Memories Affect Time Travel

Nowak with Sister P“And one especially do we affect of two gold ingots like in each respect…” 16th Century, Christopher Marlow

An earlier post, Song of the Conquistador, mentioned my interest in time travel, so it’s not surprising that I delight in the power of scrapbooks; each time I see a photograph, I am transported to the past–a slice of time others may recall, but each scene with customized perception–no one sees things exactly the same. The memory board of my mind is littered with a warehouse of people, like a long-ago picture show.

It’s fun to find a tangible record of those memories, and when I stumbled across a yellowed newspaper article, it carried me to another day. There I am in the upper right-hand corner of the collage making crafts with my pal from the Franciscan Order, Sister Pancracia. The open book is a crumbling 1896 volume of Catholic Ceremonies, and the rosary is a relic from my mother-in-law.

Buoyed by Affection

Sister Mary Pancracia, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, OH, began life as Eleanore Okonski. After taking her vows in 1923, she taught in schools, served in hospitals, and spent ten years as a sacristan. She was also a seamstress who loved cleanliness and order, or so she said. Time travel by her memory, true or erroneous, took me on a journey to her youth. But by the time I met her, those days were long gone.

Fingers that once held needle and thread quivered through skin as transparent as spring roll rice paper, and when she held my hands I felt the tremble of the years. And yet, her heart was spry. Past cloudy eyes she would watch me… then, when no one was looking, they’d sparkle with mischief and she’d fill her pockets with bananas. Afterwards, she would curl her hand and beckon me to a private corner where we would eat them with delight.

Time Travel By Way of a Friend

To act upon something, to just do it, is to affect it, get it done. Sister Pancracia affected, or influenced my ability to live in the light of her past. Through her stories, I could see her playing with her little brother in the old Polish neighborhood near St. Hedwig’s Parish, feel the cold, cold snow, smell the buttery pierogi, hear the robins sing. All this to say, time travel is certainly possible–through a story, a picture, a friend.

So when your way is wrought with obstacles of daily routine or burdened with the weight of responsibility, book a trip to the past in the comfort of your favorite chair. Vaya con Dios! I hope your  journey is pleasant.

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