Memory Connections: Mirrors to the Past

29 Jun

George Bernard Shaw wrote, “You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” I asked the writers of the Memory Connections class at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church to tell me about where and what they were from, to interpret paintings by Claude Monet, and to share those things they love and the things that make the world wonderful for them. In doing so, it was as if I were asking them to look into the mirror of the past and share their “reflections.” What they created with these works of art, however, are most definitely glimpses of their souls.

Tracey Lander-Garrett
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Another Day

—Inspired by Claude Monet’s painting “The Road in Vetheuil in Winter”


Greenery, snow slowly melts
Those who go outside are in garb
With the spring coming
Mountain rivers are coming down
Cold water in the streams
Families will start their daily chores.

Sigrid Clift

I Am From


I am from a loving family with significant ties to Waco, Texas, Baptist religion, Baylor University, and conservative (Republican) politics. I was very privileged with financial support, educational support, and opportunities not given to many.

All these wonderful things came with strings attached. I was expected to behave according to strict rules and to accept religious doctrines without question.

After many journeys, I left the Baptist Church and aligned with the Democratic party. My parents were not pleased, but loved me anyway.

Bottom line: Love trumps politics and creeds. I try to follow this in my daily life. (“Sermonette for the day.”) I am my mother’s son.

Walter Boyd Spencer

To Set Sail or Not

—Inspired by Claude Monet’s painting “Entretat Rough Sea”


I love the water. I love to sail!
And I love sailing in rough seas.
I think the boatmen are contemplating the rough sea
to decide whether to set sail or not. I would say no
the practiced, adult side of me would explain all the dangers
of going out into an obviously angry storm. However,
the romantic sailor in me would say, “Go for it!”
The adventure is worth the risk!
You will be so proud if you make it back to shore!
And think of the stories you will tell your children!
And the lesson you could teach them!
And the ones you should have taught them!
… If you get to see them again!

Carol Yacono

How I Enjoy Gardening


How I enjoy gardening! Each spring, I plant my favorite seeds. These will germinate and grow into beautiful vegetables. In only a few months, there will be fresh vegetables growing in the bed behind our garage.

I will use my red wheelbarrow to start the process. First, I will till the soil in my bed, surrounded by a border of interesting pieces of limestone. Then I will add the rich moisture of humus and sprinkle with water daily.

Lastly, I plant the seeds for celery, lettuce, tomatoes. This bed is behind our garage and very easy to reach. What I now do is watch daily, water judiciously. Now I see sprouts. How lovely.

Susan Warren

Ode to a Banana


I love the soft banana skin protecting
its tasty fruited and succulent fare.
it’s the taste of nourishment of a golden fruit
on picnics on the beach or hillsides at sundown.
I enjoy the fruit most often on road trips
in a basket filled with picnic fruits and a light wine
plus the gentle companionship of my wife
and friends on a nearby hillside.

Dan Odom

I Am From


I am from Ironton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Waco, Texas; Middletown, Ohio; and Austin, Texas. I’m from a radio tuned to WLW Cincinnati. I am from clothes on the line and coal bins. I am from the two-story house at the top of a long hill, a large oak tree in the front yard and many friends and playmates. I am from a home that often smelled of wonderful food. I am from the screened in porch. I’m from a performing family, one professional (father), the rest of us rank amateurs. I’m from Ann, my sister. I’m from family foods as they were prepared in the South. I’m from “Only honesty is the correct way to live.” I’m from a Southern father and a Yankee mother. From kale and fried chicken. I’m from my father, a radio performer, who wrote a script each day for tomorrow’s show.

Lee Bland

I Am From


I am from Houston, where I lived the longest, at least fifty years. Before that, I was from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and before that Chicago, and before that Waukegan, Illinois.

I’m from being born in a home with a basement.

Waukegan was a memorable place to be from. My 65th high school reunion is coming up.

Many friends are contacting me. It’s fun to go back in time to relive one’s youth. Ice trucks, coal deliveries, tarring the streets, riding streetcars, then buses.

I’m from smelling lilacs and eating apples and plums direct from the trees. I’m from playing hopscotch, Red Rovers, Russia, jumping rope. The coloring of maple trees, the bark of birch trees, snow with sleds and skates. I’m from igloos made in the backyard and burying treasure.

Betty Oertel

Wonderful World


The things that make the world wonderful for me are my three children, my seven grandchildren, and my ten siblings and their families and my friends. We are a large Irish family so the shades of green and heather fill the days, from childhood to adulthood to life as a 75-year-old today. There has always been laughter and love shared over meals and numerous celebrations of life and death. Showing love in all places, being there for one another, helping, supporting, loving no matter what. Sharing daily ups and downs of a life lived with love, patience, and kindness. Always asking, “What can I do for you?” and then doing for them with a smile on my lips and a glint in my eye.

Patricia Kilbane


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