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Category Archives: memories

Last night I went to my mom’s house and stole my history– grabbed my memories, like a thief in the night. Since many were so painful, I’m not sure why I wanted them–except that they were mine. I frantically opened every drawer, closet and trunk, until I found the photographs that meant that I existed, and was once a child.

I stared at the little girl in the airplane, hair flying in the breeze, in a baby-doll dress-trying to believe that she was me. Was I ever that child? Or did I always carry these burdens– this heavy baggage that weighs me down with each step.

My parents divorced when I was 2, and there are very few pictures of my dad. (Only the sound in my head, of my mom’s voice through all my life, telling me how bad he was.)

And there I was under the Christmas tree, with a package bow in my hair, eyes sparkling, next to my cousin, Jack. Happy and smiling at my grandmother’s house–the only place I truly felt safe.

My mom remarried, and I had a little brother. “Now we’re a family!” I shouted, at the news of his birth. I loved him with all my heart. What a beautiful baby he was! (But we never knew each other either, beyond those early years.)

And all the high school pictures followed-as I blossomed from a little girl into a young lady. My proms and graduation. My first real love.

My simple wedding– nothing fancy, but full of hope and promise. Two children, playing house.

My promotional pictures as a professional singer, with my first husband, Gary. So many dreams, and lots of time to make them come true. Or so we thought…But as we grew up, we also grew apart.

Then a new love followed.  I was still young, and full of passion and fire. Never have I felt as loved, as in the beginning. He was all that I ever dreamed of, and he made me feel cherished–for a time.

Another wedding-a real one this time. A beautiful bride with so much glow (and excitement) behind the eyes. Life was a great adventure!

Heartache and pain came along, but we held on, and weathered the storms, learning the true meaning of love.

Adopted a child, age 3. A beautiful little girl, with my long hair and big, round eyes– Chelsea Danielle. (I vowed that I would be the mother that I had always needed.) But she was troubled and full of anger. Slowly, we taught her how to trust and love. We didn’t give up on loving her pain away, but it was never easy or idyllic.

Then my birth dad died, before I had the time to truly know him. I visited in the summers as a child, and a few days at Christmas, but I longed for more all my life, and now it could never be.

And there’s Sam-my stepfather (since age 7.) We didn’t get along at first, but one of the most amazing stories of healing in my life, is how we grew to love each other more, with each passing year, after I was an adult. It wasn’t until after his death, that I realized that he represented security to me. I always said that if the world broke, he could fix it. But when he died, that was no longer true.

And there’s my mother through the years. Many different looks–many different moods. It’s almost like I never knew her either. But I loved her. I tried so hard to please her, but I’m not sure that I ever really did. Yes, now she favors my grandmother with each passing year, but only on the outside. (We do become our mothers after all.) I pray that it doesn’t happen to me.

I am torn–these are my memories, but do I really want them? Or would they be better left in the suitcases of yesterday? But if I don’t take them, who will pass them on for other generations? Will our story quietly die in an old musty trunk? Will they bring more tears than smiles in the years to come?

I go through each book-wanting to leave them all behind, and wanting to take them all. I settle on a compromise. I will take some of them-a few here and there, because after all, they are my memories. Now that my mom and I are estranged, I may never get another chance to gather my past from the yellowing pages. (If she finds that some are missing, I can make copies to appease her.) But now that her mind is fading rapidly, she’s not as likely to notice that my childhood is missing. (That’s okay, it’s been missing for a long time.)

Last night I got it back…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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Today I had a counseling appointment, and I was very glad that I did. I wanted to talk over some of my feelings about Chelsea and her mom reuniting. I told my counselor the story, read her some of the email, and tried to be honest about my conflicted feelings.

She understood totally why I felt the way I did, and said that I had nothing to be insecure about. If Chelsea’s mom had been mother material, she wouldn’t have had to give her up all those years ago. (Though I will always believe that the choice of adoption is a courageous one.) We talked about how all her childhood memories are with us, and that no one could step into the picture at this point, and be able to recreate that. We discussed how she had planned on living close by, and my counselor, who also knows Chelsea said that we will have to wait and see how this turns out. We know that it will be healing for Chelsea, as to any feelings of rejection she may have, and we know that this is an exciting “fantasy” time for her. I am quite sure that there will be a honeymoon period, and that is good. There should be.

The counselor and I talked about how it seems that God is in this, and He has a purpose, and it will be interesting to see it play out. She laughed, and agreed, when I told her that my thinking is that I will be here waiting, when the dust settles, and the shiny fades, and the new wears off.

Today we got an email from her mom, saying that she intended to go to Miami first, where she previously lived, and retrieve her “designer wardrobe.” It seemed an odd thing to say, and worrisome, from the point of view that Chelsea is so materialistic  already (through no teaching of ours), and I hate to see her mom encourage that side of her personality, as her mom mentioned in an earlier phone call having designer handbags and clothes in storage. When Chelsea heard about it, she quickly shouted, “Well, she can bring them to me.” (That most likely will happen.)

I so wish she would just spend time with Chelsea, and not try to win her affection through material things. (I’m praying that she will not.) Chelsea is the original “material girl”, and she sure didn’t get it from me, as my favorite stores are thrift stores. LOL! Today was the first time that I’ve been in the mall in months, and I was doing some clothes shopping for my mom, not myself.

Actually, I bought a new feather pillow, and some shoes that were on sale. It was a fun day of wandering aimlessly there, and of having lunch, and just being alone with my thoughts. And in the midst of it, the strangest thing happened.

I was having a late lunch in the food court, and when I sat down to eat,  it turned out that my table faced the carousel directly. It took me back to the first time that Chelsea came to visit us. She rode the carousel, and I remember holding her on the horse, like other moms were doing today. I also remembered all the years that passed, as she rode her favorite horse, Arabella (yes, I still remember the name), and I would stand on the sidelines, waving each time she came around into view.

I thought about how long ago that first ride had been…16 years. But in some ways, it seemed like just yesterday, and it was a strange feeling, of wondering where the time went, and to some degree feeling a little sad.

I reflected on the night that her mom placed her in my arms, and as we headed home from Pensacola, she turned 3 years old, right there in my arms. (And now, I have to place her back in her birth mom’s arms.) And so the circle of life continues, just like the carousel…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

I set my alarm for an earlier time, and then decided to go back to sleep. I slept a very long time, and figure that I must have needed to.  I finally got a little decluttering done today, organized some Christmas purchases, and made a few of my Christmas baskets.

I love to take a theme for a person, and arrange things in a gift basket to suit them. The first gift basket that I gave this year, was for my counselor. I know that God placed us together, as she helped me during the days when my stepfather was in the hospital dying, and afterwards as I faced being a caregiver for my mom. I fixed her a lovely assortment of desk items. I included a letter opener, a business card holder for her office, and one for her purse, with a high heel shoe and a rhinestone on the front. (Very girly.) I also bought a fancy small stapler. The desk items had flowers and rhinestones on them, and they all matched. There was also a trinket box with sequins, an emerald green perfume bottle, some stationery, and a card. She means a lot to me, and her basket was important. She loved everything, and immediately took her business cards out of her plastic holder on her desk, and put them in the decorative one.

If you would like to read more ideas on Christmas baskets, here’s my article : http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/420839/christmas_gift_baskets_with_a_theme.html

Tonight I played with a doll baby that I bought for a great niece. The baby made various sounds when you pushed its hands or feet, or gave it a bottle. (It cried, it giggled, it gurgled, and made one sound that I had my doubts about-lol.) I had the most fun with it, and my husband was quite amused also. It has been awhile since my daughter was a little girl, and I bought dolls for her.

I worked on my mom’s Christmas basket, and I was saddened that I no longer get to make one for my mother-in-law, as she is in assisted living in a town pretty far from us, in central Florida (near her 2 other sons), and doesn’t want or need a lot of extra items around, so we have been resigned to giving her pajamas or socks, or something of that nature (by request), but it just doesn’t seem right.

I also worked on a Christmas basket (with stocking stuffers) for my teenage daughter (19). I thought back over all the years that I bought her Christmas gifts, and filled her stockings. It seems so long ago, and yet it seems like yesterday. She has moved out again recently, and says she wants to spend Christmas Eve at home. I was glad that she wanted to be here for that night. We always have a simple, but enjoyable brunch on Christmas of warm cinnamon buns, orange juice and coffee. She remembers this tradition throughout the years, and doesn’t want to miss it. It is our best “immediate family” time.

So, as I am finally getting a little of the Christmas spirit, I find that memories are bittersweet. I miss my birth dad, my stepdad, my grandparents, and others who have gone on. I also think of all the ladies on our Grief Discussion Board who have lost their husbands (or another close loved one), and are fighting back the tears daily, during this holiday season. As sad as it is to be Moderator on the Main Board there, and to have to deal with death daily, it reminds me to never take my loved ones for granted, for we are not promised forever here on earth.

So, tomorrow I will continue my cleaning, trying to get the house prepared for Christmas guests, for food, and games and laughter (and sometimes tears.)

And I realize that I am the one who is the “glue” at this time for my family-the one who brings us all together to celebrate. I wonder how much longer we will continue to gather, and if it will end with my mother’s passing, because the group is already shrinking. But for now…I have an opportunity to create special memories for those I care about. And the greatest gift that I can give them is my love…