The wind gusts howling this past week here in Mesquite made my outdoor activities less appealing, so I forced myself to go through some of the many boxes stored in our garage. Boxes of things I do NOT need, yet have kept. Things that, I suppose, could have been left behind, but there just wasn’t time to think through what was unnecessary and what is really “treasure.” It was a hectic time, as I was finishing up teaching and tending to some family obligations in the Midwest.

For many of us, it’s hard to part with the treasures, the artwork, the photos. I know I’m not alone when it comes to sentimentality. I never did get scrapbooks neatly made for my kids  (triplets, now 31 years old!) were growing, but I learned from my mother to write down memories. Memories that don’t take up any space except the notebook in which I wrote them; today’s parents may use the computer, phone, or just take a quick snapshot and post it on Facebook to preserve those precious moments. In this Slice of Life column, I will be sharing some stories occasionally from my books that I hope might resonate with readers. Today’s memory is as vivid to me as the day it happened, 26 years ago, when my son burst into the kitchen after grocery shopping with Daddy:

“Look what we bought for you, Mommy!” Four-year-old Bryce excitedly unpacked the groceries he and Daddy had just purchased. “We bought some Cheerios, we bought a can of peaches….” He proudly placed each item on the counter. “We bought two loaves of Kleenex…Oh, and look what special thing we bought!” He reached into a grocery bag again and, with a flourish, exclaimed, “We brought you a bouquet of bananas!”

Two loaves of Kleenex and a bouquet of bananas! How stinkin’ cute is that?
I immediately wrote that little memory down in a notebook I keep in my kitchen drawer so that I wouldn’t forget it.

I learned to do this from my own mother. Raising five children on a bustling farm, she was busy but managed to capture memories by jotting them down in a notebook she kept handy. AS the youngest of five, her penmanship was much more hurried when she wrote about me than her neatly penned lines about my older siblings, but she got it done!  Although she didn’t get our baby books filled in until we were all grown, she had all the information and memories recorded in the notebooks. “Don’t worry about neatness!” she told me. “Use a pencil, a crayon, whatever is handy; just get it written down.” So, I kept two spiral notebooks in the living room and in the kitchen, so that I could readily jot down “slice of life” moments I wanted to remember…lost teeth, cute expressions, first steps, happy thoughts that I feared would be forgotten if not captured.

Most of the notebook entries moments are simple, unexpected “slices of life” in our everyday routine. I wrote the following entry in my notebook when the kids were just two. Sarah Jean was in her high chair, and I was serving up a mid-afternoon snack.
“Mama, can I have some snowflakes?”

“Some what, sweetheart?” I asked.

“Snowflakes,” she answered softly, her round blue eyes hopeful.

I had absolutely no clue what she could possibly mean, so I asked, “What will you do with the snowflakes?”

“Eat them,” she grinned, pointing to her bowl.

Aha! Cornflakes! After a little more question and answer, it turns out she had eaten them for the first time at our neighbor’s house the day before.

Another memory was made a few days later, when we were going for a walk in the stroller. Sarah Jean, in the middle spot of our triplet stroller, smiled brightly and whispered loudly, as if revealing a secret just for her and me to share, “Mama, I’ve got watermelons in my pocket!”

“Uh…you’ve got watermelons in your pocket?” I asked.

“Yes. See?” She reached into the pocket of her pink fuzzy jacket and triumphantly pulled out a little handful of fluffy silver pussy-willows she must have gathered during our trip weeks ago to the marshy area where they grew. I have no idea why she called them watermelons, but it was just so cute…worth jotting in the notebook.

Once written, a memory is forever preserved. Slices of life to savor.

Can you relate, and have a fun slice of life memory to share in the comments below?

Fortunately, those of us whose lifelong memories are stored largely in fading photos like this can now scan and store digitally now, freeing up space as well as preserving and sharing with ease.


One of the best things you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories.

                                                                                             -Sydney J. Harris

3 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Unpacking Memories

  1. My husband and I returned to my in-law’s home after one of our first outings sans son to be greeted by my mother-in-law looking rather harried. The first words out of her mouth were, “What on earth are ‘sassies’?” Oh my goodness. We had neglected to share with her, before our departure, that Grady was crazy about his new sun ‘glasses’.

    Another Gradyism that I wish had stuck was the way he pronounced Grampie. He called him “Dippie”. It still makes me giggle. (My father-in-law who had the best sense of humor did not enjoy “Dippie”, so unfortunately we could not encourage the use of that name and Grady soon learned to say Grampie.)

    1. ☺️😊aww! Love it! I’ll bet you think of “sassies” to this day when you pick up your sunglasses 🕶! Just as well Grady learned to say Grampie, I suppose—-but Dippie ands fun!

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