Wednesday
Jul112018

Summer Memories

Somewhere, I’ve not seen them for a while, I have a shoebox filled with spoons, hundreds of them and not one has ever been used as an eating utensil although one in particular was destined for such a task until I received it.  The collection started with an 1893 Chicago World’s Fair souvenir spoon and a few others equally as old that were given to me for some reason I really don’t remember.  I purchased an inexpensive spoon holder and hung it on the wall, happy to display them but now needing to fill in the vacant notches with more spoons.  Then, whenever we traveled we picked up a spoon to add to the group. 

State spoons, museum and zoo spoons, everywhere we went there seemed to be a spoon we could buy inexpensively.  Soon the spoon rack was filled and another had to be obtained, then another.  Friends would be on the look-out whenever they traveled and bring back a spoon; business associates would send me spoons from around the world.  An elderly friend of ours after seeing the rather large collection I had by now, contacted friends of his in Russia and had a miniature hand painted spoon made especially to join the display. In what seemed no time at all, an entire wall was covered in spoons.  My memory wall…

A little boy, now a man, “stole” a plastic spoon from a fast food restaurant still in its plastic wrapper.  That spoon always was in a special place of honor.  Another little boy gifted me with a black spoon that was over a foot in length.   I have spoons with animals on them, some with United States presidents and others depicting famous buildings or landmarks.  Each spoon has a story, just like friends.

 

Swan came to visit her son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter, staying with them for almost a year.  He was a college professor specializing in seed biology and could identify a plant from its seed but couldn’t tell you what it was once grown up.  His wife was a lovely young woman who understood and spoke very little English but her million dollar smile was a great communicator.  Their daughter, who was just starting school when they moved in next door to us, usually did duty as translator.  Once over the summer, they took a vacation and for some reason, they gave us their garage door opener to look after.  Not having such a contraption, many moments were spent pointing the opener from our kitchen window toward their garage door, just to watch it in action.

From that same kitchen window, we first spotted this tiny oriental woman dressed in pajamas posing in their backyard.  She moved slowly and gracefully from one position to another, one knee bent forward, arms stretched out in front of her, hands arched as if pushing against a wall, then curling back and repeating the motion, bending her other knee forward.  Oblivious, so it seemed, to her surroundings, she would add more movements that required her hands to be above her head while looking skyward then, dropping them slowly toward the grass below her feet and ending with hands outreached, as though ready to deliver a supplication.  At the end of the routine, the woman would just sit quietly on a bench for a few minutes before retreating back inside.

One early summer afternoon she came close to the fence while I was working in my vegetable garden, giving me a big smile and a hello.  She pointed to some of the plants and inquired as to their names then repeating them after me with a slightly different pronunciation. She then motioned to me to come over into her yard, wanting to know what was growing there.  Through a lot of pantomime and silly faces, we found a way of communicating.

She was a widow; her husband had been a doctor with a very successful practice and left her well taken care of.  Her children, two living in the States and one in Europe, would welcome her into their homes for as long as she wished, then put her on a plane when she was ready to move on, carrying photographs and stories and gifts to her next child’s abode.  I guess you could say she was a family ambassador, keeping everyone up to date on the other’s activities.

Over the course of that summer, we learned a little about T`ai Chi and the names given to the various positions like “part the wild horse’s mane” and “grasp the bird’s tail.”  She taught us how to play ping pong although she was so fast we never had a chance to keep up; her six-year-old granddaughter was even too good for us. We retaliated by taking Swan to a local gun range and teaching her -- a seventy-something, non-English speaking lady -- how to shoot a handgun and, we kept her secret from the rest of her family that she thought her daughter- in- law’s Chinese cooking left a lot to be desired. Swan had become addicted to fried chicken and whenever the rest of the family went out of town, she’d hitch a ride to her favorite chicken take out joint. We tried to teach her how to drive but that got way too scary. That was a summer filled with happy times.

Sharon

 

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