How Do You Organize Thirty Years of Memories?

cake 1Monday marks our 30th wedding anniversary. Harvey and I had known each other and had been friends for many years prior to our wedding. We realized that, to quote a 70s sitcom theme song, “…this group must somehow form a family. That’s the way we all became the [Stanbrough] Bunch.” 🙂 Anyway….

In October of 1983, Harvey got down on one knee and proposed. A few months later, while we were making plans to drive to Vegas, he received orders from the Commandant of the Marine Corps to report to Okinawa for a 13-month, unaccompanied tour of duty—well, that just sucked! We decided we’d wait until he returned. Two months and $900 in long-distance phone calls later, those plans changed. He was granted a three-week leave during which he flew from Okinawa to Arizona and then back again to finish out the remainder of his duty.

We were married on a gorgeous day under the palo verde and mesquite trees in Estrella Park just outside of Phoenix at 2:30pm on June 23, 1984. It was 116o. Every desert rat knows that temps over 110 are equivalent to Richter Scale readings—each degree is ten times hotter than the one before. Some quick snapshots were taken during and after the ceremony, but sweat doesn’t photograph too well. So we went back to the park three days later—in the morning when it was a mere 95o—set up the camera on a tripod, and posed for our official photos.

After Harvey’s tour of Okinawa was complete, we set up housekeeping in Yuma. Our house was 900 square feet with three bedrooms and one bath. Pretty cozy—except Yuma is hotter than Phoenix and one bathroom gets lots of use with a family of seven. The kids didn’t seem to mind, though. I have pictures somewhere of them playing outside, in shorts and barefoot, the week before Christmas, and many great shots of our family hikes in the surrounding desert.

In fact, we have scads of memories from all the places we’ve lived during the last thirty years that I want to preserve. But our memorabilia is stashed in steamer trunks and boxes and closets and drawers. For years, I’ve been meaning to organize it all into scrapbooks. But… well, you know… I never got a round-to-it.

the danceI’ve brought this on myself though. Fifteen years ago, Harvey had major heart surgery. As I put his wedding band on my thumb for safe-keeping while he was in the hospital, I told him that I expected at least fifteen more years of memories. Well, that’s not enough! On Monday, I’ll tell him that I expect at least thirty more. 🙂

It’s been nice chatting with you all. I’d better get back to my scrapbooking. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes—I promise it won’t take me 30 years to complete your project!

Family Heartbreak

mom sibs 2aThis week, my extended family suffered a heartbreaking loss. One of my aunts passed on to the other side. Of the five siblings, only one remains. My cousins, my sisters, and I take comfort in the fact that the other four are together again with no tears or pain. And even though we’re scattered across the country, we remain close and support each other.

Ours was a tight-knit family group that usually congregated around my mom—she was the oldest. It’s said that cousins are your first and closest friends. So true!

Some of my best memories are of us spending summer days in our backyard playhouse—a converted two-seater. Hey, it’d been moved onto our yard, so there was no pit under it and it’d been thoroughly cleaned before we played there. Dad took out the seat, boarded up the floor, and built a lean-to across the front. We had the only two-room playhouse in the area. It was even furnished—an old sideboard with the doors removed served as bunk beds in the back room and our living room suite consisted of a wooden bench and aluminum lawn chairs. We even laid a brick patio in front between the playhouse and a wooden A-frame swing that Dad built. Fancy!

The burn-barrel was located behind our playhouse in the back corner of our yard. Since the shortest distance between two points is a straight line—adult feet, kid feet, dog and cat feet, and bicycle/tricycle tires wore a diagonal path in the grass between the house and the playhouse. Actually, our yard consisted mostly of clover instead of grass—bee stings on bare feet hurt something awful!

Another family owns that house now—more than 50 years later. But the path is still visible—a reminder of those summer days long ago.

????????The news of my aunt’s death came via telephone on the morning that my son and his family were headed back to Indiana after spending a few days of their vacation with us. We hadn’t seen him in over a year and hadn’t met his sons.

As I connect the two events in my mind, I realize that one generation leads to and makes way for the next. Just remember that every event, no matter how insignificant it seems, creates memories for your kids and grandkids—make sure those memories are the best!

It’s been nice chatting with you all. My sisters and I are working on an heirloom project for the cousins who just lost their mom—more about that later. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes. I’d love to help!