ARTICLE

The memories we make that we never actually had

?Lola has something for you,? Mom said during one of our daily chats. ?Actually, she told me last school year that she had something for you.?


She had forgotten. Mom is known for two things, being a blubber-butt and her forgetfulness, not that she?d remember that.


I wondered and wondered what Lola could have for me. Lola was the remaining half of Bud and Lola. They had owned the local ice cream shop when I was growing up. It was far enough south of Wayland (Missouri) that I couldn?t go every day, but close enough that Dad was always quick to suggest an evening bike ride to grab an ice cream cone on summer evenings. For the life of me, I still cannot recall what it was actually called, it was always just ?Bud and Lola?s? to me; that and I fear I?ve inherited my mother?s forgetfulness gene.


Lola use to sneak extra cookie-dough into my flurries and my lemon ice cream cones were always on the house; it was the sprinkles that were a bit pricey ? a peck on the cheek for Bud.


However, it wasn?t the sweet treats that made Lola and her late husband special to me, it was how sweet, attentive and caring they were towards me. They were my surrogate grandparents.


My Grandma Spory passed soon after my birth. A few years later my grandpa ceased contact with Dad and I. But it was okay, because I had my Gram and Grandpa (my mom?s parents) and I had people like Bud and Lola who always reminded me how special and loved I was.


Lola and Grandma Spory were best friends and she always made a point to remind me how proud of me she would have been. She made sure that, even though I didn?t remember her, I still had memories of her.


?It?s in the living room,? Mom said, practically bouncing in front of my still moving car. I had driven home to see just what Lola could have kept tucked away for me for at least a year.


I walked into my childhood home, which still smelled like vanilla and lumber. Dad was in his leather recliner, but he wasn?t lounging about. Instead, he was perched on the edge of the seat, much like a child ready to pounce on Christmas morning.


?It?s exactly how I remember it,? he said, his eyes full of wonder and maybe a tear or two.


In the middle of the cream colored carpet was this box, which structurally reminded me of a barn, with legs sprouting out beneath it. It sat about thigh high and at one point had been painted a bright emerald green.


?It belonged to my grandma Howard,? Dad said.


?What is it,? I asked, running my hand over the double-hinged top of the box.


It was a sewing box. It had sat next to my great-grandmother?s chair and then my grandmother?s. Soon after my grandma passed, my grandpa remarried. They were having a garage sale so Bud and Lola had stopped by. The sewing box was one of many items that had belonged to my grandma that had a sticker on it.


Mom had recited the conversation she had with Lola when she picked up my treat. Bud had been insistent that they buy the sewing box. Not because my grandma had been a wonderful seamstress and it was one of the many areas the best friends had bonded, but because he wanted to make sure I had a tangible item to remember her by. So Lola saved it for me, for all these years.


The box itself could be considered a treasure chest. Its contents include dozens upon dozens of wooden spools of thread, in every color imaginable. There are buttons scattered this way and that, and some still in their original packaging. In the nearly three decades since Grandma would have last opened it, the button package has yellowed, but the packaging stamp is still clear as day, ?made in occupied Japan.? Inside there is also the original manual for a 1905 Singer sewing machine.


But as interesting and special as these items are, it?s the fact that these are all things my grandma touched. My fingers are unspooling the same thread as Grandma did; my hands are holding the same pattern sheet as she did.


And once again, Bud and Lola have helped me create a memory of my grandma without even knowing her.