By Amanda Griffin Jacob
I’ve always been a sentimental person who likes to reminisce. It is why I always print my photos, frame them, or make photo books. Why I return to places from my younger days. Or cook meals that evoke memories of days past. This has been amplified even more so since the passing of my father. I often daydream of times when he was still alive and get lost in those moments. I recently read that revisiting your past can be good for you because these reveries help improve your mood and mental health.
This summer is the first time I’ve been back to England (where he was from) since he left us. Many items that I planned for our itinerary were for the sole purpose of reliving some of my most treasured childhood times with him and my grandparents. I went back to places that I haven’t been to since I was a teenager. I ate meals at restaurants I knew would be the same. I even took my family to visit my grandparents’ old home where the bulk of my youth was spent during my annual British summers. I needed to show my children where I grew up and how grateful I feel to have these incredibly special memories. I also want my kids to have a few similar anecdotes from their childhood as mine. It’s so important to me that they have a relationship with this side of their heritage. It’s my way of keeping my father alive, for them and for me. When I feel connected to my past, I feel closer to my dad. Almost as if he is still around.
England to me has never been London. I never lived there, I’ve only visited. For me, England is the suburbs where I was born and raised. It’s where my grandparents and aunt lived. For me, it’s Maidenhead and Marlow, Cambridge and Devon. Here’s a snippet of my childhood in Berkshire (I didn’t make it to Cambridge or Devon this trip).
Cruising the Thames
We hired a small boat and puttered along The River Thames for almost three hours. My grandfather owned a boat and he used to take my brother and I on it down the river. We would traverse through many locks, which was always my favorite part! A lock is a device used for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. My dad got his love of the water (and the air) from his dad. I definitely felt them around me as I enjoyed the glorious serenity of the river.
My first school
Seeing the road that led to the area of my first school was heartwarming. It conjured up memories of my dad taking me when I was about Kalon’s age.
Ray Mill Island
Every summer without fail, my Nana would take us for walks across her house to Ray Mill Island to feed the ducks, look at the weir, and eat ice cream on sunny afternoons. Bringing my children there was so heartwarming. I hadn’t been there since I was 12 years old and it has stayed the same. That comforted me so much. In this day and age, money talks and sentimentality usually loses. So I was surprised but relieved to see that nothing much had changed on the island. My kids had the best time and it really took me back to those summers of my youth.
Visiting Nana’s old house
Of course I had to see my grandparents’ old house and though the exterior has changed slightly, it was still the same house. To be back there after 26 years was surreal but it made me so happy.
This trip down memory lane in England gave my heart a much needed hug. My dad has been gone for 19 months but it still feels so fresh. I believe it’s true. Nostalgia does have a positive effect, at least for me.
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