by Linda Shaffer
One of the best parts of getting old is that most of our days leave a memory behind and our lives leave a real treasure chest of them. Yes, a time comes for many of us when those memories might be hard to find. Days might go by without us remembering what we did or said or who we talked to. Until that time though, we tend to remember our lives with great detail…or at least the kinds of details we’ve collected.
My mother is good at dates. She remembers birthdays and anniversaries, ages of family members and death days. I’ve never been good at this sort of thing because my brain does not remember these kinds of facts. I tend to remember feelings, smells, tastes and situations. I remember laughter but I’m sure my mom remembers that too, since we shared a lot of it. I used to track old feelings of sadness and anger but gave that up because it was taking up valuable space for new and better memories. When you get right down to it, it’s pretty silly to replay something awful from 60 years-ago that causes upset. Those old, moldy memories have to go.
The ones to cherish are the ones which make you laugh or lead you to a series of memories from a time in your life when things were good. The other day I saw a home improvement show where the contractor built bunks for two little boys who shared a room. The beds were very special because they had hide-outs under them and they were connected. This made me think of all the hide-outs my brother and I had while we were growing up. I asked my Old Geezer friends about their hide-outs too and if any of them had forts. As it turns out, these two things are really pretty much the same. Hide-outs can be in a closet, under a blanket or in a valley of the roof of a house. All you need is a handy window to climb out of, bravery, giggling girls and an appreciation of being under the stars. This sounds like a very cool place to hide out and very private too!
Fear of heights kept me off the roof but I did like those little cubby holes in old houses that led to the attic. Attics were always full of treasure and they smelled funny. I liked hay mows, too but they smelled good. The most adventurous hide-out memory my brother and I had happened in a lemon grove during a time when my dad was stationed in California. One day after we’d set up our play area under a tree and were munching on a lemon, we were advised by a man with a shotgun to go away and not come back. We quickly gathered up our rubber army troops, apologised for the lemon and ran for home. After that our popularity soared when we were able to confirm all the stories about “the GUY with the GUN” who roamed the grove looking for trespassers. Trust that we stopped hanging out at that hide-out.
Mr. S and his brothers watched Walt Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson and immediately set about building a fort between two spruce trees on the hillside behind his folks’ place on the Wilson River. They snatched up any and all available wood scraps and slabs to create a ladder made of 2 x 4’s leading to a small platform which eventually had a roof. This was a far more successful venture than their stick frame, covered with skunk cabbage (too soft) and then moss which worked but collapsed under the weight of their dog Babe, who wanted to play too.
When I lived in Fort Rock, my girls set up housekeeping in an old outhouse behind the Grange Hall. I’ll never forget that day. They were so excited to take their dishes and playhouse things out there, “It’s got a door and everything mom!” I asked if it smelled funny but they were already gone. A fort is a fort.
It occurs to me that since the Covid Pandemic began, we have been using our homes as forts. My recliner is at the center of my hide-out and it seems to have a magnetic quality. All the necessary stuff I use each day has found its way to the recliner. Yes, I put things away every once and awhile but the same things manage to make their way back. That’s the way a good hide-out is. All your important stuff needs to be there in order for it to work. It’s also a good home base to find some of those memories from the good old days you’ve so carefully stored over the years. If you take them out and play with them, you’ll have some fun. I promise.
Have a good week my friends.