First of all, sorry for the cheesy title which harkens the schmaltzy lyrics from the title song of “The Way We Were”, a 1973 hit movie starring Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford. My wife and I were dating when that movie/song came out. I suppose I looked a lot like Robert Redford back then and I guess she was just spellbound. That story (almost believable) is for another time. I really hope the song’s not playing in your head now.
My actual misty water-color memory is from Thanksgiving fifteen years ago. Seven adults and one child made the whirlwind 10-day trip from the U.S. to Germany to England and back to Germany before returning home to the U.S. We spent Thanksgiving in London that year and had to forego our traditional turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Instead, we dined on fish and chips at a quaint pub in London. It was lovely.
Because Thanksgiving is not a holiday in the U.K., we were able to tour Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is truly awe-inspiring. This place is steeped in history, and one can’t help but imagine all of the kings and queens who have processed through that space. As an Anglophile, I could have spent days there. I’m sure for our three-year-old granddaughter Charlise it might have seemed that we had. I imagine from her perspective it was dull, but she was an angel the entire time.
The River Thames is within walking distance, so after we finally left the Abbey, we decided to walk across the Thames. I was pushing Charlise’s stroller, and I could hear her speaking very excitedly. I stopped; walked around the front of her stroller and bent down to ask her what it was that she wanted. Her response: “Look Pawpaw, water!” After spending hours in Westminster Abbey where her point of reference was everyone’s kneecaps (or rear-ends); she finally saw something that she could recognize – WATER: How beautiful. How simple. How wonderful!
Charlise and I looked at the river together and I too felt like a three-year-old. We were transfixed by the sheer beauty of the water swirling under the bridge and I realized, then and there, that ancient artifacts and significant historical places could never take the place of my granddaughter’s enthusiasm for that moment.
I’ve misplaced most of souvenirs and the photos of all the majestic and important places we toured on our trip, but the treasure that remains in my heart is the memory of the time when Charlise and I looked at the water in the Thames. It transcends time and space. And I remain grateful to have been blessed by that experience.
I have so much for which to be thankful. This year we will again have our usual feast in the comfort of our own home. We will be surrounded by all the familiar sights and sounds and smells and tastes of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The comforting embrace of the laughter, love and good food will fill my soul and new memories will be made. But sometime during the day I know that I will have a fleeting memory of water swirling under the Westminster Bridge.
And, once again, I will give thanks!
Now for a little schmaltz…