The days of stoop settin', sitting at a parent's or grandparent's knee, listening to the stories of their lives with the rapt attention worthy of an old radio mystery has been replaced with texts, Tweets, Facebook blasts and not sharing anything meaningful at all. OK, maybe I was a weird throwback. Maybe I'm a cynic. Maybe I'm irrelevant. Just seems that my husband's kids and grandkids are too busy or could care less about who he and I are. Not to be foiled at sharing the wonderfulness of myself, I am leaving a Treasure Trail to ... me.
The idea wisped from my mother's Roget's Thesaurus while I was scouring the pages for the perfect word. Yes, Virginia, I do still use an Antediluvian book to research. I found that Mom had pressed flowers and autumn leaves between the pages that described courage, virtue and country. I know from listening to her that she held the various meanings of these words dear. What else did Mom leave for me? Her Bartlett's Familiar Quotations revealed leaves and a candy wrapper in the pages of Sir Walter Scott, Yeats, Christina Georgina Rossetti (whoever!) and a pansy in the index pages between Black - Blendings and Blend - Bliss. It's a mystery.
I decided not to pass from this world without a trail to me. When I'm carted out and the kids and/or grandkids must deal with my stuff they will find a New York Times article on the passing of Frances Knoll Ring (friend and secretary to F. Scott Fitzgerald) and a postcard to me from Scottie Fitzgerald Smith stuck in the pages of "The Great Gatsby." I've tucked the growing number of obituaries of soul-elevating ballet dancers from the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in a book about the historic ballet company.
A friend of mine was a member of the Middle Tennessee Fighter Pilots' Association from World War II. He squired me to one of their meetings to introduce me to the surviving members. They all autographed a book to me that they wrote called "Missions Remembered." Far superior, in my opinion, to the celebrated glossy offering "The Greatest Generation" because the stories spilled out of these men first person and as fresh as the moments when they were behind the yoke. I've slipped the stories and obits of these men into "Missions Remembered." I've added remembrances of other WWII pilots whose passing is shared in print to keep my friends company.
It would be such fun to be a mouse in "the kids'" pocket to hear what they say when finding all these revealing clues - clues that are a glimpse of who the woman was who loved their father for so many decades and did her best for them even though we did not share blood.
If your progeny do sit at your feet like leaves under a noble oak to bathe in the sharing of your wisdom, you can still surprise and amuse yourself by creating a Treasure Trail to you. Find a pattern in the books you save. You are probably much more interesting than you think. Magazines and newspapers provide nuggets of interest to tuck into your books. The Sunday New York Times is a window to the world of fascinating and obscure stories. The obituary section is a treasure trove. Scan the faces in the "not-so-famous" page. Many of these regular people are pretty special and may add spice to your Treasure Trail.
Why not make a game out of the difficult task of packing up Mom/Dad? Sort of like leaving a little joke when someone needs a laugh. If you feel invisible to your family or that you were born old, this is your chance to strut your stuff. We can rediscover how interesting we are - to ourselves.
I rediscover my parents regularly. My joy and appreciation for them as people has moved past their role as my parents. I may be a parent-figure, but am still a person. I will not "go gentle into that goodnight." So what if I have been unsuccessful in revealing the "me" of me to the next generation in our family? They won't get off that easy. I'm leaving a Treasure Trail to me. With a little bit of luck, they will be old enough to appreciate the discovering. If not, well, I've had fun paving the way.
Candace Wade wrote the book "Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw." She has contributed to Horse Nation, Mature Lifestyles, Riding and Writing, The Tennessean and is a member of American Horse Publications. Candace writes political diatribe, wrote "Hillary's View" pet column and four unpublished film scripts. She learned to ride at age 46 and still rides at 59+.