Do you know the late Eva Cassidy? If not, then click on the link and listen for just a minute. Please? You won’t regret it.
Autumn always reminds me of Vietnam. Vietnam, you ask? Yes. When I was in grade school my father, U.S. Army Signal Corps, was deployed to Vietnam. An indelible memory of my childhood is tromping through the Minnesota woods with my siblings to gather leaves one fine autumn day. Our mission? To find the most beautiful leaves possible to send to our Dad in Saigon. Oh, the care we took. We examined leaves as closely as if we were little archaeologists on a dig sifting through Etruscan pottery sherds. A vital criterion was color, I remember, vibrant red preferred. I’ve carried this memory my entire life. So you will imagine my dismay when I mentioned it to the Parental Unit just the other day. They got a little uncomfortable, I could tell, and then confessed the unthinkable: neither of them has the faintest recollection of this ever happening. What?!? They looked at each other sheepishly and started laughing. They don’t doubt me — my mother has called me “The Elephant” for years as a nod to my memory — but neither recalls leaf number one.
Do you think one of the clearest memories of my childhood is a mere sham? Did Mom usher us outside to gather leaves as a clever device to have a bit of peace and quiet? And then toss the carefully curated leaves into the trash when we were asleep? Surely not. I suspect that the events kids find most momentous barely register as a blip in the day-to-day life of a busy adult. I’m choosing to believe the leaves made their way to Saigon where my dad opened the envelope with delight and pinned the colorful contents to his wall as a reminder of his kids. And also making a solemn vow not to share any other childhood memories with my parents. Sheesh, the elephant simply cannot bear another shock to the system. And thanks for reading! Barbara