happy that I found it once again.

One day while cleaning out our basement, I stumbled upon a large cardboard box which contained hundreds of old photographs that I had totally forgotten were being stored in this particular part of our house. Curious, I decided to carry the box up to our kitchen and look through its contents, and I was so glad that I did.Mom Wedding pic 3

I found a photograph of my mother which was taken on her wedding day. This photograph was a black and white 8 X 10 picture and it revealed that she was indeed one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen. It could be that I’m biased, but I have included a copy of that very same photo with this entry so that you can judge for yourself. The photo brought back a memory of the story that my mother related to me of my parents’ love story, and it was then that I realized that this was the perfect first story for me to write about after rediscovering my first love – writing.

Regarding my parents’ courtship – now this is an interesting and romantic little tale to tell. As a matter of fact, it’s just like something out of a movie.

My father John came from a very large family of eleven children. Yes, my father’s parents were good Catholics and absolutely believed in large families.

During World War II, my mother was engaged to my father’s brother, Patrick, who was the second oldest sibling. At this time, my father was a sergeant in the army and was serving overseas, and my mother had never even met my father.

My Aunt Dorothy, who was married to my Uncle Ray, the oldest sibling, was good friends with my mother. She told my mother: “Marg, (my mother’s name was Margaret) if you like Pat, just wait until you meet Jack.” She was referring to my father, who was nicknamed Jack.

When my father was discharged from the service and came home, his brother Patrick then entered the military service. It was then that my mother met my father through my Aunt Dorothy. Somehow they began to date. I think my Aunt Dorothy had a lot to do with this. I think she felt that my mother and father were destined to be together instead of my mother and my Uncle Pat being together.

My mother and father fell in love. She broke off the engagement with my Uncle Pat. And she told me that this was one of the most difficult things she ever had to do, and she felt so awful doing it, but she knew she was meant to be with my father. My father proposed to her and she accepted. Now this is the stuff that romance is made of, and who would have ever thought that something like this would happen between your mother and father, of all people? Ah, such is love.

My parents were married on November 19, 1946. And my father asked my Uncle Pat to be his best man. According to my mother, on their wedding day, my Uncle Pat said to my father: “I hope you’re never happy.” Yes, I guess he was a little bitter. But eventually he accepted their marriage and later on, my father and my Uncle Pat became the best of friends once again. My Uncle Pat married a wonderful woman – my Aunt Colleen. They would always vist us on Christmas Day, and you would never guess that my Uncle Pat held a grudge against my father for a while.

I am grateful that my mother chose my father to be her husband. They loved each other totally and deeply. And even though they never had much as far as wealth is concerned, they always had the one thing that is the most important – true love. And who could ask for anything more?

 

 

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http://blainecindy.com/2015/04/09/writing-101-day-four-the-serial-killer/

http://blainecindy.com/2015/04/23/writing-101-day-thirteen-serial-killer-ii/

 

 

 

 

Writing 101- Day Eleven: “Size Matters”

Day Eleven – Size Matters:

* Today’s Prompt:  Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve.

* Today’s Twist:  Pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

I grew up as the middle child of seven children. I was the middle child, and there were seven years between my only brother and me. I had three younger sisters, so even though I was the middle child, I was also like the oldest of the youngest children. My father was very ill and bedridden, so we were forced to live on welfare. My mother certainly had family_mcdonoughher hands full, taking care of a sick husband and seven children. We lived in a housing project in St. Paul, Minnesota.

When you hear the words “project,” you often think of a slum, right? Well, this was not a slum. Everyone who lived in our neighborhood mowed their yards, planted flowers in their gardens, and made sure that their children were well-behaved. It was a nice neighborhood to grow up in. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even aware that we were “poor” until I entered middle school. Yes, I was naïve. But I was happy.

In our neighborhood, each apartment building looked exactly same. There were four apartments to each building, all on the ground floor, wash 300labeled with the same number but from A to D. We lived on Timberlake Road in Apartment A. Our apartment had two levels with one downstairs bedroom, three upstairs bedrooms and two bathrooms. We also had a kitchen, living room, and basement.

One of my fondest memories of growing up was wash day. My mother always did the laundry on Mondays. As a matter of fact, it seemed that Monday was the big laundry day for most of the neighborhood. As you walked through the backyards, all the clothes lines were filled with laundry swaying in the wind. And since we couldn’t afford a dryer, she’d also hang our wash out to dry. As I lie in my bed on Monday nights, I would revel in the smell of those fresh sheets.garden

Another wonderful memory is also associated with my dear mother, God rest her soul. She loved to plant flowers and every spring she would lovingly plant her flower garden, taking care to water them and weed them. She took such pride in her garden. As I stated before, many of our neighbors did the same. It was a lovely sight to see – gardens full of flowers, plants, and rose bushes. It was as though they wanted the world to know that even though they were poor, they were still hopeful that tomorrow would be a better day.

I enjoyed my childhood – it was a happy one. And even though we didn’t have much, we had what we needed, and that’s the most important thing of all – the love and support of each other. And what more can you ask for?

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Writing 101- Day Ten: “Happy Leftovers Day”

Day Ten – Happy Leftovers Day:

* Today’s Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal.

* Today’s Twist:  Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

To me one of the best things in life is to sit down and enjoy a wonderful meal, and the best part of a wonderful meal is if you are sharing it with family.

I grew up as the middle child of seven children, and we never failed to sit down to dinner together as an entire family every single day. It was an expectation. As a matter of fact, it was a rule that if the telephone rang during the dinner hour, it was never answered so that we could eat our meal uninterrupted by the outside world. And we never ate our meals in front of the television set. That would be absolutely unthinkable! Instead, we shared the details of our lives, which later became the model for me and my husband’s dinner rules when raising our own children.

We shared many special meals, especially those during the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but when I consider what my favorite meal is, it’s one that my mother used to prepare as part of leftovers: chicken and dumplings. My mom made the best chicken and dumplings I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste (naturally, I’m probably biased). And my favorite part of the meal were the potato dumplings.

My mother was full-blooded German, and her mother taught her how to make those delicious potato dumplings that I loved so much. I remember that whenever I learned that we were going to have chicken and dumplings for supper, I’d look forward to it for the rest of the day, and could hardly wait for supper to arrive, just so I could eat those dumplings! And eventually I figured out that whenever we had leftover mashed potatoes after Sunday dinner that the next night was the time we’d have the potato dumplings, because the mashed potatoes were the main ingredient for the dumplings. She’d mix the mashed potatoes with flour and I think she used milk and then she’d dumplingsdrop them into the boiling water. Now these dumplings weren’t your spoon-sized dumplings. They were indeed the size of potatoes, and once they had chicken gravy ladled over them, they were so tasty.

After I was married, I tried to make those potato dumplings, but they’d never turn out the same as my mother’s. I’d call her and say, “Mom, the dumplings didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. What did I do wrong?” She’d just laugh and say, “Cindy, it just takes practice, that’s all.” Of course, she didn’t have a “recipe” for them. She just made them the way any good cook does – by memory and instinct. I never have been able to duplicate them to this very day.

And her baked chicken was always the juiciest, moistest, most tender chicken you’ve ever had. It makes my mouth water to think of it. Those two things, (the chicken and dumplings) together with some corn on the cob and hot rolls and butter makes the perfect meal.

I only wish my mom were still here to share a meal with our entire family, but knowing that she’s watching over us and that some day we will see her again makes me smile.

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Essence of Reminiscence – Week 1 – That Unforgettable Journey: “A Dream Come True”

As we sat down to supper the night that my husband, Michael, gave us the news, I could tell he had a special announcement for us. There was a twinkle in his eyes as we said grace, and he was rushing us through the prayer so fast that we could barely keep up. We had hardly spoken the word “Amen” when he began to speak.

“Okay, everyone, listen. I’ve got some really exciting news to tell you!” Then he paused, deciding he would keep us in suspense.

“What is it, Dad?” inquired twelve-year-old Sarah.

“Well. . . we’re going on vacation. . .  to a very special place.” cabins-on-a-lake

“Ooh, Daddy,” gushed ten-year-old Stephanie, “are we going to the cabin again — the one where your boat got blown away?”

“Nope,” laughed Mike,”that’s not it.”

????????????????????????????????????????“Are we going to see the mountain where the presidents are?” guessed Sarah.”

“Mount Rushmore? Nope. That’s not it, either.”

Everyone became silent, out of guesses as to where it might be.

“Okay, dear,” I said, “we give up. Why don’t you tell us, for goodness’ sake?”

“Alright. We’re going to some place that you’ve always wanted to go, some place that they call the happiest place on earth.”

“Where, Daddy? Where?” Stephanie was pulling at her father’s arm.

I gasped, looking at my husband with wonder. “Are you kidding? Disneyworld? We’re going to disney world image 5Disneyworld?”

“Yep, Disneyworld.” He grinned at me, nodding his head.

By now both the girls were out of their chairs, jumping up and down with excitement. My husband told us the story. His sister Diane had won four tickets for a trip to Disneyworld with all the accommodations which she had no use for. She offered them to Mike. He offered to buy them at half-price (which is a steal, to say the least). He couldn’t say no to such a fortuitous deal that practically fell into his lap.

Disneyworld! It was the place where I had dreamed of going to as a young girl and I had always longed to bring our children there, but we could never afford it. Now fate was handing us the chance to make my dreams come true at last. It was July and our vacation was scheduled for November. As a matter of fact, we would be in Florida on Thanksgiving Day. But we were comforted by the fact that the hurricane season would be over by then. Our son Joe, was in college, so he didn’t want to take the time off to come with us.

airplaneThe months flew by, and before long we were on the airplane, landing in Orlando, Florida. We had been fortunate with our plane tickets, also. We actually were supposed to land in Texas and then take another flight to Florida, but the airline made a mistake with our seating assignments by not giving us four seats together. When I telephoned to confirm our flight, I discovered the error and complained about the mix-up, at which time they ended up giving us a direct flight to Orlando, and not only that, we were given first-class tickets and landed twelve hours sooner than we would have originally. So Providence was on our side from the beginning.

After we rented a car and checked into our hotel room, we decided we would spend the rest of the day just relaxing by the pool at the hotel. The next day we decided to go to see the Magic Kingdom first.

“Look, girls,” I pointed out, as we came closer to the amusement park. “We’ll have to take the big paddlemonorail boat across the lake to the Magic Kingdom, or we can take the monorail that goes over the tracks high above the trees. Which one should we take?”

“The paddle boat,” shouted Stephanie.

“The train,” shouted Sarah.

“Well, Mom, I guess it’s up to you,” said my husband, as we were pulling into the parking lot.

I knew which one I wanted to take. The big paddle boat was painted white, and it looked just like the river boat right out of the movie Showboat.

“Let’s take the paddle boat.”

“Mom wants to take the paddle boat, girls, so that’s what we’ll do.”

We parked the car and walked over to where we had to pay for the park tickets. We had already bought four-day passes for a discount price at the hotel, so we showed our passes there and were each given bracelets to wear. Then we went to the dock and waited with all the other tourists for the paddle boat to come and pick us up.

When it finally arrived, the girls were so excited they could barely contain themselves.

“It’s a double-decker, Mom. Can we go on the top deck, please?” begged Sarah, pulling at my arm.

paddle boat 10“Sure, Honey, I think we could manage that. What do you think, dear?” I looked at my husband, expecting a positive answer.

“Yep, let’s go.

I grabbed Stephanie’s hand, not wanting her to get lost in the crowd, and began to climb the steps to the top deck. magic kingdom 500We had no sooner arrived on the second deck when the whistle blew and the paddle boat began to move through the water toward the other side of the lake where the Magic Kingdom was located.

After five minutes of traveling on the water, the Magic Kingdom came into view and it was so beautiful. It was even more beautiful than I had ever imagined it would be. Then some music began to play from some hidden speakers located all around us. After a few bars, I recognized the tune immediately and a lump formed in my throat, while tears threatened to spill from my eyes. The music was “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

In that moment, I thought, “I finally made it here. My childhood dream has come true at last, and I’m able to share it with my daughters, and I know they’ll remember it forever.”

I was so happy. All I wanted to do was relish the experience because I knew that this particular moment in time would never return again and I would never feel exactly the same way again. For very seldom is one able to experience their dream vacation of a lifetime —  even though it happens forty years later than it was wished for — and sometimes dreams really do come true.

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When you wish upon a star

Makes no difference who you are

Anything your heart desires

Will come to you

 

If your heart is in your dream

No request is too extreme

When you wish upon a star

As dreamers do

 

Fate is kind

She brings to those to love

The sweet fulfillment of

Their secret longing

 

Like a bolt out of the blue

Fate steps in and sees you through

When you wish upon a star

Your dreams come true

 

(Lyrics by Ned Washington)

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”  ~ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

 

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This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post. If you’d like more information about this event, please click here:

That Unforgettable Journey

Essence of Reminiscence – Week 4 – Random: “Every Time I See Candy Dots on Paper . . . “

 

I was the middle child of seven children. As you can well imagine, growing up in such a big family meant that we didn’t exactly live in the lap of luxury. As a matter of fact, we spent most of our childhood living in a housing project in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to the fact that our father was very ill, and our mother not only had to take care of a sick husband, but seven children as well. But when you grow up not knowing what you’re missing, wearing the hand-me-downs from two cousins and two sisters before you seemed to be the normal way of life, and you didn’t even mind it when your mother patched over the already-there patches on your favorite pair of jeans. It’s just the way it was. We made do with what we had, and if we went to bed with our tummies not quite full enough, we didn’t mind so much, because at least we had each other to commiserate with. Not that we ever starved — but let’s just say that we never had leftovers!

But the day of the week that we all lived for was Sunday, because Sunday was the day that Grandma and Grandpa came to visit.

german folk songThese were my mom’s parents, and they were German through and through, having immigrated from Germany when they were both in their teens. Anyway, I remember how my Grandma and Grandpa would always speak a smattering of German words, and especially I remember how my Grandma would always call me “Liebchen.” She even taught me how to sing the German folk song, “Du, du liegst mir im Herzen,” but the only thing that I can remember about it is that the first phrase means: “You, you are in my heart,” and she would sing it with me all the time. Ah, how I loved singing that song with Grandma!

My Grandpa was such a trickster and we loved him so. He loved to chew snuff, and whenever Sunday rolled around, Mom would always take out the coffee can which she stored underneath the sink, and place it on the floor next to his favorite chair so he could spit out his snuff into it. He copenhagen snuffused to hold out his snuff-box to us kids and say, “Here, here, want some? It’s candy.” And then this sly grin would come across his face while he waited for one of us to try some. And if perchance one of us kids would actually try to take him up on his offer by trying to take some snuff out his box, he would gently slap their fingers, pull the box away, and say, “Too late! Too late!” as he chuckled, shaking his head, and then he’d hobble away on his cane with a wicked little grin on his face. It’s funny. We always knew what he was going to do, but it never failed – someone always tried to take snuff out of the box. I think we all just wanted to play this little game with him.

But I think one of the reasons that we kids loved Sunday the most was because after Sunday dinner, when all the dishes were washed, dried, and put away, Grandpa would give each of us a dime. Now I know that today a dime won’t buy much, but fifty years ago, a dime bought plenty. So Mom and Grandma would take us children for a stroll down to the local candy store. And yes, that’s what it was called back then. It was then that we were each able to spend the precious money that Grandpa had given. I think Mom went just because she was happy to get out of the house, but we kids definitely went solely for the candy! After all, kids will be kids, right?

When we arrived at our destination, each of us would carefully looked over all of the candies displayed on the shelves lined up behind the glass showcase they were in. There were so many choices, so many ways to mix and match! I was always very thrifty with my dime and tried to get the kinds of candy where you could buy two or three pieces for a penny, thereby ending up with more than just ten pieces of candy by the time I had spent the entire dime.

candy dotsRemember the little sugary dots of candy that were stuck to the paper? That was my favorite kind of candy to buy. It just seemed so economical to buy that candy. I mean, you could get an entire long strip of paper with so many dots of candy on it for only one cent! It just made so much sense to me to buy that candy, right? And it was so delicious!

So now, whenever I come across those little sugary dots of candy on strips of paper, it brings me back to those carefree days of my childhood; to a time when all I had to worry about was how I was going to spend ten pennies. And it makes me long for those days that I spent with my Grandma and Grandpa. How I wish I had them back again. How I wish they could have known my husband and children and that they, in turn, could have known them.

If I had only known back then how precious those days would be to me now, perhaps I would have savored them even more. I tell my children, who are amazing and wonderful young adults – live life to the fullest; don’t rush so much; remember that tomorrow may never come; etc. etc. etc. But I don’t know if they hear me. After all, they have a full life ahead of them. And maybe I didn’t listen to my mother at that age, either.

But there is one thing that I do know — memories are forever and they will live on inside each of us. And my heart warms, smiling as I remember each precious one.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. ~ Alex Haley

 

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This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post.

Random

Red-Letter Saturday #5: “She Loves You by the Beatles”

RED-LETTER SATURDAY #5:

beatlesOn this day, August 23, 1963, the Beatles released the hit single, “She Loves You” in the United Kingdom, which went to Number 1 on September 12th and stayed number 1 for four weeks. “She Loves You” was the best-selling single for the Beatles in the United Kingdom. The single set and surpassed several records in the United Kingdom charts, and set a record in the United States as one of the five Beatles songs that held the top five positions in the American charts simultaneously on April 4, 1964. 

 

 


 

Who could ever forget this iconic song by the Beatles? I’ve read a bit about this song, and in my research, I read that it was this particular song which thrust the Beatles full-scale into the British national spotlight. And part of the reason for this was due to the repetitiveness and effectiveness of the song’s “hook,” which is the “yeah, yeah, yeah”  chanted repeatedly throughout the song. As a matter of fact, they were so effective that in some parts of Europe, the Beatles actually became known as the Yeah-Yeahs!

 

 

But whenever I think about Beatlemania, I become a little bit sad. The reason for this is that when Beatlemania hit, I was only seven or eight; so therefore, I was too young to appreciate who they were. I was too young to be one of those screaming teenage girls in the crowd clamoring to get a glimpse of the Fab Four. I was too innocent to be among those adolescent girls who fainted in their seats as they listened to the four young men from Liverpool on stage singing and rocking to the beat of the music. I wasn’t old enough to be one of those star-struck girls sobbing her heart out as she watched John, Paul, George, and Ringo perform. Yes, I was just too young to be part of Beatlemania . . .

Come to think of it, maybe I was lucky! 🙂

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “From one generation to the next, the Beatles will remain the most important rock band of all time.”   ~ Dave Grohl

 

 

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This post is presented as part of my special weekly feature, Red-Letter Saturday. If you’d like to to know more information about Red-Letter Saturday, click here:

Red-Letter Saturday

 

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