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Souvenirs 9-26-2012

September 26, 2012

by Irma Schwantes
So it is time to get another Souvenirs ready for the Wednesday paper. You may know that before I began writing Souvenirs, I had written for the Daily Globe for about ten years. That was under a heading of Reminiscing, so when I switched papers I also needed to come up with a new title.

When we think of Souvenirs, we probably think of little things we bought at a shop or stand in some town or place we have visited through the years, but I feel my Souvenirs include more the memories or experiences I had through the years. We become what or who we are according to the things which may have affected our lives in some significant way, some times for good or sometimes for deeper feelings or memories.

As I look around the house, I do have an assortment of butterflies hanging on the living room wall or stuck into a vase filled with artificial flowers. I have long been fascinated by butterflies, they begin life as a worm, a caterpillar. They are kind of pretty when they crawl across a walk out side, but they are a fuzzy creature after all. Fuzzy creatures give me goose bumps. And then you might see one, hidden away in a cocoon, like maybe it is hiding from the world. And one day you may be out in the garden or raking the yard when suddenly you see a beautiful butterfly. I have often, from childhood on, fantasized about butterflies, wondering if, when we die, do we become like a butterfly? Put on a new coat or wings of gold??

The other thing I have a lot of is pictures, snapshots that is. There are about 15 large albums on the bottom shelf of my book case, and another six or 7 smaller ones with photos of the Grandchildren, on another shelf. But that's about the extent of my collections.

When I looked around I did come across a book of collections, of clippings, stories I have written or that someone else may have written which touched my heart. It's amazing what we can pile up around our homes in the name of, "I might want that sometime."

I found several stories which I had thoroughly forgotten about. There were several pages of clippings from when I lived some time ago at Centennial Apartments. One rather large clipping was a picture taken in the community room there with all the residents who lived there at the time, with a story about things or activities we did there. It made me quite sad to realize that of thirteen people in that picture, I am the only one still alive. I guess at almost 70 years old at the time, I was probably the youngest person living there. It took me some time as I reminisced across the years to recall the fun days we enjoyed. How one by one they were taken from us, how I moved to a small home which I purchased at the time...Souvenirs.

Inside the front cover of the book is a Volunteer Service Award for service to residents of Maple Lawn Nursing Nursing Home, dated May, 13, 1999. Inside the back cover I have taped a Certificate of Appreciation for Contributions in the interest of youth programs, dated May 26, 1999, from the Fulda FLA/FHA Chapter. These awards of course mean a lot more than as Souvenirs gathered over a lifetime. They are treasured Mementoes of busier days in earlier years. Of such things are cherished Souvenirs gathered into keepsakes tucked away where perhaps family will some day come across them as they reminisce.

On other pages I found more treasured keepsakes, there are greetings from The White House on the occasion of my 75th birthday, with signatures by President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, another page holds a letter received many years ago in Fridley congratulating me on a story which appeared in the Mpls Star and Tribune, which told of me being a "Mother of Eleven buys Childrens Clothing Store", featuring a photo of our family with a story about that. I guess it was news in those days. That was in 1963, when Hubert Humphrey was a United States Senator, with a hand written note; "thought you might like a copy for your scrap book". A treasured memento. The story had been featured in the Mpls paper written, by a staff writer Judy Vick.

So today I will finish with a prayer I had collected from an elder friend some years ago. I do not have any knowledge who may have written it, but I share it with gratitude.

"Growing older Gracefully"

- Lord Thou Knowest better than I that I am growing older, please keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and every occasion.

-Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want to keep a few friends till the end.

-Seal my lips on the aches and pains: they are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility to learn that others may have a better memory than I.

-Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint, some of them are so hard to live with.

-Please Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And O Lord give me the grace to tell them so... AMEN.

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