Mourning the Past

I’m taking an Insight Events 3-week course, Jacob Nordby’s Creative Un-Bootcamp, and I posted in the community the other day about an email I received from my cousin that had me all nostalgic and sad That post (below) served as the springboard for what’s been on my mind this last week:

I got an email from my cousin Lisa this morning. It was a forward of one of those “Do you remember any of these” photos – the wringer washer, the hose hairdryer, the Legg’s Eggs, the Drive-In, the table side jukebox – you know the email. My cousin’s note mentioned time that we all spent together one long ago summer day. I’ll never forget that day. We were a tight family, all of us. And it was a July day and all the cousins came over: Catherine & Bill, Lisa, Lew, Dave, and Aunt Mary, Mom, Dad, Eddie & me and my godparents Alice & Larry Wiseman. We were all hanging in the garage. Now our garage was THE party spot in the neighborhood. It was an extension of the house: carpeted, complete with a big picnic table, stereo, TV, phone and two refrigerators: one always stocked with beer and the other always with a keg. This particular July day chilled off tremendously in the evening, to the point that we had to run in to get sweaters and sweatshirts and we ended up having to close the garage door, it was so cold. But the party continued. We were all sitting around with our lawn chairs in a big circle. And the stories started. You know, those stories that get told over and over and over AND OVER but they still crack you up every time you hear them?  Then the jokes started flying. My family had a lot of great joke tellers…and believe it or not, I used to be one of them. I say used to be because I can’t remember a joke to save my life these days! And I had some really good ones too, dang it.

Anyway, we were all laughing so hard. Even harder when we’d have to explain the dirty punch lines to my Aunt Catherine, God rest her soul. Oh my God we laughed. We laughed so hard that we couldn’t breathe…that our ribs literally hurt for days afterward, we laughed so much, so hard and for so long.

God how I miss those days! The memories are bittersweet: my heart sings when I think of that day … and yet it cries. And I’m trying to figure out why it cries. Is it that I just miss those days? Is it that my family is so spread out around the country that it’s impossible nowadays to get together like that again? Is it that so many of those present that day are no longer with us? Is it that the old family house is no longer in the family? Is it that I can’t go back?

On so many days I realize that I desperately want to go back. I guess that’s a good thing, in a way. A lot of people steer clear of their pasts. In that sense I’m truly blessed. But I also find that I spend a lot of time “living in the past”…my music choice is Classic Rock; I look around my house and see a lot of 60s and 70s furniture and accessories. Yeah, I’m a retro geek. And I sometimes feel a lot of guilt because I spend an awful lot of time missing those days, and crying that I can’t go back…

Discussions within the Creative Un-bootcamp community followed and some talked about their own mourning for the past. The conversation got me thinking about how much time I spend thinking about the past. And then I had a sudden revelation: The past has been a focal point in a lot of my writing, even from back in my youth. For example, when I was in 10th grade I wrote this poem that was published in my high school yearbook:

DirtyFaces.                                                                                                                 Kool-aid stains above the lips.                                                                                     Club houses.                                                                                                           Running through fields of dandelions and corn stalks.                                         Collecting shiny stones.                                                                                             Building snowmen.                                                                                                  Digging for the prize in the Cracker Jack box.                                                         Fighting over who goes first in kickball.                                                                    Playing hide & seek.                                                                                                   Coloring books and a zillion crayons.                                                                       Where did it all go?                                                                                                     I guess being a child is like holding your breath…                                                     Eventually you have to let go. 

Then, when I was 18, I had a little gig in which I wrote freelance feature articles for the Niagara Falls Gazette. On a bittersweet New Year’s Day in 1980, I wrote a piece that went in as a Guest Column and the newspaper editors titled it “1970s Leave Legacy of Memories.”  A few excerpts follow for the sake of providing the gist of the piece. It was the last line that popped into my head the other day and made me ponder my obsession with the past:

“The ‘70s have passed us by now and we will never see these years again but the memories will indeed be longstanding throughout our lives. How can we forget? These were our years. We grew up in this decade.

…We will remember our first loves, however pleasant or painful they may have been. Our high school years will be in the corners of our minds, occasionally making vivid reappearances. The independence that came with the first car we ever owned — and all those midnight cruises.

…As we look back at the ‘70s, there will be things that never leave our memories: the Beatles breakup, Vietnam, the Kent State shootings, the Watergate scandal, Mark Spitz winning eight gold medals at the Olympics, the deaths of music icons Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and the great Elvis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Blizzard of ’77, the birth of the first test-tube baby, VCRs and pocket calculators and the Star Wars and Jaws mania… We will remember all of these but more important we will realize that the 70s belonged to our generation. Experiencing the most important phase of our life, we had encountered responsibility for the time and learned valuable lessons about people and relationships. We were forced from a juvenile dream-world into our adult reality.

…When I hear people of my generation reminisce about the ‘70s I imagine I will hear them say, “Those were the best years of my life.” It’s the arrival of a new decade, with all of us beginning to take our separate paths, looking toward the coming years with anticipation and excitement. But isn’t it sad to realize that the 70s are gone? They were our years!

…I will always remember –New Year’s Eve, 1979, five seconds before midnight—hearing myself say, “Stop the clock.”

Stop the clock. Wow. That stopped me the other day! I obviously feel a compelling connection to the past. And I keep wondering: why is my draw to the past so intense? I think an exploration of my Akashic records is in order! Now, more than ever, I’m uber-curious about my past lives.

I’ve been told about who I was in past lives by two psychics and both readings were quite uncanny. Back in the mid-80s I visited a psychic who told me that I was a writer of historical novels and I married a drunk (her words). Hmm. Why is that so notable? Well, the writer part is obvious but how interesting is it that, 20 years later, I was engaged to a recovering alcoholic/addict? (Nearly 7 years clean and sober he is today. Way to go B!)

It was kind of eerie and back then I didn’t know what to believe about past lives. But I became convinced a few years back when an Angel reader told me about another one of my lives. Apparently I was a nun –okay, that part was hard for me to align with, truth be told– and he saw the event that ended my life. I was ushering children to safety, running from a cabin into the woods, as men on horses with fire-blazing torches were riding up and starting to burn down the cabin. The reader saw me ushering the children while carrying a big dog in my arms, with other dogs following. What happened next is so me, and for anyone who knows me, you’ll see it. One of the men kicked a dog and I turned and went after him, the man. He apparently killed me as I was coming at him. (Coming at him to, I don’t know, kick his ass I guess)?

Now how me is that?! It is so me. Don’t mess with me and don’t EVER mess with my dogs!

Both readings have left me a believer. So my burning question now is: Am I drawn to my current past simply because my life was more exciting, more fun back then? Or am I consistently pining for the past because Spirit is guiding me to discover my past soul lives, to learn who I was and how I lived, and to determine what I need to work on in THIS life as a result?

I do know one thing for sure: in this life the 70s and 80s were way more fun and exciting than now!

2 thoughts on “Mourning the Past

  1. Very well said Michele!! In my life I feel the 50’s and 60’s were the best years of my life.. And as we get older I also have a tendency to think about people in my past, especially family members that are no longer with us and the great times we all had sitting around telling stories and the laughter, OH! How I miss those times with your Mom, Mary lou, Aunt Sara and uncle Ralph, and at Uncle Buzz and Aunt Ruth’s place. Good Memories. I guess it’s good to reflect on the past, but then we always to move on to the present weather its good or bad. I enjoy reading your little stories.. Love you!


  2. Oh I have the fondest memories of my times spent in Clearfield & Curwensville. Going to bed at night in that big house on Coal Hill Rd, falling asleep to the nonstop laughter of the adults playing cards and drinking beer til the wee hours of the mornings… So many memories in that house! I often wish I could go back and see that house now. Thanks for you sweet comment. I appreciate you visiting my blog! Love you!


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