Cafe Hitch-hike


Postcard and forget-me-nots

I looked through Grandma Lina's belongings after she had her stroke in 2014. It didn't look good at all that she would survive it, but she did. Her mind and speech was just as sharp as usual afterward, but the stroke took away a lot of her physical strength. She moved slowly with a walker, but her little spark was still there. When I visited, she opened her collection of pictures and other forget-me-nots to look through.

I forgot about the postcards I had sent her. I saw one from the summer camp I attended in 1983, and then Florida in 1991. I laughed out loud when I saw the one from Germany in 1998 (there was a bit of drama behind that one). I couldn't believe she kept them all! She also had a collection of pictures of me and my siblings that I sent over the years. Since we were 1,300 miles apart, I sent her the best pictures of us that I could get our hands on, which she really appreciated.

When I looked through Uncle Joe's stuff after he died, I saw some of the postcards I sent him as well. I saw a postcard that I sent him from Terrapin Place, a restaurant owned by Phil Lesh of Dead and Company when I visited the Bay Area in 2016, and Joe was quite impressed with that! I then recalled a beautiful letter I wrote him after my victory cruise in 2013 (I got a new job at that time and a bump in pay). I never sent the letter (he was in a halfway house and I wasn't sure where to send it, but I kept it). In the letter, I described my time in Jamaica and the cruise because quite a bit of it was like a dream and it was communicated so well in the letter.

Then, there was my former classmate Benjamin's admission from last year that had me laughing for days. I then had a conversation with Rafael (not the one I dated but a former neighbor in Gulf Bluff). He described his recollections of our times there, and I would had never guessed he perceived things the way he did. I didn't know he admired my eloquence, quirkiness, and cooking. I didn't know he always looked forward for me to get to his place after work (his workday ended and began earlier than mine). He said he felt so at home whenever I was there with him and his dog, Cafu.

I just think about the little things we leave one another. Just the little postcards and pictures I left to my family pulled back so many feelings and memories, and they were only made of paper. What was attached to them gave them their power. That, and me in my kid-self was thoughtful enough to reach out to my loved ones when they were not around and send them messages, well-wishes, and yes, I love yous. Seeing those things made me remember, and also grown-up me added some new understandings about the whole thing.

Then, there were the recollections of my friends. I would had never guessed they felt that way. Maybe they didn't know at the time. Maybe it had to ferment or grow. My understanding about those times, places, and experiences only went so far, but what they told me painted a more vivid picture. And, it told me more about what I actually did bring or contribute.

I was cleaning out my things (a neverending task at my new place) and saw the things Remy left me. With his leukemia struggles and him knowing he had an expiration date, I just can't help but wonder if what he gave me was a quiet reminder: remember me, remember us. Of course, the trinkets and pictures had the effect of making my recollections so much more vivid than they would be, even to the point of getting past the usual day-by-day distractions.

They say we don't know what we have until it's gone. I don't think its exit gives us this realization. Maybe it's just the time that was needed to realize it fully (and usually when it ends is when we catch up with it).

I'm just amazed and also fascinated by the ability of something as simple as a postcard or paper product can do to anchor memories of people, places, and times.

I ponder this as I get ready... 2 more weeks until my Final Postcard Tour. I call it 'final postcard' because I want to send my Uncle Joe one more postcard for a trip that his passing (and more) made possible. This is my final postcard to tell him of my adventure, and... my postcard to remember the things we bring to each other, big and small, and in a way, how they anchor so many things together.

downwind | upstream