by Pat Bean
“It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.” — Barbara Kingsolver
Today, I hung all memories from the past on my wall.
The year was 1978 when I found myself single with two of my five children still left to support. It wasn’t an easy time, especially that first month when I had to borrow money to pay rent. Although there have been many difficult times since that day, as there are for all who occupy this planet, my life from this point forward only got better and better.
I spent the next 26 years finishing up a 37-year career in journalism, following it–and twice where my heart led me to go.
My career took me to the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas, for three years, then to Ogden, Utah, as features editor for the Standard-Examiner. I stayed for three years here before love took me to Las Vegas for eight months that included a stint working for the Las Vegas Sun.
When love betrayed me, I took myself away from the neon lights to Twin Falls, Idaho, where I stayed for two years as regional editor for the Times-News. It was then back to Ogden, where my former newspaper offered me a job as assistant city editor.
In 1987, I answered my heart once again and moved to Erda, Utah, and undertook a daily 56-mile commute to my job in Ogden. But in 1989, I moved back to Ogden alone, and happily stayed there until 2004, at which time I sold my home and bought my RV, Gypsy Lee.
With few exceptions, everything I owned was either packed into my 22-foot home on the road, sold or given away. The exceptions, mostly books, were eventually stored at my youngest daughter’s home here in Tucson, where I recently moved into a small apartment after almost nine years spent living on the road exploring America from sea to shining sea.
Sunday, my daughter brought me a few of those bins. And this morning, I hung the only remaining possession that remained from 1978 on the wall of my apartment.
As I stood back and looked at this simple sketch of a cardinal, which belonged to my grandmother, whom I adored and whom died when I was only ten years old, tears came into my eyes
The colored-pencil drawing, which even for a while accompanied me in my RV travels, held a lifetime of memories. It is the only thing I own that connects me to my past. As a person who prefers to look forward not backward, I have no regrets that there is nothing else.
But my heart tells me that this red bird may be the most precious thing I own today.
Pat Bean, who thinks of herself as a wondering-wanderer, is a former journalist who lived in an RV for almost nine years and recently moved into a third-floor apartment in Tucson. Her passions are writing, reading, hiking, birds, art, family and her canine companion, Pepper.