My Memory Chest

I’m someone who has a hard time letting go. So I keep items that have value to nobody but me. These mementos reside in a cedar “memory chest” in my spare room upstairs. When I kick the bucket, one of my executors (Sue, Sharon or Pam) gets the thrill of going through my things and deciding what to toss. I’m betting it’s going to be a busy day for the garbage man.

cedar chest

Now don’t get me wrong; my friends can do whatever they’d like with my possessions. I won’t care if they dump sentimental items I can’t part with yet. After all, I’ll be dead, remember? But just for the fun of it, I’ll probably haunt whomever draws the short straw for that task.

Grandpa had the cedar chest carved in Thailand for Nana around 80 years ago, back when he was an importer/exporter traveling the world. I think of them whenever I open the chest and the essence of cedar escapes, filling the room with memories. That’s why I love the smell of cedar.

Nana & Grandpa

So when rain finally arrived this week, giving me an excuse to stay home, I went through the chest for the first time in years. I could easily spend a day reminiscing in there but I managed to keep it to a couple hours. After all, my to-do list awaits and one can’t dilly dally long or the list invariably grows. Continue reading

Down Memory Lane

Last week I had occasion to visit the neighborhood where I grew up in Santa Venetia, also derogatorily known as Scabo. I’m not sure what that stands for but since it’s an ugly word, I’m guessing it wasn’t known as the most desirable place to live. But I beg to differ.

Santa Venetia

Kids don’t know they don’t live in a mansion. I certainly didn’t. We had 4 bedrooms that weren’t much bigger than some large walk-in closets and closets not much wider than a refrigerator. Now don’t get me wrong; I didn’t care one bit. I had what I needed and that was enough.

our house

Our little house

To me, our Doughboy Pool was the bomb (better known as groovy back then). Other neighborhood dads helped my dad install it. That’s how it was; neighbors helping neighbors. On summer afternoons, being in that pool or playing ping pong on the patio were my favorite places to be.

me in pool

Even as a teen, still in the pool

Continue reading

A Memorable Weekend

Here’s one of the first blog posts I wrote back in 2012…

I went on an adventure this past weekend without ever leaving the house. Well, actually, it was the garage. I finally decided to delve into the stacks of old boxes filled with long-forgotten papers, dig into shelves of stored-away treasures and clean out musty cupboards…you get the idea.

I guess you could say I’m a bit of a pack rat, although I save memories, not junk (as some would say). So, with the exclusive goal of one day being able to squeeze something other than one car into a two-car garage, I threw on my sweats, some gloves, and armed myself with large green garbage bags. Then I dug in. Continue reading

In My Mind’s Eye: Remembering Dad

Here’s my annual Father’s Day post, adapted from an article I wrote in 1997 for the San Francisco Chronicle about the relationship I shared with my dad. Here’s to fathers everywhere…There’s an image I have captured in my mind. I’m in my car in front of the home my parents have shared for most of their 45 married years. Mom and Dad are standing on the front porch.

From the street, I can see the huge eucalyptus tree in their backyard, silhouetted against the evening sky. It’s gently swaying in the warm breeze while the full moon illuminates the manicured lawn. My parents are smiling and waving as I drive away after a visit.

Mom lives alone now that Dad is in an Alzheimer’s nursing facility, so that scenario has changed. But it never does in my mind. My parents always stood on the porch to wave good-bye when I left. Even in pouring rain, they still stood in the open doorway together. I always looked back and returned their waves. Continue reading

The Sweetest Gift

Mother’s Day is my annual tribute to my mom, the most important woman in my life…an exceptionally thoughtful, giving and loving person who also happened to be my best friend. How lucky was I?

My mom, Loretta Rose, with Bailey

She gave me love as well as life; so whatever goodness I may bring to Earth began with the gift of my mother’s heart…

At some point in our relationship, my mom transitioned from being my parent to also being a great friend. I’d say it happened in 1985, when she was diagnosed with incurable, inoperable  lung cancer. Continue reading