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JamBios Memory Gallery

The JamBios Memory Gallery showcases user submitted memory stories from around the globe.

Each month selections are hand curated by Annie Cusick Wood and the JamBios creative team. They are chosen based on how the memory touches our heart, makes us laugh or inspires us.

To submit your memory story, start your free JamBio and invite the Memory Gallery to read one of your Chapter sections. Select Reader "Memory Gallery" at MemoryGallery@JamBios.com.

By Kristen Jaccodine

In the Wood

I remember it as if were yesterday. My parents took my sister and I to Vermont for winter break. We stayed in Woodstock, but spent some time in Stowe. Stowe is about four hours further north. This quaint Vermont town is home to Mt. Mansfield, the highest mountain in the state, peaking at 4,395 feet above sea level. Ben & Jerry's manufacturing plant is in a neighboring town, along with Cabot Cheese and the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.  It's also home to Trapp Family Lodge - of the von Trapp Family. Baron von Trapp, his wife Maria and their children eventually settled in Stowe after escaping their beloved war-torn Austria in 1938.  The family chose this land nestled in the mountains, overlooking the village of Stowe because it reminded them of their home country.

On that trip in February 1985, as my sister and I sat on the floor, putting together a small jigsaw puzzle of the lodge, our parents purchased a time share. For the next 50 years, we would spend a week every summer (and eventually a week in the winter and eventually in the spring) in this beautiful place.  As much as I've traveled throughout the country and have visited wonderful places, it is here, that I return to year after year. The scenery is beautiful regardless of the season (although I will say that March, after the snow has melted and all that is left behind is mud? Not so pretty), but the sense of peace and calm that always settle within me while I'm here never changes.

Now, I can recount all of my adventures at the lodge, and maybe, one day I will. But for now, I want to focus on my last trip there.

It was last summer. While at Trapp, we have several traditions. We have ice cream at Ben & Jerry's, go to the Cabot annex store to sample the cheese and syrups they may have, bike along the rec path that starts from the base of Mt. Mansfield and ends in town, swim, and hike either on the Trapp property or elsewhere. Indoors, we challenge ourselves to complete a jigsaw puzzle within a week's time, we read, and play games. With the opening of the new bierhall, we eat lunch or dinner there at least once during our stay. 

These are all things we do has a family. I also take time out for myself. I will go for a hike or a bike ride. More likely, I will retire to the lounge in the lodge, drink in hand, and write. Sometimes the drink is Sangria, other times it is a glass of Helles (Trapp Beer).

Earlier that morning, we hiked to the chapel built by Werner von Trapp. It is a beautifully crafted structure made of stone. After the boys took turns ringing the bell, we continued our walk through the woods, working our way back to the lodge. Nathan and I stayed back, searching for leaves for his school project, examining the depth of the mud puddles, and tossing rocks into the natural streams that feed the trees and plants of the earth. We visited the sugar shack, checked out the trees tapped for maple syrup, and listened to the hum of the birds and other wildlife that call this area home.

I enjoy hiking and these casual strolls through the silent woods. I appreciate the beauty that is found among the rocks, trees, plants and streams. I allow the fresh air to fill my lungs, my soul, with the goal of erasing the toxins that remain behind, a result of a difficult year at work. When I shared this piece with Elliot, my older nephew, he asked where my inspiration came from. I shared that it was the result of various hikes we've taken along the way, but it all came together on this morning, as we walked through the forest behind the lodge. 

After settling in at the lodge, drink in hand, mountains in view, I began to write. I'm a bit of a traditionalist in that I often hand write my stories and poems before typing them. There is something about the feel of paper beneath my hand, the light weight of my pen against my fingers, and the ability to cross things out without losing them completely. 

The silent, mysterious wood
called to me
Beckoning me to discover its’
shaded path

This hidden treasure
Revealed itself to be a
Stretch of twists and turns,
That carried me up, over, and through
Mounds of secure and ancient granite
While blankets of pine mixed with varying
Hues of soil softened my steps

With the sun to my back
And a slight breeze on my side,
I absorb the warmth of the fresh air
Allowing it to cleanse me
And erase the stress and worries
That I carried far too long

 In the wood, you are free
To reflect and replenish your mind
And allow the peace and tranquility that thrive here
To fill your soul and set you on a new path
One that does not return you to the beginning,
But starts you in the middle, forgiving past transgressions
providing the courage to move forward and begin anew
Refreshed and awakened to the possibilities that await.

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Category: Memory Gallery Selection

This memory story reminds us that we can find more than beautiful scenery in nature.

JamBios Featured Section
By SunshineCowger

The Call that Saved My Life

On March 2, 2018, my day started off pretty normal. I woke up at 4 am and headed off to my dialysis treatment. I would sit for 3 1/2 hours while the blood would go through a machine, be cleaned and then placed back into my body.

I picked my son up from school that day, we got home and wrestled. That is just something a hyperactive boy has to do after sitting in school for seven hours. We ate dinner, goofed around some more and then settled in to watch a bit of television. I decided to go ahead and take my shower. And that was when everything changed.

My phone rang, it didn't say that it was coming from Loma Linda and I very rarely even check my voice mail. However, because it was a call from a '909', I thought it might have something to do with my uncle that I talk to each and every week. He is a darling man who is about to reach his ninety-second birthday. So, what does one do when they are fresh out of the shower and still have to brush their teeth? They check their voice mail of course.

Imagine my surprise when I checked my voicemail! "Hi Sunshine, this is Byron from Loma Linda. It is very important that you call me back." That was it! All that he said. I stood still momentarily as I tried to make sense of why he was calling. Appointment? Problem with my blood work? Possible Kidney? I prayed, I'm a praying woman and I learned a long time ago that prayer works.

I called Byron back. He said "We have a possible kidney for you." I suppose most would think a person would scream and cry in that moment, I didn't. I said very calmly "Ok". Then he hit me with the following, "You are not the primary recipient for this kidney." However, here is what I can tell you. Once you are on the transplant list, you have to keep all your tests up to date. Which is a lot. There is the stress test, mammogram, blood work, eye screening and chest x-ray. Apparently the first person didn't have all of their requirements finished. Byron said he would be calling me back.

He called me back less than forty minutes later, "We can't find your stress test." Let me tell you something, that alone was like my very own personal stress test. I told him so, he said "Well, does your chest hurt?" I laughed and said "No." He said, "Well, I will call you back."

Then another thirty minutes went by when Byron called again. "Sunshine, it is looking really good for you. When can you get here?" Now, I was getting excited even though, the kidney still wasn't officially mine. "I can get there about eleven. It was nine forty-five when I told him so. We literally got in the car at ten on the dot and started the one hour drive.

We arrived at Loma Linda University Medical Center at eleven ten at night. We walked through the rain and found our way to unit 4100. I met with a nurse name, Abby (If you are one of my fan fiction fans, yes, I knew that was a good sign. Never did meet a Kane). I was put in room 2 and immediately changed into an unflattering hospital gown, beggars can't be choosy. Then I was rushed out to undergo several tests. Yet, the kidney still wasn't mine.

We were told that the surgery was supposed to take place starting at one, so imagine my disappointment when one in the morning came and went. So, finally, I bit the bullet and asked. The nurse came in, "I called down to the OR, they still don't have the kidney here yet. Our surgeons went out to Los Angeles to start the surgery already. We will let you know." Then three in the morning came, I was still awake. Who can sleep at a time like that? Two nurses came running in, "You are getting the kidney! It is yours! You'll be going down at four." I cried, covered my face and cried.

The hour that should have passed quickly, passed way too slowly. In the end, they didn't come and get me at four, or five, or six...........no, they came in at nine. "Sunshine, they called, they are coming up to get you." Once again, I cried. I held Tyler to me who had been asleep at the end of my hospital bed. I kissed his head and told him over and over again just how much I loved him. I told him to be extra nice to my dog, because there was no way to explain to Mario just what was going on. Mario always acts like I've been gone on vacation when all I did was run to the grocery store. He laughed and said "Maybe, I'll see how my mood is." I laughed, because well, that is Tyler.

I was wheeled down to the OR, which is where I said 'see ya later to Bob and Tyler' That part is always so hard. I laid there for about thirty minutes before I was wheeled in. They put the oxygen on me and then injected me with something that burned, the IV had infiltrated. So, the doctor was trying to talk to me to take my mind off of it. "Where is one place you want to go, Sunshine?" I answered quickly, "Hawaii". The doctor smiled, "Well, when you go, you will love it. We give you the right medicines, so if you think about it, you will be there in a few minutes."

I woke up in recovery with my new kidney. The first words I heard was from a woman, "Your kidney started working on the table, you are doing great!" I was so happy. They gave me ice chips. I started bribing people for ice chips. Less that an hour in recovery, I was transported back to unit 1400. Now, when most people come through those double doors, they are lying back and passed out. Not so much with me, I was sitting up, I fist bumped the air and chanted, "I got my kidney! I got my kidney!"

The call came in on March 2, 2018. I received the life-saving transplant on March 3, 2018 and on March 7, 2018, I was released from the hospital. Not bad for such a big surgery.

My donor was a 46 year old healthy man. He was walking down the stairs when he slipped and fell, hitting his head and having a brain hemorrhage. His family chose to donate his organs because his aunt had recently received a kidney transplant.

I am beyond grateful to have a new lease on life. For the first six weeks, I can't be in large groups. Ugh, for someone like me, that will be difficult. However, it is a small price to pay. I look forward to traveling without having to set up dialysis treatments, I look forward to working without having to work it around treatments. I'm just so grateful and blessed. I thank anyone and everyone who has been rooting for me. I thank God for hearing my prayers.

You too can be someone who donates - www.organdonor.gov

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Category: Memory Gallery Selection

We were all jumping for joy at this very recent memory from our regular contributor Sunshine Cowger. Congratulations!

JamBios Featured Section
By Kristen Jaccodine

March 21st

Today would have been your 43rd birthday. Now, nearly 21 years after your death, I wonder, would we be in contact? Would we have  celebrated this day as we did when we were in college? Would you be upset about being in your 40's as you were when you turned 20? I remember that day.....we were in the hall of our dorm....you placed your hair in pigtails, wore overalls, and refused to admit that on that March 21st, in brisk New Hampshire, you were no longer a teenager. Despite your display of childhood antics, we celebrated your birthday, celebrated you, our wonderful loving friend, who made us laugh until we cried, who spoke your mind, taught us a thing or two about procrastination, who loved Les Miserables, and who absolutely loved to dance.  

About a month after your death, you came to me in a dream. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were in my high school locker room...why? Shit if I know. I grew up in NJ, you in Mass., and we did not meet until college. But, that was the setting. It was just after Thanksgiving and for whatever reason, I was in the girls locker room, prepping for a soccer game. A sport we had in common. I saw you and kept asking why you were there, how you were there. I followed you down the hall that led to the exit door, continually asking these questions, but you remained silent. Your hair was down and you were dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.  After exiting the door, you turned to me and said, "It's going to be okay Chicken, it's going to be okay." With a final smile, you closed the door behind you. I ran to it, tried to open the door only to find it locked. I searched for a way to unlock it, but it was hidden from me. When I woke, even though my heart ached, somewhere hidden behind that pain there was hope. Hope in these last words you spoke to me.

Your life was cut short at the age of 22 by a drunk driver, drag racing on the Mass Turnpike. You were on your way to my house for my graduation party. We talked on the phone a few days before that, reviewing directions to my house, and laughing about everything and anything that came to mind. You shared with me that your grandmother, two days before our conversation, was nearly hit by a car speeding down the street. We talked about just how quickly life can end and we should never, ever take anything for granted.  Now, when I think about how hard it was for you to turn 20, how you nearly didn't graduate from college because you feared what the future held, and you worried about leaving our home in the shadows of Grand Monadnock, I wonder if the ending to your life story was always meant to happen at a young age. Of course, it infuriates me that your death came at the hands of an irresponsible and selfish individual, but I do find comfort in the idea that wherever you are, your soul is still young and at peace.

I write this in memory of you, my dear friend Dennise, because I want you to know that I will never forget you or the times that we shared. I think of you every time I see a play. I literally scan the sets looking for a bench, smiling when I see one. Of course, it is not the one we built together in our first on campus job (after mastering the use of power tools. We should have taken our bench from the prop room when we graduated.) I smile and sing along when I hear one of your favorite songs on the radio, and yes, even though I was initially not a fan, I still listen to Jimmy Buffet.  And although there are many things that I'd like to talk to you about, there is only one that I'd like to share with you now.

When we met, we learned that in addition to applying to Franklin Pierce, we also applied to Roger Williams, (Tracy too). We always planned to study psychology and ultimately decided to attend Pierce because we chose mountains over ocean. We knew in that moment we were destined to be friends. I also believe in the circle of life.  In the idea that even though our loved ones are no longer with us physically, are still around us, and will reveal themselves in ways that are both beautiful and unexpected.  

In the years that you've been gone, I've lost contact with the girls. Sure, we tried to stay in touch after your funeral, even saw each other a few times, but as time passed and our lives moved on, we lost touch. During these years, I wavered between being furious at why this was happening, why did we lose you and then each other, to wondering if there was something more that I needed to do to keep our friendship intact. And then I thought, maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm not meant to have people in my life for the long haul, after all, that's how it had been for me up to that point (save for my best friend from high school). After a while I just realized that it is just life and that really, it was nobody's fault. Sometimes things just happen. 

That's where Liana comes in. Liana teaches biology at the same high school I work in as a Guidance Counselor. We started at the school 14 years ago. This morning, on our 9th snow day of this school year, I joined Liana, her husband and their son, and two other friends for breakfast.  Because that's what you do on a snow day, right? You go out! The white stuff had yet to make an appearance, (though it is falling steadily as I write this).  Although we've met for breakfast before on snow days, today we met to celebrate. You see, today is also Liana's birthday. Is it a coincidence that I have two friends, from different chapters in my life, that share the same birthday? Maybe. But I choose to believe it means something more. 

Like you, Liana loves to dance. She's incredibly smart, well spoken, organized, and yes, a bit of a procrastinator. Her hair is curly and she has kind blue eyes, though she is blonde and not a brunette. She also enjoys hiking and listening to music. Although there are differences between you, there is one trait that you have in common. She is an unwavering friend with a genuine heart. I learn from her, just as I always learned from you. Even though she is a few years younger than us, I do believe in this crazy circle of life. I believe that in a way that cannot be explained, there is a part of your spirit within her. And just like you and I, Liana and I were also destined to become friends.

As we sang Happy Birthday to Liana at breakfast , I was also singing to you. I hope that wherever you are, you are happy and that the music never stops playing. Thank you for being my friend and for all the things you taught me. Most importantly, thanks for letting me know that it would all be okay. 

Because it is. 

 

 

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Category: Memory Gallery Selection

We were moved by the bonds of friendship that span time and space in this memorial memory.

JamBios Featured Section
By Clare Cox

The Agony and the Ecstasy

How do you greet your heroes? 

With confidence? Like an old friend down the  pub, easy banter flowing back and forth, implying a shared history even if it only exists in your imagination?

Gushing and excited? Tripping over part formed sentences the pressure of speech unstoppable as you rush to convey just how deeply they have touched and enriched your life words jumbled and nonsensical falling in a never ending torrent 

Or silent, stuttering, tongue tied? Unable to express your inner most feelings, over anxious on how they will be perceived and received. Not wanting to cause discomfort to your intended recipient, you stand awkwardly, dumb struck,  praying for rescue


No matter your approach, they listen

 you still, 

they     See      You       

and small gestures begin to bring you calm, 

a touch,

a whispered comfort so you remember to breathe,

an acknowledgement of common denominator graciously offered to put you at ease


And all too soon it is over and the memories burn hot in your brain. The nature of the meeting taking on a surreal quality and the necessity of replaying every word to relive sometimes frustrated by gaps, where your conscious waved the white flag and took itself off for a lay down

You ride the waves of emotion,  grateful for that small connection no matter how fleeting. Thankful for its occurrence especially in the unexpected moments, when the memories return and break through unbidden, giving you pause to smile and reflect

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Category: Memory Gallery Selection

We pretty much go through something very similar!

JamBios Featured Section
By Emily Thiessen

What Does It Mean?

Everyone remembers where they were when 9/11 happened. For me, it happened twice.

On September 7th, 2001, I’d gone over to my friend Amy’s house for a sleepover. We’d watched movies, gossiped about crushes - all the regular innocent mischief twelve-year old girls tend to get up to. And then - resolving that although pulling an all-nighter was a cool idea, it was one we could attempt another time - we went to bed. We both climbed into the top level of her loft bed, laid down top-to-tail with my head at her feet facing the window… and slowly the whispered giggles were replaced with slow, easy breathing. We fell asleep, and into the world of dreams.

The dream that had chosen me put me in the forested outskirts of a city.

I could see the entire city, almost as if it were in miniature, nestled into a valley below where I stood. At the center of that city stood a skyscraper that reached hundreds of feet above the rest of the buildings around. It stood proud, a shining pillar against the amber sunset.

And then I heard a sound.

A sharp, high-pitched whistling sound pierced the air. It was like white noise, turned violent. I looked to find the source of the awful sound, and suddenly, from beyond the edge of the trees, it emerged - a plane. I watched as this silver bullet sliced through the sky towards the city. Then, horror chilling me to the bone, I watched it collide with that beautiful tower. The tower crumbled. The city was washed over with a powerful wave of dust and ash.  

I remember suddenly being aware that I had a few of my close friends standing by me. I turned to them, reassured them that we were safe on the outskirts even though the dust was beginning to crawl beyond the city… and then I woke up. 

I didn’t get back to sleep that night. It was four in the morning when my eyes shot open in a panic, my heart racing - and my ears still ringing with the ghost of that horrible whistling sound, so loud and constant that all hope of finding rest again was well and truly lost. I had no choice but to stare out my friend Amy’s window, watching the sun rise while I waited for her to wake up and distract me.  

Four days later, on September 11, 2001, I was in my seventh-grade French class, and the principal came in to announce that there had been a terrorist attack. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Centre.

My blood has never run so cold.

I spent most of that day in complete shock, watching over and over and over and over again as my nightmare came to life. 

Now, I’ve never claimed to be a mystic, and such a “vision” has never happened again - but that sort of thing has a way of making you evaluate your life. I was an extremely sheltered  twelve-year old girl at the time, and Canadian. I was, for all intents and purposes, almost completely disconnected from the immediate effects of that attack. As in the dream, I was on the outskirts of the suffering. So why had I, of all people, been given that unique emotional investment in it? Why was I chosen to be a voyeur in a situation I couldn’t have known nearly enough about? And if it were a prophecy, what the hell did I have in my power to do about it?

In the days and years following 9/11, it became clear that this event marked a tectonic shift in the very foundation of our world - of who we are as humanity. And so, seventeen years later, I’m still asking myself those questions. Why me? Who am I in all of this? Ultimately, I think that’s actually the closest I’ll ever come to finding an answer as to why this dream came to me - to make sure that I never stop asking myself those things. To always consider my role in any crisis, because there’s always a role to be filled. To step into the suffering, even if you’re safe on the outskirts. To take responsibility for the future of mankind. 

...alright, so, maybe that dream gave me a bit of a hero complex. 

And in all honesty, there’s a very real chance that it actually meant nothing. A matter of coincidence. But in seventeen years, I’ve made the decision over and over that it does mean something, that my contribution to the future is something I need to keep myself accountable to. That there is a contribution for me to make.

I’ve never once regretted it.

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Category: Memory Gallery Selection

Have you ever wondered if your dreams foretell the future? This memory will make you think twice.

JamBios Featured Section
By Ashley Ratajski

A Frightening Situation

What is happening in this world? Every time I log onto the internet or turn on the news I see another tragic story. We recently found out about the horrific events that took place in a Florida high school. It breaks my heart to think about what those poor children experienced and what those poor parents now have to go through. No one should ever have to experience that sort of pain. When I see/hear things like this happening in our world, I can't help but think of a situation that took place my senior year in high school. It wasn't anything like what happened in Florida but at the time I had no clue how my day was going to end.

One day, my mother dropped my brother and I off at school. We entered the school through a side door every morning. When you entered the building you could either walk straight or go down the stairs. I would always walk straight because my locker was on the second floor of the building and my brother would always walk down the stairs because his locker was on the first floor.  I said goodbye to my brother and started walking. Within 30 seconds of entering the school,  I see this girl running at top speed in my direction. She was in a panic, crying, and shaking. She started yelling "Someone has been stabbed." I immediately froze. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. A gym teacher was near by and he ran up to her to try to calm her down so he could learn more information from her about what was going on. Instead of panicking myself, I turned around and walked down the stairs to find my brother. When I made it downstairs, no one was panicking. Everything seemed normal. It occurred to me that they had no clue what was going on so the stabbing must have happened upstairs. I calmly walked to my brother's locker hoping he would still be there. He was. I walked up to him and whispered "Someone was just stabbed upstairs." He just looked at me. I didn't know what to do or where to go. I didn't know any details. Who did the stabbing? Does he have a gun? Does he have friends with weapons? You hear about this stuff happening on the news all the time and I immediately started thinking about that. My brother wanted to go upstairs to see what was going on. I thought that was a ridiculous idea. Sure enough though he took off to head upstairs. That's when I started panicking. No one on the first floor still had any idea what was going on. I didn't want to start screaming or crying. So I took off after my brother. I didn't want to be separated. The staircase that I took just happened to be near my locker. It was around the corner. When I turned the corner the scene was quite different compared to what was happening on the first level. There was panic. Kids were running. Teachers were yelling "GET INTO A CLASSROOM NOW!" I didn't see my brother anywhere but I ran into the Psychology room. I was in there with about 3 or 4 other students and the teacher. I didn't know it at the time but apparently the stabbing took place right outside the room I was currently in.

At this point I was very concerned. I didn't know where my brother was. I didn't know where my friends were. This was pre-smart phone days. Anyone with a cell phone had a flip phone. We couldn't access the internet or social media. I didn't even have my phone with me. I had no way of knowing where anyone was or if they were okay. Within minutes we were looking out the windows seeing the police starting to show up. Then the news crew. The teacher knew parents would start seeing this on the news and start to panic so she let us use her phone to call them. I remember calling my parents and telling them I was okay but I didn't know where Mike was. It was bothering me so much knowing that I was with him a short while ago and he just took off. I wanted to stay together. I was also worried about my best friend. She was there somewhere in the building. My friend of 14 years. I had no idea if she was okay. A lot of things run through your mind when you are in a situation like that.

Luckily, the school was only in lock down mode for about an hour and a half. The kid was caught and arrested. The poor kid who was stabbed was taken to the hospital and he is fine to this day. No lives lost. When you are in that situation though it is TERRIFYING.  My high school was very large and when you are locked in a classroom in one corner of the building you have no idea what is happening elsewhere. You start thinking about what you see on the news happening in other schools. I think about this often and realize how lucky everyone at my school was that this situation wasn't worse. 

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Category: Memory Gallery Selection

Today's current events often evoke our own past memories such as this one.