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Memory Making
By Jeanette Simpson


The four generations
Try our Jigsaw

In the midst of my autumn apple butter and jam making, I received the news that my daughter and granddaughters were going to visit for a long weekend. This prospect brought much excitement as we discussed which autumn activities we wanted to include in our three days together. I made arrangements for a sitter for my elderly mother for a couple of the days as the places we wanted to explore would be too strenuous for her. I cleared my calendar of other things and stocked up on Grandma treats and little surprises. You never know when you are going to make a memory for the young ones or even for yourself! I bought two tubes of miniature M&Ms, saved one for the girls to eat and used the other in some homemade M&M cookies. The empty tube, just the right size, was then filled with quarters which would be spending money for the oldest granddaughter, age four. The younger, at twenty months, hasn’t picked up on the shopping concept yet!

LaurenThe girls arrived on schedule and the new crayons, books, and other goodies came out. Lauren was excited about her stuffed palace guard doll and a bank of Buckingham Palace, which a friend of mine sent to her from London. Both girls tried on my huge tea party hat and had their pictures taken in it with much laughter and fun. The scarecrow I had made was a hit also. Jennifer, my daughter, unpacked a counted cross-stitch picture she had done and then handed it to me with some red velvet and asked me to sew a pillow for her. Lauren and I put eyes and a shawl on a gourd with crooked neck that I had bought just because it looked like a duck! After Michelle, the little one, gave me wet kisses and went to bed, I brought out the glow-in-the-dark fingernail polish I had found for Lauren. It came in a bottle shaped like a pumpkin with a face painted on it. MichelleThe whole bottle glowed in the dark with that face shining up! I painted Lauren’s nails then we went into the dark to look at them and giggled as they glowed. She then insisted I had to put some on my nails. We did two coats of the polish, which has glitter in it, then went back into the dark bedroom to giggle some more. Then it was time for her mother to put some on her nails. More giggling. Great Grandma decided she really didn’t want any glowing nail polish. It was rather frightening when I awoke during the night and saw five white things glowing near my head! And when I reached down to pull the cover up a little higher, ten glowing dots danced!

In the category of "best laid plans," we had a few mishaps the next morning. We had intended to be on the road to Nashville, Indiana, to the craft and antique shops by 9 a.m. First hitch was the sitter. Her car had lost its brakes and she could only come one of the two days scheduled as she was to have it worked on the other day. This meant a trip across town to get her before we could leave town. Then it was discovered that my mother was out of one of her medications she really needs to have, so that meant a trip to another part of town to pick that up. Finally at 10:30, in the rain, we got on the road. It rained heavily off and on as we drove on the road to Nashvilledown the two-lane, winding and hilly road, but the autumn color was just glorious at every turn – yellows, golds, oranges, reds, burgundys, amidst the greens. Homes and lawns were decorated with pumpkins and gourds, corn stalks, hay bales, bright chrysanthemums, and scarecrows. This part of the state of Indiana was full of Scottish settlers back in the early 1800s. My ancestors came here from North Carolina to claim land in 1829. We played bagpipe music in the car as we traveled. Lauren loves it! I showed my daughter the road to turn on to go to Bloomfield and Cincinnati where the Carmichael Cemetery is located. We drove past Indiana University where the Hoagy Carmichael archives are housed. The rain didn’t stop any of the shoppers in Nashville. It just misted most of the time we were outdoors so we didn’t even use our umbrellas a great deal. The shops were decorated for the season and American flags were flying everywhere. Scented candles and potpourri and seasonal music gave atmosphere to each shop. With the President’s speech in mind, that Americans should go out and live their lives and buy things to help the economy and not let the terrorists win, we did our patriotic duty and bought things! Lauren bought a baking set, a Mickey Mouse calendar, and a fizzing bath ball for her bath with her quarters. More of our Christmas shopping is done, but we had to have a few things for ourselves too! 

on the road to NashvilleThere used to be a Scottish shop in Nashville where tartan ties and imports from Scotland were sold, but I didn’t see it this time. We drove the 70 miles home in heavy rain most of the way longing to get home and have a cuppa with the Scottish shortbread made from my great-grandmother’s recipe. It takes two hours to drive that distance on curvy roads. Then the sitter had to be returned home before we fixed our tea then had barbecue for supper. Somewhere along the way Michelle had managed to lose her small Elmo doll. She was quite upset but we eventually got her interested in something else. The highlight of our evening was when Michelle, all fresh from her bath, came streaking into the living room wearing nothing but a teasing smile and yelling, "Naked booty!" (No photos available so teenage blushes will be spared.) We then spent time copying recipes from the new cookbooks each of us bought, but our eyes got heavy early. Lauren discovered that her fingernails weren’t glowing as much as she had hoped so we had to paint them again and wait for them to dry before we went to slumberland. I went to bed hoping my glowing fingernails wouldn’t scare me in the middle of the night again. They were actually fairly scary in the daytime, a grandmother with bright pink glittering polish is a little shocking!

Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, IndianaAfter a night during which strong winds and heavy rain interrupted our sleep, we awoke to grey skies, a light mist, and a gentle breeze. The sounds of Barney and Teletubbies soon filled the living room. By 9 a.m. we were ready to leave the house for the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, Indiana. Our destination was the small town of Bridgeton, the first place my mother taught school after finishing at the university. The school is no longer in use as a school, but Mom’s picture is still up on the wall with the senior class from the time she taught there. Since we had no sitter today, my mother had to go along – four generations of us in the car. Packing a wheelchair, walker, and stroller in the trunk was a tight fit, especially since we needed room for our purchases (patriotic duty again!), but we made it and began our drive. 

Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, IndianaThere was no handicap parking, just parking in a grassy but muddy field. I had to stop the car on the road and get my mother, the wheelchair and stroller, and the girls out, park the car then walk through the muddy field to join them. The craft booths filled the old buildings, including the school, and tents along the roadways and shared space with food booths offering chicken and noodles, bread pudding, Italian sausage sandwiches, Indian fry bread and tacos, fried biscuits and apple butter, apple slices with cinnamon, cinnamon rolls (what a long line!), and many more goodies, even some Chinese food. Oh, the smells wafting through the air! Of course, we had to make our way up to the covered bridge so Lauren could see it. We walked across then went down some stone steps to the edge of the water for some photos. Lauren asked if there were sharks in the water! She enjoyed collecting some autumn leaves. We toured the old mill and bought a few things there. My pink glittered fingernails were still a bit embarrassing as I handed over money for our purchases. Since the terrorist activities in New York, American flags have appeared everywhere. We saw many of them yesterday and today. The country roads on the way home were gravel roads with large puddles from the rain the past few days. Hairpin turns were numerous and dips that made our stomachs come up to our throats brought giggles and squeals of "whee" from the girls. I heard a lot of "do it again, Grandma." I recalled the days my brothers and I would tell Dad to do it again. We drove through a covered bridge on the way home so we could honk the horn and hear the echo, something my Dad always did with my brothers and I when we were children. There are 32 covered bridges in the area, 20 of them still in everyday use.

NashvilleWe arrived home in mid afternoon just in time for our cuppa and a lemon lady cookie. We took two rolls of film in to be developed in an hour then went to Steinmart to look at Christmas dresses for Lauren. She tried on four and was stuck on the purple dress, but Jennifer and I persuaded her to wait until we tried some other stores before she settled on that one. It was far too fancy; she thought she was a ballerina in it! We made a stop at a nearby cemetery where I showed my daughter the graves of her great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. After picking up our photos, we went home and appeased Lauren by fixing the spaghetti she wanted. There were toys and children’s books throughout the house, a Scooby Doo sleeping bag on the loveseat, and a quilt and pillow on the sofa. The office had suitcases and a portable crib in it. The old school desk was full of coloring books, crayons, and colored pencils. The old red chair, that belonged to Mom when she was a girl, fits just right at that desk. The dining room table was piled with Jennifer’s purchases. There were Scooby Doo and Tigger toothbrushes and Blue’s Clues toothpaste on the sink, and Winnie-the-Pooh and Elmo towels and washcloths on the shower rod. I’ve had a lot of snuggles in the past two days, heard a lot of laughter and giggles and "I love you, Grandma." There have been a couple of pathetic, "Elmo’s lost," cries. Isn’t family grand?!! Boy! am I tired!! We were all ready for bed early.

NashvilleOur final day began with all of us tired as Michelle woke up three times during the night. My! how it was raining this morning! The neighbor’s cat took refuge on our covered patio much to the delight of the girls. The tree outside was even more brilliant today than yesterday, even through the gloomy rain. Before 9 a.m. I had made some Christmas jam and Jennifer soon had bread baking in the oven. Lauren was assigned to listen for the lids to pop and seal on the jam jars, a task she took very seriously. The washer and the dishwasher ran and an Elmo video played in the living room. At least it wasn’t the "Elmo in Grouchland" movie which I saw 23 times in two weeks when I visited my daughter last year! (True!) I sewed the pillow for Jennifer with her red velvet and counted cross-stitch angel; it can be stuffed at home. With my mother settled in her favorite chair, the rest of us went shopping again with heavy rain coming and going all day. Lauren decided she just had to buy her Christmas dress, and she found a beautiful dress in her favorite purple! And, we found a replacement Elmo for Michelle. He isn’t exactly like the other one, but she was very happy to have him. Then we found some beautiful Christmas ornaments. We were home by mid afternoon.

NashvilleAll afternoon the wind picked up and the rain came heavily. This was a good afternoon to make autumn leaf placemats (see Kids Krafts page) and to talk about family history. The girls wanted sandwiches for supper so we used heart and gingerbread man cookie cutters to shape the bread then made the sandwiches. My son-in-law had a football game to broadcast in Bloomington, Indiana, so was to come for the girls when that was over. They were then to go home to Illinois. The toys were put away; the towels were in the washer; the bedclothes had been washed earlier. The road from Bloomington is a two-lane winding road, not the best conditions for driving at night, in the rain, on an unfamiliar road. When Brian arrived, he was fighting a headache, had the beginnings of a cold, and was exhausted. As we were talking, we heard the beeps on the television warning of severe weather, flash flooding, heavy rain, and potentially damaging winds this evening and overnight. Three days with my girls? How about four days with the girls?!! Out came the bedclothes with Brian on the sofa, Jennifer on the loveseat, Lauren in her Scooby Doo sleeping bag on the floor, and Michelle in her portable crib in the office. A late supper had to be fixed for Brian while the toys were coming out again. Lauren had to take her father into the dark bedroom to see her fingernails glowing in the dark. Not another day with that glitter nail polish for me though. Off it came and not a very easy task getting it off either. When I looked up at the bathroom mirror, I discovered a piece of glitter on my nose and another in my eyebrow! Where will it show up next? I tucked the bottle away in Lauren’s suitcase. (Jennifer will love me for that!)

LaurenWe heard strong winds and heavy rain again during the night, but when we awoke in the morning, it was gloomy but not raining. By the time breakfast was prepared and the car was loaded, the sun had come out. We all had tears as we said goodbye. The washer, dryer, and dishwasher became busy again.

We didn’t do a thing momentous during our time together. We laughed and loved and enjoyed. My mind goes back to special times with my own grandmothers, making jams and jellies, and my mother when she was younger and able to do crafts and go shopping easily. This time was important to my own daughter and granddaughters for just that reason. My mother is older and not in good health. There won’t always be four generations of us to spend time together, but those of us left will have this time to hold on to for years to come. We must learn all we can from our elders while they are able to tell us stories. Somewhere during these few days, memories were made – precious memories for two precious little girls – and for some adults too.


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