Sunday, September 2, 2012

Memories in a box

As you know, I have been unpacking boxes that have been in storage for over seven years. I have found that  items seem to fall into four different categories:

1) Surprise! I forgot all about this!
2) Hello old friend! Happy to see you!
3) A walk down memory lane = instant tears.
4) Now where am I going to put THIS?

I have a terrible memory. I will be the first to admit it. I can't remember things from my childhood. I can't remember things from the other day. But funny how when I opened up a box filled with things from my KIDS' childhood, all the memories came flooding back. And the tears began flowing.

Because not only do these items bring back memories of my children, but also of what my life was like at that moment.

Here is my son, Jason's christening gown.

I don't know if I spoke of my son's health before, but he was very sick as an infant. Unbeknownst  to me and his father. We were young (early 20's). Jason was 3 weeks early. He never "dropped" into the birth canal. He was in fetal distress and was finally taken cesarean. At one month it was discovered that he was in congestive heart failure; his heart was very large, and he was hospitalized for a few days for some tests. Bottom line: he had a very large hole in his heart, and with the size and location, the doctors felt that he would need open heart surgery when he was around 2 years of age. In the meantime, he was put on digitalis, a heart medication to slow down and strengthen each heartbeat. Jason was very small for his age, and although he met every milestone, he was on the tail end of the timeline.

I had Jason baptized when he was 5 weeks old (we are Catholic), and my mother insisted that I tell the priest about Jason's health. I did what my mother asked and the priest said, "May I?" He took Jason from my arms, walked over to the statue of the Blessed Virgin, held Jason high into the air and said a silent prayer. Then he brought Jason back to me and said, "This child will NEVER require open heart surgery. I prayed to the Virgin Mary, and she ALWAYS answers my prayers."

I was amazed how strong this priest's faith was. And do you know that Jason NEVER had to have open heart surgery? When he was two years old and had a check-up, the cardiologist was shocked by the results. The hole had almost completely closed. Now, it's true the holes in the heart DO close, but it was unusual for Jason's to close due to the size and location. The doctors all admitted that it was truly a miracle.

This is the dress that Jessica wore to my second wedding. She was 2 1/2 years old. The plan was that she and Jason, who was 4 1/2, were going to walk down the aisle first, then Jim and I would follow. But Jessica had a cramp in her leg and wanted her Daddy to carry her. So all four of us walked down together. (The kids were from my first marriage - Jim adopted them 2 months after we were married.)

This little dog with its puppy belongs to Jessica. If you pull the puppy dog, it winds up a music box and plays "How much is that doggy in the window?" I remember pulling that cord many of times.

Although Jessica doesn't remember this one, he must have been a beloved pet, for his ear is missing.

I gave birth to Jessica on my own. I DID have my family with me, but my husband had left me for another woman. I was determined to bring up these kids on my own.

I have many more items, but I won't bore you with them. But I can't leave this one out.


A much-loved, slightly squished Grover.

Jason just loved Grover. He took him everywhere with him. When I was a single parent, I took some night classes at a local college. I would stay overnight at my parent's house and they would watch the kids. Jessica would be real good and sleep in the crib in my parent's bedroom. Jason would sleep between my parents, along with Grover. (Looking back, my parents were ANGELS!) My mom would get up early in the morning, and inevitably Jason would too. AND he would want his Grover. So Mom would go back into the bedroom to get the beloved stuffed animal, only to find that Grandpa had rolled over on one of Grover's legs or arms. Mom would have to pull real hard, trying to release Grover, but not to awaken Grandpa!

Another time Jason had to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. He began hemorrhaging after the surgery and the doctors had to go back and pack Jason's nose. Of course Grover was at the hospital with him. When Jason came out of recovery with a big bandage on his nose, so did Grover! It made Jason smile and made it a little easier so spend the night in the hospital.

So these items don't just bring back memories of when my kids were little, they bring back a time that was a mix of joy because of the birth of my children, scariness - because of Jason's health problems, but most of all  I am in awe of the strength I had because I went through all of that during a very messy divorce. I was very lucky to have Jim come into my life (my knight in shining armor!). He accepted me AND my kids, in good times and bad, sickness and in health, till death do us part.


Ami said...

A lovely post and a glimpse of your past. So glad your knight rescued you.


Monkey Man said...

this made me know how I feel about moms :) You are all very blessed to have each other.

Brian Miller said... have a beautiful story....a story that is not easy...yet no less beautiful....i am glad that you came through it all...quite the memories there...

Country Gal said...

A wonderful life story with all happy endings ! I to had been through a rotten marriage and divorce raising two boys thankfully they were healthy but it was still tuff . Then I met my hero who had also been through two horrible marriages , my shining star Papa , who took us in his arms and we have never looked back ! I am so happy that all are healthy both in your world and ours ! For me it all has made me a stronger better person and the wonderful memories we had made as a new family ! Have a good day !

Eva Gallant said...

So Jason never had heart surgery? That IS an amazing story. This was a very touching post. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Valerie said...

I had tears in my eyes reading this heart-rending story. I am so happy that you and your children got through it in one piece. Thank God for the Jims of this world and the healing hand of the Virgin Mary.

Lynda said...

Oh Pat, this is one of your most precious posts you have ever written. I didn't know about the hard times you had "back then". Each time you look at your son, you see a miracle of God. It made me tired to think about you being a single mom and going to school at night.
Your precious Jim - - - it sounds like he has been your hero since day one! I knew all the things he could do to help Big Blue - - and your camper - - like the antenna "dish". It is beautiful to hear how he become the husband and father your family needed and desired.

Wendy said...

Well dammit, Pat, now you have *me* in tears!
I have a box similar to that in my attic of things from when my girls were little that i just *have to* keep, too. Maybe one day, if either of my girls has a child, i may go through the box with that daughter...
And the tears will flow once again.
Thanks for sharing.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What a sweet trip down your Memory Lane--those stories--I hope you send this along to your kids to read.

Nancy said...

I love this post, Pat. All the little things that have so much meaning. I have to admit to having a huge storage unit with all of the things I couldn't part with when we moved back to our little condo in June. I hope someday to open them and have the same experience you have had.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A lovely and heartfelt post and I appreciate it very much. Give your shining knight a big hug -- he deserves it and so do you!!

labbie1 said...

Hey there! Been AWOL most of the summer! This was so special! I have a storage unit full of boxes that I don't have any idea what they may contain for the most part. Every so often when we are in the area, I go and peek in and see old friends waiting for us. Fun! Like Christmas! :) I like the way that you had the 4 expressions upon opening the boxes. Sounds about right. This box was sure a special one and the stories behind these treasures were so deeply moving. What a special day of memories--miracles, mayhem and ending with a knight in shining armor! Wow! I just doesn't get any better!

Gail said...

What wonderful memories.

Better than a photo album.