Which Memories are Really Unforgetable?

Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

When all you are left with is a handful of pictures -

We dream of the trip we would take, if only we could.

Then a chance comes along, a once in a lifetime opportunity, and before we know it we're standing on the Acropolis of Athens or at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or looking across the Aegean from the top of Santorini. How did we ever get here?

Then, like changing the channel on a television set, we're back home, and all we have are our memories, some pictures, and a couple of souvenirs. But the memories. Those are, as the commercial says, priceless.

A few years go by. Other trips happen. New memories are built on top of the old ones. And pretty soon you find them running together. Now, what year was it that we went on the cruise? Oh, yes, the year before the grand baby was born. And where did we get that cut glass punchbowl? On the shopping trip in Germany when we went to Oktoberfest. Your once in a lifetime memories start to meld into one, long, continuous one.

But there are some scenes that play out in your mind from time to time just as clearly as the day they actually happened. Mine will never be the same as yours or anybody else's. My husband's scenes probably come the closest to being like mine since he was with me on most, if not all, of those travels. I've done hubs on places I've been and others on places I'd like to go. I'd love to hear from fellow hubbers on the kinds of mental scenes I'm writing about today: those moments in time you replay in your memory over and over and over again.

On a Good Friday sometime in the 1980s my Mother, my sister and I walked into the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. It was mid afternoon and crowded. The congregation was reciting something in French. The three of us stood in the back about three persons deep behind the last row of pews. Not speaking French, we simply listened. After a few seconds, my sister whispered to me, "Do you know what they are saying?" I shook my head no. "The Lord's Prayer. I can tell by the timing, and I recognize some of the words."

In that instant the three of us went from listening just to meaningless noise to hearing the words, and feeling the emotions, and experiencing the significance of the Our Father. I've been through about thirty more Good Fridays since that one. But that one, that moment, I remember like I can still smell the musty rising walls and still see the glow of a thousand candles.

We had arrived in Paris late the night before. The bus ride from Frankfurt had taken all day. We checked into our tiny, little hotel on a tiny, little avenue within walking distance of the Arch de Triomphe. It was almost midnight but we couldn't sit still. We threw our bags into our rooms, locked the doors, and headed towards the lights.

Crossing a six-laned roundabout to get to the concrete island in the center, we took our lives in our hands to stand at a point where we could see, simultaneously by turning in a circle, the Tour Effiel, the Arch de Triomphe and the full length (or so it appeared) of the Champs Elysee. To say the least - Wow.

When we had taken in all we could hold, we started back across the six-lanes of roadway. At that instant, some light some where changed to green, opening the floodgates of traffic to rain down on us stranded in the middle of the street. My sister bolted to the nearest curb. I grabbed the hand of my Mother, who must have been then about the age I am now (which terrifies me even as I type) and began to dodge what seemed like an endless supply of Mercedes taxi cabs coming at us from every direction at once. The only thought I had in my head at that moment was this: Don't hit me! I still have credit left to use on my BankAmericard!

While stationed in Germany when my husband was still a young Army officer, we blew a month's pay and took a trip to Greece. We figured it would be the only chance we'd ever get, after all, we were already thirty years old.

We took an Athens By Night tour the first night. The next night we went looking for a place where we could get the same fabulous food, music, and Greek dancing we'd enjoyed the night before. We couldn't find anything even close. Finally a doorman at a restaurant told us those places were only opened on special nights for tourists.

We took a city bus all the way out to the coast closest to Turkey to see the Temple of Poseidon. After the Parthenon and the Acropolis, it was just as impressive architecturally, but this time, the structure was sitting on the point of a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the sea. These are all great memories, but none of them are the scene I keep replaying in my mind's eye all these years later.

We took a three day cruise to a Greek Island. We thought the boat was pretty spacious when we first boarded. Its capacity appeared to be about 100 passengers. By the time the crew finished boarding all the passengers, we were body-to-body with about 500 of our closest, mostly German middle-aged, friends on the boat. It set sail with us wondering how it managed to stay afloat under all the weight of so many people.

The first day of the cruise was all about stopping at small islands where there was nothing to do but peruse gift shops full of tourist junk. Anybody who has traveled to any extent can testify to this fact: tourist junk is tourist junk anywhere in the world. But at the end of the day, the ship deposited us on the island where we were to spend the night. The hotel catered to those German tourists who made up the majority of our fellow cruisers. They served the Greek equivalent of German food that didn't do either culture justice. We headed out to find a local cafe and find some of the fabulous dishes we'd already fallen in love with in Athens.

After a successful search for dinner, we headed back to the hotel to call it a night. On the way we wandered onto a spot where the view froze us in place. The sun was setting over the water and a single fishing boat was caught in silhouette as the blaze of light melted into the horizon. The branches of the palm trees we were standing under framed the entire scene.

That is the portrait I still see. The pictures we took on that trip are lost in the depths of one of our photo albums somewhere in our basement, or attic, or the back of one of our closets.

But those few moments are the magic that is indelible in my mind's eye. Always will be.




Ebooks and Paperbacks

More by this Author


Comments 24 comments

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Kath - Awesome writing. It's hard to believe that there are people who haven't been 25 miles from home. The world is a marvelous place and I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to see it. Though there are places I could have missed and didn't. Orders are orders.

The Frog


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Prince. We went some great places on Uncle Sam's dime: Fort Lewis, WA, Germany, Saudi. My soldier and I would look at each other and say, This is the Army that could have sent us to Ft. Polk, LA.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

What a beautiful essay - you truly captured the things memories are made of. Thanks for reminding us of what lasts forever. Voted up and beautiful.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Marcy: Thank you so much. Do you have a favorite "scene"?


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

I have a ton of them - your hub reminded me to get out a few of them and dust them off. Like the time my church youth group was hiking through the hills and we spontaneously broke into song. All of us were in choirs, so we sang in perfect chords and harmonized without even thinking. We didn't realize other bikers could hear our young voices caroling through the hills and trees. When we got back to home base, all the other hikers were waiting for us to thank us for what they'd experienced while listening. We had no idea there was an audience.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

This is what I'm talking about! What a moment. Reminds me of being at the Colleville Cemetery at Omaha Beach in France. A group of senior Americans spontaneously sang America The Beautiful. I'll never forget.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

What can I say as one traveler to another. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

I didn't know you had been to Sounion, the temple of Poseidon. I have never met or known anybody else who has seen it. I was only 12 when we were there, but I nver forgot and you described it perfectly, in all its majestic isolation on the edge of the sea.

SHARING


Rusti Mccollum profile image

Rusti Mccollum 4 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

We love travel.In dec after 30 years my husband and I are renewing our vows on a cruise this dec. I loved your hub.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Rusti: Welcome to my hubs and congratulations on your anniversary! Hope you write for us all about your trip. Enjoy!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

phdast7 - topic for next breakfast?


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

History conference this Fri/Sat. The following Friday - Breakfast and discussion of Sounion and other places, European. :)


adjkp25 profile image

adjkp25 4 years ago from Northern California

For us anything that we do as a family counts as a memory. Kids do grow up so fast that we have realized our family outings are really what are important to us.

We did a trip to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam over a year ago and we are planning on taking the kids back east to see New York and DC. With them getting older we don't think that they are going to want to go to places with Mom and Dad much longer.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

adjkp25: You are so right about enjoying the kids before they flee the nest. I'm an empty nester myself and I'm only grateful I didn't waste the time with them. Now they are great adults and I cherish whatever time they can spare for me.


FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

Fantastic writing...keep it up!!!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks. I've been in a writing funk this week and was just about to start a new hub and needed a shove in the right direction. You provided it!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Roger that.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

I expected to spend my retirement years traveling, seeing all the places I missed during my too-busy career years. I couldn't foresee that my body would let me down, even while my mind and heart stayed sound, making travel too difficult. (Or, that my longtime employer would chop my pension in half--legally, if not ethically--so that travel dollars would be scarce anyway, even if I were still as physically active as way back when.)

But I love to read, and in reading such delightful essays as yours I lose myself in your descriptions and vicariously share those moments abroad with you. Armchair travels may not have the immediacy of the 'real thing', but they're still enjoyable.

Voted Up++++

Jaye


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jaye: I'm so glad you enjoyed this one. Memories like these are why you travel, but like you, these days may be behind me. Who knew we'd be in our present circumstances at this age. Not what was expected.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Splendid hub. Delighted to know others have memories lock in their minds that photos can never reproduce. 911 digging rocks in a garden in Ireland with my friend. Returning home through LAX and there was nobody there. My family grabbing hold of me and refusing to let go. Voted up, useful, and beautiful. Happy Independence's Day


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

tirelesstraveler: Must ask: where do you live in California? I could have included the beautiful northern California coastline, Mt. Shasta, and many others from that amazing place.

Thanks for the contributions to this hub. Happy Independence Day to you as well.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

We are about 45 miles south east of San Francisco.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I'm sure it's beautiful!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 17 months ago from the short journey

Such a neat read. I've been a few places…the Mojave, Denali, a long beautiful drive to what seemed like the top of the world in Sept Iles, Quebec, for instance. Met lovely people, seen stunning sites, but you are right. Nothing compares to those surprising moments that can't be captured photographically. A for instance on that note is the first time our first granddaughter came to our house after a long flight from her home in Alaska. We had spruced up her aunt's babyhood rocking chair (one her own father had also used) and had it waiting on her beside Grandpapa's chair. Late at night she toddled into the the front door and stopped at the living room door to survey this new place. As her eyes roved the room they fixed on the little rocker. Her tiny hands went out and up, then she turned her bright with wonder blue eyes to me. In the sweetest baby tones of awe she said, "For me?" A melted smile told her all she needed to know and she went straight to it. Part of me wishes I had the moment on video, and part of me is glad that I hold it in my heart.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 17 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

A photo surely couldn't improve on that moment now indelibly printed on your heart. What a precious memory. I hope when she is older you share that moment with her. She'll cherish it.

Thanks for taking the time to contribute to this hub. You've made it better.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working