It may surprise my friends to learn that I actually have a very good memory. Not for what I ate for breakfast, or where I was yesterday, or what appointments I might have today, but for the funny and strange and poignant events of the distant past.
John O’Connor was a friend of Mom and Dad, and often visited, driving his Model A Ford. “Uncle” John only had one leg and walked on crutches. We looked forward to his visits because he gave us rides in the rumble seat of his car. One day he came with a surprise: boxes and boxes and boxes of candy and gum. A small candy store around the corner was going out of business and all of its contents were being auctioned off. It had been decided that the third bidder, whatever the amount, would take all. Uncle John was the third bidder. For twenty-five cents, the full contents of the store were his.
Since Uncle John had no children of his own, we became the recipients of much of the stock. Never before had we had any quantity of candy in the house. There was a dilemma, though. There was bubble gum in the assortment, a treat we were never allowed to have. “My father was a doctor,” Mamma would tell us, “and he said you could choke on it.” Her father had actually been a pharmacist, which I suppose was kind of like being a doctor back early in the 1900s. He had also died when she was two years old.
That isn’t to say that I never had bubble gum before that special day. Once I took a kitchen knife outdoors and scraped some up off the sidewalk. It’s okay, though. I did what all of us kids did for safety when food was dropped: hold it high, kiss it up to God, and then it was all right to pop it into our mouths.
This morning I shared this story with Ray, who then shared some odd memories of his own childhood. Then, once again we remembered how important it is to hang onto old memories and keep making new ones. Life is fleeting and takes its toll as we ultimately lose strength and cognizance. One day, memories will be all we’ll have.