You know how sometimes a picture just pops in your head for no reason at all. You're peacefully minding your own business, watching some gruesome murder or something on TV and all of a sudden a totally unrelated picture pops into your head.
The picture that popped into my head last night was a menal "snapshot" that I frequently think about. My mother sitting at our kitchen table in San Francisco, a bowl between her knees, an apple and a knife in her hands, and a bowl of sliced apples on the table next to her. It is such a familiar sight. In fact, over the years I have taken lots of photos of my mother peeling apples for apple pies. I love thinking about that mental snapshot because it makes me remember the good times growing up.
(And as I write this, oatmeal cooking in apple cider is in the Instant pot, so I even have a smell track to accompany this memory!)
I have lots of mental snapshots which pop in from time to time and there is no rhyme or reason for them.
There is the dark room where the only thing you can see is the glowing end of my father's cigarette, a familiar sight during the years when he was going though a major depression. I think about those years and realize the importance of keeping questionable substances locked up. I was curious to find out what a sleeping pill did, so snuck one of my father's. I absolutely could NOT wake up for school the next morning. My mother never knew why but I sure never tried one of his pills again.
Another vivid mental snapshot is one Sunday morning when we were returning home from church and saw a black wreath hanging on the door of the corner grocery store. It may have been my first experience with the death of someone I knew--Angelina, the wife of Angelo, the proprietors who had been our friends for many years.
That reminds me of another death-related mental snapshot. When I was about 5 my grandmother decided to take me, God knows what ever possessed her, to the wake of a friend of hers. I was terrified being in the room with a dead person and I can still see the gardenia-draped coffin and just her nose sticking out, the only thing I could see from the back of the room. For years after, the smell of gardenias nauseated me, which was awkward because it was one of my mother's favorite flowers and my father often bought her a corsage for special events.
There is the death-related snapshot of me standing in our kitchen washing dishes and my mother telling me she thought I was old enough to know that my godmother had cancer and was going to die.
(The mental snapshots are becoming a slide show, coming faster as I write this)
My mental snapshot of my godmother, Babe Fortner (the wife of my grandmother's cousin), is her sitting in a chair in our living room, wearing a bright blue knit dress which went beautifully with her snow white hair. After she died, she had no children, so left her entire estate to my mother, which infuriated my grandmother who was counting on a big windfall from Babe's passing. She was so livid that my mother gave her the choice of which of Babe's things she wanted and one of them was the blue knit dress. It was the wrong color and wrong size for her (Babe was tall; my grandmother was sort) and she looked terrible in it, but she wore it defiantly.
Another snapshot, standing in the hall outside my senior homeroom hearing Sister Colette, who was not noted for being a "nice" person, reading the class the riot act about their lack of help with the yearbook, leaving me to do everything myself, resulting in the yearbook being published late. After that lecture, nobody gave me a hard time about it, and my opinion of Sister Colette changed considerably.
Food tests! Our kitchen had an attached laundry room with a window that faced into the kitchen. My father liked to have blind taste tests with Karen and me. He would go into the laundry room and peek through the window. We would give him the choice of two different items and he chose which one he preferred. The one I remember most was two different kinds of milk and which was the richest (we always chose the one with the most fat, a habit that has followed me throughout my life).
Another nice couple of mental images concern my cousin Peach, when I used to spend summers with her. One is sitting under the weeping willow tree in her front yard harmonizing to "You are my sunshine." The other was standing in the middle of the street, asphalt melting under our feet (it was nearly 113 degrees) while Peach braided my hair.
I have as many mental snapshots scattered around my head as I have physical photos scattered around the house.