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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tapestry of Memory

Potter Place

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead, and some are living
In my life, I loved them all...
John Lennon & Paul McCartney (“In My Life”)

This year, on Christmas Eve, my sons and daughter-in-law came to my house for dinner. Afterward, like all families, we sat and reminisced about old times. I'll bet you did, too. It seems to be a holiday tradition. This year, we traveled back to a house called Potter Place on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. It belongs to my former husband's family, and has been their gathering place for almost seven decades. It's a big old, three-story sea Captain's house, built at the turn of the 20th century. It is covered from ground to roof in cedar shakes, and has a wrap around porch complete with wicker rocking chairs.

In my life, Potter Place was often the scene of complicated and painful interactions. Scenic, beautiful, windswept, but fraught with family turmoil and trouble. I have wonderful memories of picking wild blackberries the size of my little finger along dusty, dirt roads. And, pulling mussels off slippery rocks at low tide to steam in Vermouth for dinner. I recall getting lost in an enormous boxwood maze and finally finding my way out half a mile down road from where I'd started. Wild waves, nor'easters, fields of wild flowers, the Milky Way, great white sharks, sailboat regattas, and privet hedges covered with Monarch butterflies. Also, terrible family feuds and misery. I'll bet you have places like that in your memory banks, too.

The nice thing about the passage of time, and the increase in maturity, is that all the good and bad memories wrapped together become like vintage furniture—smooth edges, nice patina, valuable because of their age and style. We remember them with fondness; they end up as a good story, a tapestry of many colors. How boring it would be if Block Island had been like Club Med—just beautiful, nothing more. Would I even remember it?

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know I'll often stop and think about them,
In my life, I love you more...” (Beatles)

We all have memories, both good and not-so-good, because we are all weaving those tapestries. We need all the varied threads—the dark ones, as well as the light and bright ones—to make it rich and beautiful. Learning to love the depth of our experience takes time and willingness, but eventually, we get there. It's good to be here, now, and at peace.

                                                              In the Spirit,

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