It seems just yesterday I was a child. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago. Where did all the years go? What remains of all those years, especially my childhood? Surely I have more than the neatly-mounted pictures stored in scrapbooks tucked away on a bookshelf! Occasionally, I visit my childhood home where I relive memories, those paper boats of my childhood that float along the waves of time, catching glimpses of my childhood allowing the fading, sepia-colored memories of my childhood to come alive.
“Go outside and play,” Mother said.
Such play didn’t involve many props but required friends and using my imagination. Hide n’ go seek, kick the can, floating paper boats in a nearby stream, and hopscotch were some of the games we played for hours on end.
At the end of the day, Dad pulled into the driveway and I rushed towards him. He picked me up with his rough, callused hands—soft with love and supple with trust.
“I love you, Sweetie,” he exclaimed, twirling me around.
“I love you, too, Daddy! ‘Airplane’ ride,” I begged.
He always obliged me, holding one hand and one foot then spinning me around until I landed, falling on the grass giddy with laughter. It was by far one of my favorite moments and one of the fondest memories I have of my dad.
After an exhausting day of play, I flung open the front door. There stood Mother in her apron patterned with butterflies and colorful robins. When I think of it, I experience a moment of serenity when I see her in that apron, arms wide, a hug just steps away. Then there’s the smell of her freshly baked cookies wafting through the air.
I gently bite my lip in anticipation thinking about the warm baked cookies upon a bright blue plate on the kitchen countertop. I stand tall on ballerina's toes desperately reaching, unable to grab even one cookie.
“Not before supper!” Mother insisted.
On top of the stove covered in a shower cap is a mixing bowl with bread dough rising to perfection. I lift the cap and peek inside. The bread has held onto the heat of its birth and has a springy softness to it when I poke it with my finger. I smile thinking about the savory smell of yeast coming from Mother’s oven and the love permeating from her kitchen. There is a glowing sense of sunlight with each bite of bread I take as if the golden light that once bathed the wheat is lighting up my belly. When I bite into the bread, the crunch evokes so many warm memories. In that moment of flavor, I can hear Mother’s voice and how she spoke, as if each word contained a spoonful of her love and laughter.
These memories ARE the remains, the paper boats of my childhood. I cherish them as much if not more than the actual photographs, and I love watching them float by.