The Sentimental Memory Collector

I’m sentimental and I like to collect memories.  When I worked on the Junior League of Boston’s 2006 Decorator Show House, my co-chairwoman, Audra, gave me a brown sequined hair tie.  It was such a little thing and since that time, she’s given me many fine gifts.  She is outrageously generous.  But it’s the little hair ornament that means so much to me and I’ll never throw it out.  I hope it never breaks.  I wore it last week and I quickly e-mailed Audra and let her know I was thinking of her.  See what I mean?  I’m sentimental.

Yesterday, I was reminded that it was Robert Frost’s birthday; I was sorry I had missed an opportunity to write about one of his classic poems and share a memory.  The window for writing winter-themed stories and articles is quickly closing.  It will be too warm to write this story on my father’s birthday in May, but since there is a chance of frost this week (no pun intended), I think it’s time.

When I stay at home, affectionately called Motel Four, my father and I like to get up early.  On a winter morning, he’ll start a fire in the wood stove and I start the coffee.  We like to drink our coffee and start shouting right out of the gate.  We are “Morning People.”  My mother is not a morning person.  She wants to read the paper in peace, sipping her herbal tea.  If the Tee Vee news is on, it is bedlam until my mother tells us to “cool it or else.”

This past Christmas Day, I knew it would be in our best interest to stay out of my mother’s kitchen after breakfast while she started our Christmas dinner.  So I said to my father “Let’s go and take a walk on The Farm.”

After some hesitation and some rustling around to find the right footwear (it was spitting snow) and some holsters (in case we saw coyotes) we headed off in my Jeep.  Yackety yacking with the radio blaring, we parked at the end of the paved road right next to the Little River.  The road wasn’t too icy and we ambled along for about a mile until we got to “The Farm.”  We inspected the wood my father and Uncle Bob had cut in the fall and we plinked away at a box someone had left on a fence post for just that purpose.

It was cold and grey and peaceful.

After concluding that everything was exactly as my father had left it, we turned around and started walking silently down the road towards the river.

Randomly, my father said “Whose woods these are I think I know.  His house is in the village though; he will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow.”

My father is not a scholar.  He’s happier sharpening his chain saw blade or splitting wood with a wedge than reading poetry.  I don’t know what made him remember a poem which was likely popular when he was of an age to memorize poetry.

I was struggling to remember the next line since a whole educational generation had passed and mine had not needed to memorize poems.  Somehow, I managed to say “My little horse must think it queer to stop without a farmhouse near.”

Then, my father said “the darkest evening of the year.”

I told my father that Robert Frost had written the poem when he lived in New Hampshire.  Then we walked on in silence.  When we got home, it was warm and cozy and my mother was talking and laughing on the telephone with her brother from Florida.

I don’t think my father thought much about it, but the partial recitation of an old poem had created such a powerful memory for me that I wanted to hold it close.  I scribbled my recollection of it on a scrap of paper and stuck it in my purse.  I wanted to tell someone about it, but maybe they would not see it the way I did because I’m a sentimental memory collector and they’re not.

It was the kind of thing I would like to remember forever.

I’ve had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with my mother and father.  It’s not always perfect and I know they get tired of me and my tomatoes by the end of the summer.  Still, I’m lucky because someday, maybe they’ll be gone and I’ll have all these memories.

I’m glad I could share this one with you.

Do you have a favorite memory of a parent?

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