A few years back I decided to make a Memory Jar for Mama's Christmas present. My original idea was to fill the jar with my memories of her. I decided to reach out to my sister and brothers to ask if they would like to contribute their memories to the jar.
We ended up with over 200 memories; mostly of our childhood. All written on strips of card stock paper. On Christmas Day, we sat around the table with her as she pulled out and read one memory after another; prompting additional memories we had forgotten.
- Remember one Thanksgiving when "sister 1" washed the dishes in a big pan she thought was full of dishwater and it was actually homemade ice cream mix?
- Remember when "brother 3" got in trouble for playing in the banana plants at school and "teacher x" took him to the office? He told "teacher x" that you were going to slap her face!
- Remember when "brother 2" wouldn't eat Granny's toast because it didn't smell like yours?
- Remember the "spit baths" you gave us on the trips to Mississippi to visit grandparents?
- Remember when "brother 3" swallowed the tadpole when he drank what he thought was a glass of water?
- Remember when "brother 2" put goat pills in his ice cream?
- Remember when "sister 1" stuffed baby "brother 1" between the mattress and the bed rails and when asked how he got there, she told you the fan blew him over there?
- Remember when "brother 3" chased everyone around the yard with the dead skunk?
- Remember when "sister 2" uttered her first full sentence when she stumped her toe on a big rock used as a door stop and asked, "who put that damn rock there?"
It was the perfect gift for Mama at the perfect time.
We had no way of knowing that only a year later, her memories would begin to fade with the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. The sitters told me that she kept the jar beside her and would often reach in and read a few memories. Sometimes her expressions showed a bit of confusion. Other times, she simply smiled.
The Memory Jar resides with me now and has a prominent place in my home.
Looking back, I realize that The Memory Jar was not only a perfect gift for Mama, it was a perfect gift for all of us.
Cross-Posted from Photos and Footnotes