Last week in writing class we were asked to write a childhood memory. Easy enough it would seem. I kept trying to think of a funny memory, but I was a very serious small person.
The first memory that popped into my head was when I was 5 years old. We lived over Leo’s Market. It was my first American home and where I first met the rest of my American family. It was there I learned to use the English I understood but never spoke and where my sister was born. My mother essentially brought home my first child. I doted on her. Changing, feeding and entertaining her were my favorite things to do when I wasn’t at kindergarten.
I wanted background for the story. Starting a search on the internet for where we lived at the time, I’d come up empty without an exact address. You have to understand I’ve moved well over 30 times and most of the moves were before I was 30. It’s hard for me to remember all those addresses.
I went to the only person I thought might still have that information, my dad’s youngest sister. She is older than me by a year and a half. Though our communication is sporadic, she is the one family member I kept in touch with regularly. So I sent an e-mail and prayed she would read it. She isn’t fond of technology. Computers are not her friend, but she does have a cell phone. I didn’t hear from her in time to write my story for class so I had to come up with some other adventure.
My interest was still piqued and when she called me one morning I was pleasantly surprised. She told me her daughter help send a return e-mail with the address I wanted. After a long catching up chat, I finished my planting and other chores before finally getting to my laptop.
That’s when the fun really began. With the address pasted onto Google, I was able to find where her home had once been. It’s now a vacant lot. How sad that was for me. I wanted to see where my American grandparents had once lived because my young memory had not stored it well. As the Google map turned the corner, there it was! Unmistakable even in its current condition stood the two-story brick building that had once been Leo’s Market in Kansas City, Missouri. We lived upstairs on the side with a porch that often held my sister in her carriage, getting fresh air.
As my son showed me how to navigate the toggles, I got a clear view of the apartment and saved the image. Leo’s is now a bakery with writing underneath the sign in a foreign language that I cannot read. The magic that was once Leo’s Market where I could go alone and pick up things for my mother, getting free penny candy just for my smile is no longer there. Leo and his wife were kind to us in spite of our language barrier. Now I have an actual photo of an indelible memory. What a treasure that is for my sister and me!
The memory and the photo are only part of the prize. The other part was for me, the success of the hunt. When I talked to my aunt, she lamented about her lack of computer skills and stated that she was too old to learn anything new. I have heard that so often from my generation. Baby boomers have seen more changes in the world than most generations before them. We are responsible for so many of the wonderful things that have made our lives so technologically helpful. How can we be too old to learn? I learned something new yesterday and today and plan to learn something new tomorrow.
I like to ask dumb questions. I learned to use the “Paint” program while editing the photo to send to my sister so she could see where she was born. Last night my son walked me through how to copy VHS to DVD on a machine I bought. Now I can do it on my own. I have a huge box full of old family movies to get copied when I finally get my own place. I love technology almost as much as I love words. Though I still keep a handwritten journal and the notebook that lives in my bed, I truly am grateful that I can sit in my living room, find my old homestead that is a thousand miles away and write a story about it on my laptop. Can it get any better than that?
My own baby sister has ADHD and sitting at the computer trying to understand the workings is so very hard for her. I’m sure part of the problem is she doesn’t have my wonderful, geeky kids to keep her on her toes. Our mother went through computers like most kids go through shoes. Bigger, better and faster was her motto.
There are other things to be good at and not everyone needs to be computer savvy but it sure makes things interesting. Dad was only interested in the mechanical end of things. I still don’t think anyone is too old to learn something new. What’s your take on that?
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
From my heart to yours,