Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas writing challenge

My sister Amy is doing a Christmas writing challenge. I wanted to join in on her second one, Most Vivid Memory. Here is the challenge:

I think the most vivid memories have two separate connections that keep them strong: a sensory connection and an emotional one. If that holds true for you, include those details in the telling.

The memory that fulfills this challenge was the Christmas I was 9. My Grandpa Fuzz had died two days before Christmas, and I was heartbroken. I had never experienced death before, and I was in unknown and frightening waters.

That Christmas morning we got up and opened our presents the same as always. My Grandma Florence was living with us, and she seemed so sad. I can remember her saying how sad she was that Grandpa wasn’t with us that day. This surprised me, because for months Grandma hadn’t been Grandma, due to her downward slide into Alzheimers; I was surprised that she remembered that Grandpa had died.

Later, we all went to our annual Christmas gathering at my other Grandma’s house, Grandma Elsie (who we called Grandma ELKSIE because we didn’t know any better!) In this memory, I am sitting on Grandma’s living room floor in front of her fireplace. I was playing with my new Barbie, and I kept smelling that new Barbie plastic smell. I can remember thinking about how not many of my Aunts or cousins had admired Barbie, or talked to me. I remember thinking that if only Grandpa had been there, HE would like my Barbie. HE would notice me, and be glad I was there.

I think Amy is right. I had never thought of it, but that is sadly one of the most powerful Christmas memories I have because it is both sensory and emotional. I can still smell so clearly that Barbie doll, and I still feel that same desolation that my Grandpa is gone. I think since I was so young, his absence is more of a memory than his presence ever was. I was the youngest of 4, and my Grandma had my mom when she was in her thirties. I don’t remember things my Grandpa did with me really. He was more of a presence at Grandma’s house; a kind presence, but not an active presence for me. But I have felt his absence my whole life, and that absence started for me that day, on the white fluffy rug in front of the fireplace.

Reading over this, I wish this was a happier memory. But it is the last childhood Christmas I remember; the last one with a Grandparent’s house to visit, the last one feeling like a Granddaughter who had a Grandpa who loved her. And suddenly, that makes me sadder than I ever guessed I could be.

Gee, thanks Amy: you made me cry! And if you want to join in on writing sad memories (or happy ones!) go on over to Amy's blog.


Amy Sorensen said...

Wow---your memories from that Christmas are very strong. My clearest memory of that one is of listening to mom. She was lying on her bed talking on the phone to someone, and crying, making plans, and she said something about feeling that his spirit wasn't at rest yet. I stood in the hall, terrified at hearing her cry. I also remember how strange it felt to me, on Christmas morning, that the holiday still came, even though Grandpa was dead.

Like you, I don't remember many activities with Grandpa, just that overwhelming feeling of loving him so much. I miss him too!

Kasandra said...

Becky, what beautiful writing even if it was sad! Isn't it amazing what we remember and somehow writing it down seems to help us remember more! It's kind of funny how smells will bring back a flood of memories as well, different kinds of shampoo will do that for me.....strange I know!
Anyway thanks for sharing about your Grandpa........Kasandra

Robin said...

Thanks for sharing this vivid memory even if it was a little sad. It made me miss my grampa too and bring up memories of him.