Magnetic Personality

My dad stood in the kitchen as he watched Mom concentrating on the refrigerator door. “Mary,” he said quietly, “If you put one more magnet on that refrigerator, the door will be so heavy, it’ll fall off!” My said, “Guess I do have quite a collection, don’t I?” “Frank”. Do you remember when I bought this one?” As he stepped forward to have a better look, Mom pulled it small magnet off the refrigerator and handed it to him. It looked like a miniature egg beater. “I bought this right after Margaret was married. Remember?” She took it from him and sighing deeply continued, “We visited her new home and stopped for gasoline on the way. I saw this and decided it would make the perfect piece of memorabilia. We were so proud of her. Young, pretty, smart, a good husband and a new home!” Dad stood mesmerized as he recalled that trip. “Maryland” came from the first time they visited my younger sister after she moved down south with her new husband. “Montauk” brought back the memories of their first vacation alone after their children married and moved away. She never removed the next one, just pointed to it. In a voice that almost sounded like a whisper, Mom said, “I’m sure this will break if I try to remove it but look. It reminds me of the day, Margaret visited and announced she was pregnant.” “Our first grandchild! What a memory! I can’t begin to explain how thrilled I was. Remember, Frank?” She looked at him through misty eyes. “After Margaret and her husband left, you drove me to the store so I could buy some wool. I was so excited to begin knitting a hat with the matching sweater and carriage blanket. When I approached the cashier, I saw this cute little plastic baby bottle and knew it needed a new home – on my refrigerator!” Dad remembered and he, too sighed. “So long ago, Mary and yet, it seems like yesterday. How old is Ken now anyway? 19?” “Oh my, Frank, no!” she said as she smiled and gently and affectionately stroked his arm. “He’s all grown up now, He’s almost 24 and our little girl will be 45 in a few months.” Dad, in a bit of shock, grabbed the back of the nearest chair and wanted very much to sit down – yet the magnets pulled at him as if he were a piece of metal. “Go on,” he encouraged Mom while trying to pull himself together remembering that he was 45 years old when his first grandson was born. Mom remembered the reason she bought each one. For instance, the tiny telephone. It was about 2-inches high and one inch wide. It was hard molded plastic, but if you picked up the handpiece and pressed its, the device emitted a sound replicating the ringing of an old-fashioned telephone. Mom said she got that from the 5 & 10 cent store during its last days of business. The magnet held her eyes as she looked back in time. “Remember how we would walk down the avenue and I’d stop in for some material to make the clothes for the children?” He remembered. He also remembered, that it was in that store, that old five and dime, where they bought their first full set of dishes – one piece at a time! That store closed their doors for the last time back in 1968, but Mom still has her magnet. “Do you remember this one?” she asked in a brighter tone of voice as she took it off the refrigerator. It looked like a small snail shell – no marking and faded with time. Taking it from her for a stronger and closer look while trying to peek inside, Dad saw what looked like dried grass. Then he remembered. “Yes, I sure do!” he said triumphantly. It was indeed a small snail shell which brought back a flood of memories. Mom was sure his smile spread from ear to ear. “You bought it during our first family vacation at Virginia Beach. We rented a large beachfront house for a week and invited Margaret and MJ and their families. We had such fun and the grandkids loved being so close to the water.” It took a while, but one by one they recalled each memory. Years past and with each one, dad became more observant with the arrival of a new magnet - sometimes more than one. Secretly, he wrote down the occasion associated with each one so that when the memories began to fail, he’d be able to relate the reasoning mind them all. Mom and Dad are gone now but the memories linger on more than just pictures in some old photo album that eventually gets stuck up in an attic. Through her declining years, her visits to shops for magnets slowed considerably but every now and then, while out with a friend or relative, she’d find one and insist it needed a new home -hers! And no, the door never felt off mom’s refrigerator, but through the years, Mom had had to rearrange the magnets to make room for more. In fact, during the course of her lifetime, she even had to begin placing some on the side of the refrigerator. While these many magnets may never carry a business logo or an easy to find phone number, they sure do tell a story- a great story that will never change with time - the story of Mom’s life.

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