KT unrolled the tattered batik on the framing shop’s counter. The worn image of two onions evoked a flood of memories. For Andy, the framer, it seemed unworthy. He laughed at its frayed edges, scattered holes, faded colors and said, “Well, it’s no Picasso. If it were, greater experts than I would be working around the clock to save it.”
Like the onion, its worth lay hidden. It had hung in my husband’s dorm room at Indiana University when we first met. It had accompanied us on every move through his military career. KT had resurrected it from the dusty garage for her dorm room at I.U., carried it to Oregon for her first home as a newlywed. Now she wanted to preserve and display it in her second home in North Idaho. She retained its sentimental value, I sought its mental value. When readers ask, “How did you remember such detail when writing Memory Lake?” I quote the lowly onion. Life adds layers. Writing peels them away. At the onion’s heart is an immature flower protected from the casual eye by layers of memory. Like a knife, the sharp pain of my mom’s passing had cut to the immature flower within and exposed these layers which I tenderly peeled away with the written word.
As Andy quoted a framing price worthy of a Dead Sea Scroll, KT’s phone alerted a text message. There, in front of that counter, we learned Dana’s battle with hodgkin’s lymphoma had officially entered remission after a year of treatments. And so, as another layer of memory slipped between us and the onions, I reached for my credit card.