Posted on Feb 6, 2020 in Editorial.
When she lost her husband, Doris was faced with the task of going through her belongings. To downsize a lifetime worth of moments, of memories, to move into her next phase of life.
With her daughter’s help, she rummaged through old clothes, discarded knick-knacks and household objects. She came across a box of photos, cards, and sentiments from her life with Joseph. Moments she hadn’t wanted to forget.
May 1950: I was so nervous to meet him. Rose had said Joseph was a good one, hardworking. My mother wasn’t convinced. When he came to my mother’s door, his top button was undone. I noticed right away, the dark hair that curled underneath his shirt. Mother did too. She made me promise not to go out with him again. We went on our second date the next weekend.
September 1951: I made Joseph promise he wouldn’t ruin my wedding dress with cake. He was so gentle, giving me a small bite of the vanilla frosted sponge cake. I wasn’t as careful, smashing cake all over his face. He said he’d always be here.
December 1953: When mother died, I had so many decisions to make, people to call. I had forgotten flowers for the grave. Joseph made sure Mother had flowers at the cemetery, leaving the house early to go to the florist. I saved one with her funeral card.
March 1954: My labor was long. But we were so excited to have a baby, we didn’t know if we could. I don’t remember much from the day except that Joseph couldn’t handle being in the delivery room. I know I was scared. But he was terrified. He kissed your little toes while he thought I was asleep and whispered he’d never let you down. He doesn’t know what I heard.
June 1967: Our first family road trip. The water at the beach was cold. But we were so happy. Our small family of three. We didn’t have much in those days compared to others. But we had each other. And that was the most important thing.
April 1978: Joseph had lost his job at the factory. The newest automobile didn’t sell as they hoped. We had no savings and a daughter who was getting ready to get married. This photo was taken at a family dinner. He felt he couldn’t face my family as long as we were suffering. He was worried you wouldn’t get to have your dream day.
January 1989: We welcomed our first grandchild. Our little Robbie. Joseph was so excited to finally be ‘Pop-Pop.’ He knew you weren’t sure if you wanted kids, but he was glad you did. He carried Robbie’s newborn photo in his wallet everywhere. Even after he graduated and went to college. He loved you, of course. But he was made to be a Pop-Pop.
September 1994: Joseph was so proud to walk into Robbie’s classroom on Grandparents’ Day. He wore his Sunday best, trying to impress a room full of five-year-olds was more taxing than Joseph thought it would be. But he was so thrilled. I think he always wanted a son. Robbie got to be that for him, in a way. To learn all the things his own father taught him.
September 2001: The world can be a dark place. But we were still celebrating our 50th anniversary. We were afraid to have dinner somewhere in town, so we had a picnic in the backyard with family and friends. In all the photos I have, his top button is undone.
November 2004: A group of us pulled off a surprise retirement party for Joseph. He was 72 and stubborn as ever. He didn’t want to retire, but it was time. I wanted him to be home with me, instead of spending his days at the factory, feeling sorry he had to watch the younger guys do all the things he used to.
September 2014: We never thought we’d be here to see our grandson get married. Watching Robbie say his vows brought back so many memories for us. Especially when he used our song. Getting to recreate our first dance was the most magical moment we’d have before the end.
March 2017: When Joseph got his cancer diagnosis, he was so strong. Though his hairline was already lacking, chemo really took care of the rest. Those stacked orange bottles were a blessing and a curse. I don’t know how I missed the signs. Maybe he’d still be here.
January 2020: I had to bury my best friend. Joseph promised he would never leave me. But some promises we can’t keep. Instead, I carry his funeral card with me everywhere.
All of life’s moments, the good and bad, the heartbreaking and heartwarming, are all memories we want to remember. Not only do we want to remember them, but share them with our families so long after we are gone, those memories don’t fade but rather, keep our own legacy alive.
Never forget those life moments. Preserve them today with the help of LifeTime Private Autobiography.
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