Showers of Memories

Monday Morning Musings

It was a weekend of memories and dreams, of laughter and tears, of toasts and roasts, and of introductions and farewells. It was a weekend of closing well-used doors and opening new ones, of hugging and kissing family and friends, of unwrapping gifts, and of feeling thankful.

Part 1—Retirement Celebration

Remember thirty-seven years ago when we drove miles and miles—

(Are we there yet?)

to a new high school set in a field

and surrounded by farmland

and nothing else?

It seemed like the middle of nowhere,

and it kind of was,

it kind of still is.

“This is where I’m teaching,”

you said.

And that is where you stayed,

your home away from home.

I heard you lauded—

toasted

and roasted.

There were tales of you “borrowing”

the grade books of other teachers–

right before an administrator came for an observation.

In retaliation, some teachers pooled their funds

and had your car towed from the high school lot—

as you watched.

Teaching requires creativity.

And improvisation.

You will be missed,

but our daughter now teaches in the same district.

She will not take other’s grade books—even if they still existed—

(everything is electronic now)

But she has already made her mark with her Hello Kitty socks—

and daily dance parties in her classroom.

Teaching is hard work, but it can also be fun.

Our daughter will continue the tradition of educating

young minds,

of helping them to think and learn.

Now it is time for you, my husband, to do new things.

Retirement Celebration

Retirement Celebration

Part 2—The Bridal Shower

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Picking up my mom and her cousin,

we traveled to Manayunk,

the Lenape word for “river,”

or “place to drink.”

Or so I’m told.

It is a former industrial area, just northwest

of Philadelphia,

But now there are many trendy restaurants,

and we went to one.

Set on the canal.

Picturesque.

Getting my mom down the steps,

and into the event space

took some time,

but it was worth the effort.

Last summer at another restaurant

younger daughter hosted a shower for her sister.

This year their roles are switched.

Sister love

Sister hugs

Sister gestures and sister speak

I gaze at them with love,

awed that they are mine.

We will not cry.

Nope.

Maybe a little.

The guests swirl around,

the young ones like freshly-picked flowers.

We older women, more like—

No.

Not going there.

The young women like young wines,

delightful and full of promise.

We older ones,

robust, but still velvety—

elegant, but still playful,

aren’t we?

We have aged well.

Delicious brunch.

Perhaps a bit more.

Must try some dessert–

of course.

Chocolate.

Games played.

Laughter.

Presents opened.

We depart.

The young ones will

continue to celebrate

late into the nights.

Bachelorette night.

Cousin Sali amusing

on the ride home—

“Your mother was the good girl.”

‘Why can’t you be like Sylvia?’”

She said the aunts told her.

There were many aunts.

“They pointed out my faults

so they could improve me.”

“But your mother was always kind to me

she always let me tag along–

even though she’s older.”

Part 3—Baby Shower

Two days of seeing some special friends!

Yay!

For the past few years

we’ve been attending the showers and weddings

of our children.

Wasn’t it only yesterday that we were having baby showers for

one another?

Remember the one at the lake?

And remember when Pat punched a hole

in the wall?

Baby Big Hair.

Baby No Hair.

Now our babies are having babies.

Irene bravely driving,

Chris navigating.

“Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike,”

We don’t have to look for America.

We’ve found it

in our daily lives

and with our family and friends.

Showers, memories–

and dreams of moments

still to come.

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25 thoughts on “Showers of Memories

    • Thanks so much, David!! At our older daughter’s shower last summer, our younger daughter made a speech that had everyone crying. I told my husband that I better bring lots of tissues just in case this time. At this shower, my older daughter alluded to her shower, and then said she was going to stop talking before she cried. So the truthful answer is that I did not cry much–just got a bit teary. 🙂 I will have tissues handy for the wedding though.
      Hugs back!

  1. Three lovely vignettes. You are as good at prose poetry as you are at encyclopaedia writing, Merril. I enjoyed every one but will comment especially on the first piece. I do remember my retirement parties several years ago and could relate to the anecdotes. Once I put my grade-book on top of my car, it fell off as I as driving, and some kind soul retrieved it for me before I had gotten too far. Between the pages I think were copies of students’ soc. sec. numbers. Yes, we had access to such back then.

    And your daughter and her daily dance parties. Wow! When students came to my classes late, they had a choice of points off their grade or dancing for one minute to music, which was Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas in those days. The idea was not original with me, but I got a lot of mileage out of it, a silly way to reinforce promptness.

    It must have been fun to write and reminisce this morning. Now I think you deserve some rest! 😉

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Marian–and compliment, too! It was fortunate for you that that kind soul found and returned your grade book.

      My daughter has always done dance sessions. I know she did them in “the green room” before performances. She’s teaching 8th grade now, and I believe the dancing comes at the end of the first part of the double session she has with them before they move on to the next section.

      Did any of your students come late just so they could dance?

      I am suddenly overwhelmed with work–page proofs just arrive in an email this morning, test writing assignment due, and several book proposals to contemplate. I better get to work! 🙂

  2. No wonder you resonated with my post today, Merril! Now I have the back story. So many rituals in your life right now. And so many new challenges up ahead. I think I’ll just reach across this screen, pick up that luscious looking drink, and say, “Cheers!”

  3. Well, Merril, you must be feeling dizzy after all of these transition events. My Dad retired a few months back and is still pretty busy and hasn’t really had a chance to enjoy it yet. I hope you both navigate this time in your lives well as it’s not easy for either of you. Mum has mentioned her friends battling with husbands underfoot. She also mentioned that what some of their friends have missed most since retiring is their PA, I wouldn’t mind one of those myself!

    • My husband is going to be working at a local golf course–mowing lawns and such, so totally different from teaching. He’ll also do some math presentations for teachers through an educational resource center. Not sure what PA is. 🙂

      • A PA is a Personal Assistant. That person who is paid nby teh company to remember their family birthdays and no doubt choose gifts etc as well as running the diary.
        Your husband sounds like one of the teacher’s at the school. She ended up becoming the school librarian and absolutely loves it. She just needed to shift gears. It will be great for him to be in the outdoors while still keeping his finger in.

      • Oh, personal assistant–of course. Most of my friends are teachers–no PAs there. 🙂 Yes, my husband has been teaching for 37 years (at the same school), so he’s ready for a change!

      • Som eof my parents friends have been very Senior and used to the red carpet treatment so there’s quite a change in retirement. I’m sure their wives have no interest in filling the gap.

  4. How you do this in poetry is a thing of beauty on so many levels. My daughter also lives in Manayunk. Didn’t know it meant “place by the river.” Did know about the drinking, though. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Poetry challenge #5 Nonet: the entries | Jane Dougherty Writes

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