Home > Family Connections, Life, Writing and Poetry > Shadowed Memories of Bygone Days

Shadowed Memories of Bygone Days


“Don’t touch that bed” must have rang out many times on that drizzly cold day back when I was so small. Mom always contended that my great-grandmother’s bed was a prized and sacrosanct object to be avoided at all costs.

I have only one memory of that great lady of the South. Mother and I were visiting. Baby brother was still “in arms,” as they said back then. I don’t recall who else was there, other than it was a woman; probably Dad’s mother or one of his sisters. The vague memory I have of our matriarch ebbs away further with each passing year.

Her meticulous home with its furnishings reflected who she was as a person. Her bedroom and the backyard are the clearest images I have of that day.

A tall sea of white bed linens fosters an itch in my palms. The sheets and coverlet look so crisp, so pure. I know that under those bedclothes are feather beds half as thick as I am tall. I can imagine well how soft these must be for sleeping because I sleep on my own, thinner, feather-bed at home. I keep my hands clasped behind my back.

Mom told me to touch nothing, and she’d positioned her Shaker chair to watch me through the bedroom door from the living room.

Narrow, multi-paned windows reach from my waist to near the ceiling, swathed in sheer white nylon curtains with their ruffles and frills; very girly. Stark walls resist the need for ornamentation that clutter rather than emphasizes. Shaker chairs in here, too, sit as if waiting for someone to occupy them while putting on socks and shoes.

In one corner a small round table exhibits a Victrola, its horn pointed toward the front window. At near eye-level for me, I can see the arm resting, waiting for the record to spin and for someone to flip the head and place it on the grooves. The crank hangs, unmoving, tempting.

I reach out to feel its smoothness and hear “Don’t touch!”

Questing hand retreats in a snap of muscle and chagrin. Too dangerous. Everything is too dangerous in this room filled with white.

Outside in the narrow backyard, new spring green is taking hold of everything in view. The back fence keeps chickens and other stock from roaming around the house. A fine mist envelopes me as I explore the cistern area, looking for early blossoms. The trees have begun to bud but remain barren to the eye.

Mom will be upset with me. Sunday shoes, wet grass, Great-grandmother’s clean floors. Not good, not good.

No lecture!

I’m the only one left who can attest to this short episode in my life. Perhaps that’s why I try to hang onto it as hard as I do. Great-grandmother died not too long after that day. My Dad’s mother and my own are both gone as well. Only I remember the day of drizzle, white linens, and a silent Victrola.

  1. February 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I have to tell you-I Love Your Writing!
    I also remember my great-grandmother’s bed. I was raised that once the beds were made, under no circumstances could we touch them, let alone sit on or lay on them.
    Your posts brought back my own memories of days long gone. Thank you so much for sharing your memories and thoughts on family. I am really enjoying your daily posts.

    • claudsy
      February 17, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Thanks so much, Denise. I’m glad that what I’ve written here could stimulate your own memories. So much of our day is spent looking at everything but episodes of the past that we tend to lose touch with it.

      Maybe that’s why we fail to learn from it most of the time. Stop by whenever you like, please. Take care and God bless.


  2. May 15, 2012 at 12:53 am

    What a wonderful image of a scrapbook memory. But I must admit, it makes me want to throw the young you up in the air to land on that white cloud of a feather bed!

    • claudsy
      May 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

      The family would have been scandalized. Great-grandma would have probably looked stern, shaken her finger at the offender, and then began the harangue. I must have been about three years old for that experience. It’s one of my very earliest and it always stumps the family when I talk about it. They can’t believe the detail that I remember from that one visit to her house. She died not long thereafter. And she was well into her nineties when she died.

      Glad you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.

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