Slice of Life: 1997


It seems early in the game to be stuck for an idea of what to write about, and I’m not really stuck. I have a couple of topics I want to write about. Just not tonight. I remembered reading a “Currently” post earlier today and thought that would be an easy option. There was just one problem. I couldn’t find the post. Okay, I’ll just google “currently blog post.” Of course I didn’t find what I was looking for. I found something better.

WordPress has a .pdf document called 365 Days of Writing PromptsI scrolled to the prompt for March 7th, but didn’t love it. So I went back into February and found this:

Buffalo nickel

Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on
the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

This appealed to me. I grabbed by wallet and pulled out a penny. 1997. What was I doing in 1997?

I was teaching third grade. If I remember correctly, I had a pretty challenging class that year, and I was taking classes for my master’s degree. Brian turned 16 in November and was chomping at the bit to get his driver’s license. Michael was 13 and our days were filled with soccer practice, swim meets and kayaking on the weekend. Life was a blur.

But what truly stands out for me about 1997 is that my dear Aunt Polly lost her battle with cervical cancer that October. Aunt Polly was only 9 years older than me and I idolized her like an older sister. When I spent the night at my grandparents house, I slept in the twin bed across from hers in her room under the eaves. I loved being there with her.

She loved the Beatles and had turned a room above the garage into her Beatle shrine. Posters and clippings from magazines covered the walls, and she taught me to do the twist in that room.

All too soon, Aunt Polly was a busy teenager with no time for her little niece. Then she went off to college and I didn’t see her for months at a time. But as we both got older, we grew closer again. She was an accomplished photographer and took all the pictures at my wedding as her gift to me and my husband. Sadly, because she was so busy behind the camera, I don’t have any photos of us together that day.

It’s unbelievable to me that almost nineteen years have passed since I said goodbye to Aunt Polly. I think of her often and wish she could have grown old with her husband and their dogs, been at my sister’s wedding, and seen my boys grow up into men. She was one of the most loving, caring people I have ever known, and I’m lucky she was part of my life. Thank you, Aunt Polly, for everything.


  Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

7 thoughts on “Slice of Life: 1997

  1. Hello! Catherine,
    I enjoyed reading about your Aunt Polly! I had an Aunt Polly too who also passed away but in 1999. Your Aunt seems like a wonderful person. I also like how you arrived at your topic. Thanks for sharing your inspiration!


  2. I like your story about your search, but that memories of your Aunt Polly resulted from that search is even better. I had one aunt close in age to me too, and we remained so close until her death, also younger than it should have been. She gave me my love of books, & we read together for a long time, until I moved to Colorado. I love your description of the memories, Catherine. Your Aunt Polly sounds like someone good to have in your life.


  3. What a wonderful memory about your Aunt Polly. I too have a couple of uncles that are more like cousins because we are so close in age. Many fond memories with both of them. Thanks again for sharing.


  4. Your Aunt Polly does indeed have a sweet and open face! We learn to live despite our grief, but you never stop wishing you’d had more time with the people you love.


  5. The relationship between aunt and niece is so special. We all have that favorite aunt who we love so much and carry memories of with us wherever we go. I’m sorry to hear you lost Aunt Polly so soon, but I’m glad you have these sweet memories of time with her.


  6. When I first read the year 1997, I thought loss. We lost a lot of people that year. In some ways, our lives were parallel. My oldest was 12 and youngest 7, and we were busy.
    How special that your aunt took your wedding photos. I like your memory slice. When I run low on prompts, I’m going to remember this.


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