The Halls of Memory

The truck twisted and turned down the windy backcountry road.  The road side lined with large norway and white pines with the occasional clump of birch trees adding a splash of white to an otherwise verdant landscape.

My grandfather sat behind the truck’s steering wheel and I was wedged in the cab’s small back seat.  A cab that needed to be extended an additional 3 feet in order to be comfortable, but as a young boy sitting sideways and cramped in a pickup truck was cool enough.

I remember looking at the center console of the truck and noticed one of those square packages of Halls cough drops.  The blue foil wrapper glinting in the sun made the cough drops look irresistible.  I raised my hand to my mouth and eked out a small cough.

“You okay Daniel?” my grandfather asked from the front seat.

“I think I have a cough.” I said as my grandmother sat in the passenger seat puffing away on a freshly lit cigarette.  “Do you think I could have one of those cough drops?”

My grandfather reached down to the console and picked up the package and handed them back to me.  I tore the package open and out popped a perfectly wrapped cough drop.  I unwrapped it and held it to the window for examination.

I had eaten the cherry Halls before, but never the blue ones.  The whiteness of the drop intrigued me as I slowly turned it in my chubby little hand.  I smelled the drop and then popped it into my mouth.  The nose clearing and sinus opening mentholated cough drop filled my senses.  I started to gag and wanted to throw up.  I didn’t like the blue Halls any more than the cherry ones.  They all tasted gross to me.

This ordinary moment in time has become one of my most treasured memories of my grandfather who passed away a short while after the Halls incident.  At the time it happened it was a seemingly insignificant event an event more easily forgotten than remembered, but for some reason it has been remembered and held close to my heart for all these years.

It is the ordinary in our lives that can become the extraordinary.  Moments of cleaning up the house, a conversation about life or whose turn it is to take out the trash all can become the extraordinary memories that are so cherished after someone passes.  How these seemingly insignificant and mundane events can become so cherished remains a mystery to me.  I can’t remember what I ate for dinner last night, but yet can still picture myself in that truck all those years ago.

As I write this there are dishes to do, toys to be put away and laundry to be folded.  All simple everyday tasks, chores that for most parents are simply ordinary everyday chores.  And yet as I prepare myself to complete these simple jobs I think back to that moment in time, when a simple exchange between a Grandfather and grandson forged in my brain a lasting memory.  For you see it is out of the ordinary in our lives the extraordinary happens.  Cherish every moment in life, no matter how mundane.

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