Monday, May 28, 2012

My Memorial Day Memory

My Memorial Day memory takes me to France. There on the beaches of Normandy I stood, a tourist, not a soldier. On the way, I was flirting with the young French guide driving me, carelessly playing with body language and eye contact. Never once did I think that where I was headed was anything more then a scratch off my history major bucket list. This was over ten years ago – but the day is still clear in my brain. By the time I left those beaches I felt thankful. Thankful to the men who never left that beach and gave me the gift of a life filled with carefree flirtation.

When I opened the door of the van it hit me immediately. The place felt alive, even though it is filled with death. It was quiet. It was pretty. The wind was blowing and it was overcast, but the crosses of the American cemetery and memorial where glowing bright, clouds could not stop the sun from reflecting life off each pristine marker.

To walk the beaches of Normandy – see the garbage of war still littered – is to understand why Memorial Day is not a day off from work; it is a day to reflect. I am not a soldier. I am not a flag-waiving patriot. I don’t get the military and I don’t feel connect to any war, peacekeeping mission or conflict I have read about or seen on the news. But I am a grateful American who walked in the path that killed many and in so doing I was forever branded with gratefulness for their sacrifice.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What is the best gift you ever received?

I think I was 5, maybe 6 when I came down Christmas morning to find a house. A giant, white doll-house with more floors, rooms and furniture then the real house I lived in. This house was for play; the dream house where every young girl, who believed she was a secret princess waiting to be found, wished she lived. It had double French doors leading to a balcony, a claw-foot bathtub, a canopy bed and fireplace. There was a formal dining room and I think I remember a grandfather clock. I don’t remember the kitchen, even at 6 I had no interest in cooking, but I remember the little roll-top desk with drawers that worked. 

There are many details about that house still in my memory, but the one detail that made this ultimate toy better than any other was the pink trim around the windows. I new that specific shade of pink and I recognized each mini piece of wood perfectly glued to the exterior. The memory of recognizing that pink is strong because I had helped paint it. One random day, I came in from playing and found my Dad sitting at our kitchen table painting little pieces of wood pink. He had an extra brush and I joined him at his task. Out of context the pink pieces, even this moment with Dad meant nothing to me. In context, that Christmas morning, I instantly new my Dad had made the house. In my euphoria of presents I doubt I verbalized that I had made the connection, but in that mila second of recognition I created a memory strain still cherished as my private family heirloom. 

I played with the house; it was not created to sit on a shelf for people to appreciate the craftsmanship. I know I broke it, colored the base green (it needed landscaping) and had many a prince dive off the balcony (or did my dolls push them?). I have no idea what happened to it; but I never cared. The best gift that I ever received was not the house; it was the knowledge that my Dad made something for me - he loved me that much.