The Value of Memories

Dad -1

Saturday night I returned from Albuquerque emotionally drained. After several years of resisting to downsize, my dad made the painful decision to sell his house and move into a retirement community. My dad loves this house that sits at the base of the Sandia Mountains. It is a home that my parents built 43 years ago and a place where they shared a good life. It is the home in which they raised and nurtured a family. When my dad called me a couple weeks ago to tell me he had sold the house the news was bittersweet. I knew that I would have to travel to Albuquerque and help my dad prepare to move. What was daunting was the prospect of having to make decisions regarding what to keep, sell and throw away. What was painful was knowing that this visit to assist my dad would be my last visit to my childhood home. The four days I was in Albuquerque, we worked intensely from the time we left the breakfast table until we went to bed. We inspected every drawer, cabinet and closet and set aside the things that were meaningful to each of us. I carefully chose items that were inextricably linked to memories of my childhood. These included a crepe pan, a fondue set, a small round powder box I had covered in velvet and embroidered with flowers for my mom and some delicate bird ornaments that clipped onto our Christmas tree every year. The things that I could not not bring back with me I willed myself to etch within my being:

the smell of the spice cabinet in the kitchen; quails calling at dawn outside my bedroom window; my dad’s brisk footsteps in the morning as he made his way downstairs and the swooshing of the den slider as he stepped out to retrieve the paper; classical music emanating from the kitchen radio, the aroma of coffee brewing and pancakes on the griddle wafting upstairs luring me to get out of bed on Sunday mornings.

My plan was to photograph my dad in every room. I drew comfort from knowing that I would have documentation of what had existed. Unfortunately, I was unable to muster the energy to progress beyond the kitchen. I am fine with that now. The kitchen was the heart of our home. It was where our family always came together. My most pleasurable memories were created in that space. I know my dad will have his memories too, memories we created as a family at 102 Juniper Hill Place.

Dad -2

 

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14 comments
  1. Deborah Timberlake said:

    Thank you for this lovely posting.

  2. Margarita Montalvo said:

    You made me cry, Beate. Beautifully written!!!!!!
    I know exactly how difficult that was for you.

    By the way, I saw the painting I made for Doris
    in 1988, in the back of Peter’s photograph in the
    kitchen.

    Love,
    Margarita

    • You are right Margarita. Your painting is part of my memories too and it has been captured in this photo. Your painting was the first thing I saw when entering the den from outside. It always brightened up the room and reminded me of my mom cooking arroz con pollo which I now make when I am especially missing her. The only ingredient I am missing are the aji dulce peppers which I am now trying to grow. Hope to spend more time with you next time I visit.

  3. Joanna White said:

    My heart is with you both. What a wonderful home and family! I loved being there and with you all. Best wishes on the next stage. Love, Joanna

    • Thanks Joanna. Some positive things will come out of this move.

  4. Ernest said:

    Please send me his new address when he finalizes the move. I have his cell number. Is it still the same?

    Uncle Ernie

    Sent from my iPhone

    Ernest J. Baca, Jr.

    >

    • His cell should be the same. I will send you his new contact info when I receive it. Love to all.

  5. EUGENE diaz said:

    Oh Beate, your memory of your childhood in your home is written so beautifully. My whole being went along with your sentiments as if I were part of your immediate family. Your Dad looks great, how is he doing in his new place? I am sure that his move was bitter sweet and that he will need some time to adjust. I will call him. Love, aunt Hildy   

    • I do have such wonderful memories of growing up in NM. That is a gift and I am very grateful. As we know, everything in life is transient. It is just harder to let go of some things.

  6. Amelia Caruso said:

    My heart is with you.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. Lizzie Oquendo said:

    What a gift you have! As I read your moving story, it made me think about my own childhood home and fondest memories there! What sensibility and wonderful writing! What a blessing to still have your Dad and being able to be with him! Thanks for sharing and stirring my heart once more!

  8. Edie Williams said:

    Oh, Beate! How wonderful of you to share your personal experience! Having the pleasure of meeting your Dad when I was gifted the time I spent getting to know your Mom on those few occasions this is very special to me! And I certainly appreciate the insights you shared being the adult child reflecting on your many memories of your ancestral home. I do hope your Dad is transitioning well in his new living circumstances. And you are enjoying the peace of being a good daughter!

    I have also enjoyed all your Atlanta posts. The baseball accounts were very meaningful. I sense that you have settled in well in Your “new” community (I dare to ask how long now?)

    I have been remiss in offering financial support for your special project; I will place at top of my to do list. Are you still enjoying your solo practice in Doctor’s office?

    Life is good for all of us. I can’t remember when I Wrote last: oldest son, Burr, got married to Amanda after a 7 year relationship; it was a unique & fun wedding in Austin in April. I had an unusual adventure in May: went with 9 of my high school girlfriends to Paris & Provence; we were celebrating our 50th high school graduation year! And Ryan & Anna have an “oven for their bun”; the surrogate pregnancy is very early (technology is amazing since I was pregnant) so they are not publicly announcing yet; but, so far so good! Amazingly, their surrogate is a nurse @ TMH so we will be more involved than we might have been! (I have a friend whose son/dtr-in-law are close to delivery by their surrogate who lives across the country from them!) I will let you know when their news goes” public”; it has been a fascinating subculture to learn!

    I wish you & your family a good 4th of July and rest of summer. We don’t get to Atlanta often but if I can ever have extra time to contact you I certainly will! I do miss you…..

    Love, Edie

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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