How we remember

My sister and I reading, sometime around 1960

My sister and I reading, sometime around 1960

“How we remember, what we remember and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.” Christina Baldwin

Among the countless ways my sister has blessed my life, one comes to mind often: she read to me and taught me to read.  Over fifty years later, I have wonderful memories of the hours we spent with books.  Little wonder that she grew up to be an elementary school teacher, and I became a librarian.

Almost all of us deal with a mixed bag of memories, pleasant or painful, happy or horrible.  One of the most nurturing gifts we can give ourselves is the recognition of what has gone right in our lives.  By choosing to spend our mental energy on gratitude for the good times, rather than re-hashing and resenting old grievances, we lay the foundation for living mindfully with today’s blessings foremost in our thoughts.

This does not imply denial of the truth.  Indeed, we may need to work through our negative memories with the help of a trustworthy counselor, pastor or friend.  But all of us who are here today, reading this message, are alive because there have been people who cared for us and helped us survive and grow.  Today I invite you to celebrate a beautiful memory with a few minutes of reflection, thanks or sharing.

Happy 60th birthday to my beloved sister!

Related Posts:

The Books Themselves

A Delightful Society

Strangely Enough


  1. What a beautiful tribute this is! You both look precious in your red outfits!
    Happy birthday, dear Sister!

    • Thank you! Our mother made almost all our clothes, although we rarely had matching outfits like these.

  2. Carlyle

    Beautiful writing Julia! No doubt due in part to your extensive reading.

    • Thanks Daddy. I’m sure having such a great topic to write about doesn’t hurt! 🙂 Thanks for taking this photo all those years ago.

  3. loolamay

    Beautiful, Aunt Gia! Happy Birthday, Aunt Car Car!

    • Thanks, April! I think your love of reading rivals ours.

    • I would also like to say thank you for the birthday wishes that your bloggers have sent. That is so great!! Thanks especially to April, Nancy, and Amy… very special people! Yes, “we is all old” now!

      • Carla, the great thing is how well we are all holding up despite our rapidly advancing ages! 🙂 We have all been through a lot, but so far we’ve lived to tell about it, and I thank God for that. BTW, Maggie also left a note on Facebook wishing you a Happy Birthday.

  4. Mike Bertoglio

    This also sounds Biblical and prophetic in that the prophets were always reminding people of what God had done in their lives and the God would continue to guide and support. This could be part of my Lenten practice, if I had the discipline. I could list those points where I have been saved or members of my family spared. ” God brought me out of the wilderness and lifted me out of the pit.” There have been many close calls in my life where disaster or survival hung on a knife edge. Like the time my son and his friend were caught in a rip tide and nearly drowned at Westport.

    • Thanks Mike, it is so important to recognize and give thanks for God’s continual providence. And such blessings are all too easy to forget or overlook in the busyness of life.

  5. That’s so sweet as is your photograph. You really still resemble that little girl immensely. Did your outfits often match? I didn’t grow up with a sister, I wish I had. I’ve got great brothers but we had pretty different interests. We all enjoyed a nightly bed time story read by my dad out of the world book encyclopedia’s though.

    • Thanks for your sweet comment! No, we really didn’t match too often. My mom made almost all our clothes, though. My sister and I were super close and still are. She’s almost 4 years older than me but never treated me as the pest I’m sure I often was. Don’t you just love the World Book? As a Youth Services Librarian (in the days before everything was online) I really thought it couldn’t be beat as a general resource. When I was a kid I used to read our set just for fun.

      • Lucky, lucky you. Your sister sounds like a great friend too. I used to love all the colour’s on the spine of the Children’s World Book Encyclopedia set. I liked to spend time arranging them like a rainbow or a box of crayons. Then my brothers would show up and mix them all up again. LOL It must have been fun to be a librarian, I love books and always have. Have you ever been to the Library of Congress?

        • Yes, I actually have a card to the Library of Congress, which I got years ago when we first moved to Virginia. It’s quite different from most libraries (not a very good one to go browsing in) but the resources there are immense.

  6. This is so sweet! You are lucky to have such a great sister – she taught you to read!!! Wow! You are both cute as can be in the photo – nice memory. I hope you and your sister enjoy her birthday.

    • Thank you! I sent her a link to your blog awhile back and she LOVED it!

  7. Sheila

    Julia, this was such a nice picture to share for your sister’s birthday. I see much love and adoration there. I also agree, you still look the same and very sweet! Happy Birthday to your sister……. 60th!!!! Sheila

    • Sheila, thanks so much! My sister and I are as close as ever, maybe more so. She will be reading this later and will see these greetings people have left for her, I know she will get a kick out of them!

      • Sheila

        From several days ago, you asked if my Atlanta friend ever rode the Pink Pig. She said she did and her daughter did too. She said there is a new one now at Lenox that people still ride.

        • Sheila, thanks for finding that out – it’s a uniquely Atlanta memory. I’ve never heard of a Pink Pig anywhere else. They also used to have 8 live reindeer and “Santa’s Secret Shop.” It was a wonderful place to go at Christmas! I’m glad Lenox is continuing the tradition.

  8. Happy Birthday Carla!!! And thank you Julia for such a lovely post and for always inspiring reading in me and all the members of my family. It was your sweet Matt that taught me to read a book aloud saying the title and the author. I had heard that done for older children but not for little ones and Matt always did it for my Katie when he read books on books to her. Love you.

    • Thanks Amy! Yes, we shared the picture book years with our kids, didn’t we? I missed Aaron’s turn but have enough memories of Katie for both of them :-). Matt was always very big on naming the author – he got it from Reading Rainbow! LeVar Burton is one of his lifelong heroes. Thanks for your sweet reminders. I love the way you and Stephen read aloud to each other. Thanks for being here. Love you too.

  9. Mike Bertoglio

    This practice also sounds very Biblical and prophetic in that the Prophets were always trying to get people to remember what God had done in their lives and to give thanks for God’s continuing care and guidance. Likewise we could write our personal litany of thanks- “Lord you led me through the wilderness and you brought me up from that desperate pit.” That could be part of our Lenten practice. And there have been so many close calls in my life where disaster or survival hung in the balance, like the time my son and his friend were caught in a rip tide at Wesport and nearly drowned.

  10. Nancy

    Happy Birthday, my dear college friend from sooo many years ago! HaHa! You are still older than me. My milestone is in December. Thanks for sharing Carla’s special day, Julia.

    • Thanks, Nancy. Hard to believe we are all getting so old, isn’t it?

  11. I am so very touched and honored. Thank you dear sister! Don’t you love that picture!!!

    • Carla, yes, that photo is probably my favorite one from childhood.


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