Lost, Not Found: Day 4 of the Writing 101 Blogging Challenge

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2Prompt for June 5

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

The process of moving out of the house where my children were finally raised and launched did not happen all at once. I left for graduate school after my daughter (the youngest) graduated from high school.  That was the first stage of moving. What we didn’t take to South Bend with us ended up in storage–with friends and relatives. My husband was a collector of sorts, and he was able to find storage homes for much of his stuff.

Not that I didn’t have stuff, I did. But after a few yard sales, I had scaled some stuff back. It was at that point in my life that I even thought I was going to “give up” quilting. Some lucky fabric lovers got deals on my fabric and my quilting books. We all know that quilting wasn’t lost forever at that point, so this post is about the loss of something else.

Somewhere in the process, however, I lost a black metal 3×5 file box–the extra long kind was nowhere to be found. It probably could hold at least 500 cards–not that it ever did, but the potential was there. If you haven’t noticed elsewhere, I really like index cards and their attendant paraphernalia. If you haven’t noticed, I’m better at hiding it than I realized.

As you might suspect, it wasn’t the loss of the file box itself that was terribly disappointing; such things can be easily replaced. But what was inside cannot be replaced. At least not in the form that held so much meaning. That card file was home to my collection of recipe cards. And while it’s true that I very rarely use recipe cards (or cookbooks anymore), that recipe file held something more precious than simple recipes–it held memories.

Let me give you a few examples:

  • When my sister, Cindy, and I were in high school, we started doing some baking. And we had a few recipes that were pretty standard. A killer brownie recipe, no-bake cookies, never-fail cake, and maybe something else. (You might notice I have no trouble remember the items with chocolate as the featured ingredient.) We had a typewriter in our bedroom, and we decided that we needed to have these recipes typed up for easy access. So she typed them.
  • My mother-in-law, Ann, was well known for her cooking. But two of my favorites were her home-made bread and her 1-2-3-4 cake. And yes, I can find those recipes in other places, I know. But at one point in time, she gave me those two recipes. They were written on sheets of white paper with blue lines from a writing tablet. The recipes continued on both sides of the page. They didn’t fit in the file box without folding, but I folded them both in quarters, and they fit just fine.
    My maternal grandmother

    My maternal grandmother


  • My maternal grandmother made awesome date nut bread. Luckily, she also gave several of us the recipe on an actual recipe card with some little artistic thing in the upper left hand corner. I can almost see the handwriting and the little orange-colored thing in the corner, but not enough to make out what it was up there. And who can forget the most important part of the instructions: START WITH A COLD OVEN!

These three people are no longer part of my life, but the recipes in that file box were one of the ways I continued to feel connected to them after their deaths. Of course, I have other memories, and–in each of these three cases–I have something else from them.

  • There are other stories from that recipe box. Marie, our long-time neighbor and friend, gave me her recipe for hamburger soup. She had made it for me a couple of times, once after I had surgery. I loved that soup. It is not something I would typically make, but her soup was magical. And even though, I made it from her recipe, it was never as good as hers.

When I thought about writing about the loss of my recipe file, I knew some of the stories I would include. I hadn’t originally planned to put Marie’s story here. But I’m so glad I did. Our 22 years as neighbors didn’t end there. Every summer that I’ve gone back to Michigan, I’ve always included a visit to Marie’s kitchen, just like the old days when I went across the alley to visit. Writing this post reminds me that it’s time to check in with Marie. It’s crazy, because I really do think of her often, but she rarely hears from me. I am surprised how a simple thing like a recipe file holds so much more than recipes. Apparently, the loss of the file itself is not as tragic as it sometime seems; after all, I still have these memories even without the actual file. I still have the memories of the friendships, the connections, and the laughter that come with the preparation and sharing of food.


As for the twist, I don’t know how this will fit into a serial post, but I’ll see how it goes when I get there.


This post if part of the WordPress Writing 101 Blogging Challenge:







11 comments on “Lost, Not Found: Day 4 of the Writing 101 Blogging Challenge

    • Thanks, Luanne. But I also realized that since I still have the memories, the actual items aren’t as important. And now I’ve immortalized them further in the post. Writing is amazing. 🙂

  1. You are so right, Deborah: The actual items don’t really matter; the real treasure lies in the memories they hold. I’m so sorry you lost your beloved recipe file, but heartened that you still remember some of the stories that box contained. As you say, writing is amazing. 🙂

    • Thanks, Heather. Most of the recipes I can find from other sources. And now that I’ve written this post, I have a record of some of the stories that were held within those files. Even if my memory fades, I have that post. So even though it would be lovely to have the filebox magically reappear, it’s not a terribly sadness. The memories I have of those people are what matters, and I have those. 🙂

  2. That was a good, but sad tale. :/
    Thank you for sharing. Some years ago, I lost the Christmas tree ornaments of my childhood. We moved in June, but come Thanksgiving, I realized they were gone. I cried off and on all night. They were important to me. Every year when I decorate the tree, I pine for the beaded ball Fairy Godmother made me, and my Tinman from kindergarten.
    I loved that comment about how you can still picture the note card, the scrawl START WITH A COLD OVEN. I have a few recipes like that as well.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about losing those ornaments. There is something special about the ornaments collected over the years. I can’t imagine how difficult it is. I mean, every year when you decorate for Christmas, you’re reminded. I can certainly understand you pining to touch and hold individual ones from the collection.

      It’s also interesting how something like Christmas ornaments mean so much to one person–you, and then when I tried to save ornaments and decorations for the kids over the year, none of them are that interested. In the end, most of our stuff went in yard sales or to thrift shops. The handmade stuff moved around from kid to kid for a while, but I suspect it’s all gone now.

      I hope that didn’t make things worse. I do appreciate you commenting and sharing your story.

      • No, I’m not bothered all. Perhaps your children had a great sense of stability. I moved a lot. My parents divorced when I was four. I held onto anything stable or consistent, you know?
        I boxed up the kids’ ornaments last year. I wrote a post about it, even. Time to take back my tree, mmhm! lol
        When next she can have additional baggage (like if she drives instead of flies) I think I will give our oldest daughter hers. She has more than ornaments, so it’s quite a box. I wouldn’t want to ship it.
        And you’re SO right. Every year, I hang the ornaments, and every year, I have a moment of sadness over my missing Tin Man!

  3. Definitely losing something of sentimental value is devastation at its worse. Writing about it is reliving it over and over again. I’m not sure which is worse! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Jack! Actually, writing about it let me preserve the memories. So I feel a sense of recovery. I wrote about what I remembered from that box before those memories were lost. Rather than having that loss rattling around in my mind, the writing brought closure to the loss of that file box. But the memories that were in that box are now in a place where I can recall them more easily. In a way, it’s almost as good as finding the file itself. Because of recording the details of what I remember, I can call forth those memories anytime I read this post. 🙂

  4. I really feel for you. I stuck all my recipes in a book, all on odd bits of paper, like yours, in the handwriting of people who were and are precious to me, and the book’s just come apart. Now I’ve got them all ready to go in another book; I would feel utterly bereft if I lost them. Maybe yours will turn up in your husband’s stuff. You never know. I’ve certainly found things I thought were lost forever.

    • I love the idea of you gathering all those recipes and notes for a new book, carrying them forward. In my case, the file is gone. When we moved to Taiwan, we went through absolutely everything, and all that remains now fits in a small storage unit in a small town in Michigan. It’s ok though. I have recorded the memories that were most precious to me. Thanks for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s