The past few weeks have been a study in time.
It began by visiting a convalescent home where an elder family member is recovering from a fractured pelvis (dang icy sidewalks!). In this rehab unit, the folks are primarily senior citizens, but as we all know, that group varies wildly. Some are spry and merely temporarily sidelined by their ailments. Others are pretty…old.
As I walked down the hallway when I visited, I quietly glanced in the rooms that I passed. Most were rather sterile without many personal belongings. A few cards here and there, maybe a plant or a blanket from home. There was one woman’s room, though, that was tricked out-so to speak. A pale yellow, flowered quilt and pillows were on her hospital bed, covering the industrial metal mechanics below and the safety bars on the side. There was a bicycle-like wooden basket on her walker (clever). Also on her wall, were personal photos in ornate frames. The photos were sepia-ish and hand- colored, which instantly dated them. Three 8 x 10s formed a triangle-like arrangement on the wall and dried Palms from some long-ago Palm Sunday mass hung in the middle. Her own little altar of those things treasured. The photos, though, spoke of days gone by…of a young couple, of a young woman.
My eyes, in the short time while I meandered by the room, zipped and glanced from the old woman in the chair watching TV to the youthful woman in the photo. I had to assume that she was at least one of the women in the frames. Glance, glance, back and forth. I tried to see the young woman in the older woman. Seeing the old next to the youthful was like somehow freezing a before-and-after on the same page of life. So eye-opening.
When I look at the elderly-and I’m talking about the really elderly-I can’t help but try to imagine their earlier years. When they were active and energetic. When they had (hopefully) vibrant love lives. When they threw parties, when they hosted holidays, when they were fabulously in love and showering their loved one with long, sweet kisses.
Fast forward several days, as I sat in the auditorium of our town high school. It was orientation night for the new class that will be entering in the fall. My daughter, my baby, the little bundle who appeared on a cold winter day thirteen years ago and bestowed upon me the title of “Mom”-she’s hitting the big time and ambling off to high school. Shall I cry? Shall I whoop with joy? Shall I hyperventilate? A little of each, thank you very much. The really bizarre part was that I could see myself in those high schoolers up there on the stage, as they presented the many activities and clubs to the soon-to-be class. I distinctly remember that feeling of being a senior in high school and feeling like you just had it all figured out and well, you also ruled the school. The petrification of wondering if I could ever remember my locker combination freshman year was also a rather distinct memory. I might also add that it feel like that long ago.
So I tell you, between the elderly rehab unit and the high school, I almost didn’t know if I were coming or going. The solution to that, I thought, was to somehow capture time and our family did just that. We made a time capsule.
As I have mentioned before, our home is undergoing a renovation at the moment and all along, I have hoped that we would find some unique things from families past as we tore apart the walls and the floors. “The Haul” so far is a skeleton key (which bizarrely enough, after being found under two layers of floor, unlocks the old door locks to our bedrooms), some old window weights, a box of chandelier crystals and wallpaper papered on the inside of a few walls (go figure). No money, no stock certificates, no missing Declaration of Independence. And nothing particularly personal.
We were going to leave something, though, for some family in the future to find. As our beautiful new space is just being built, it breaks my heart to think of it someday being changed or even taken down. But it will. Change happens. At least this way, there will be a little present for the person who makes that change happen.
Our time capsule included: The New York Times with the cover story of this year’s winter Olympics, an issue of The Economist, and issue of Entertainment Weekly (the Oscar issue), a toy “Minion” (still in the packaging. Maybe it will be worth something-ha), a bag of Rainbow Loom bands and a Rainbow Loom bracelet, an old iPod shuffle, a movie ticket stub and Stop and Shop circular (to see how “cheap” everything was back “then”), a photo of our family taken at Christmas and a letter from us telling a little bit about the history of the house as we know it to be. And, my favorite, a photo of our home from one of the previous owners taken the year when they moved in, in 1951.
The box was sealed and is now residing in new ceiling of our new kitchen. Newly right over our heads.
So I suppose, when time seems to be moving too quickly, freeze it any way you can. Whether for your enjoyment or for someone else’s, you have captured a moment in time. You did it.
Just be sure to include a toy Minion.