Leslie said, “this is how it’s done.”
No Mom! Said Jake, THIS is how it’s done!”
Now wait, says Grandma, this is how it’s REALLY done!”
(Videography by Joscelyn Studios)
I believe that most of us love to live in the past. We dwell on it, we thrive on it. I have noticed, on social media, that we focus on “the way it used to be.” Even Mom has “fallen victim” to this, writing about her life, and then dad’s, and then ours–there is great detail about childhood, but she skips around when it comes to being an adult. Don’t worry, Mom, I noticed that I do it too.
Why is this? I think that we look back on our childhood, for the most part, as a time of innocence, and we long to have it back. We have grown up, we are disappointed, somewhat, with the decisions we have made (because, everything is cause and effect and my decisions help aide and abet others’ decisions, maybe…). We long for the days when life was simpler….when the mud pie, though inedible, was the basis for our day, walking with our friends down the street, and the rattle of the little red wagon pulled behind us.
This is what America looked like, for me.
I grew up in a very small community, it had a thriving downtown. I walked “to town” daily with my grandmother, holding her hand, especially across the bridge that I was sure I’d be sucked down through the slats and into the water….she had her “shopping bag,” we’d collect the mail, go to the grocery store, and do the various other little errands that made up her day. We would visit the old old lady next door, she was friends with her and her caregiver, we would visit the old old lady across the street, she was friends with her and her caregiver, too. I’d crawl into bed with my grandmother in the middle of the night, and twirl and entangle my little 3 year old fingers under her hairnet, driving her crazy. Why did I ever do that? I have no idea, but no matter how much she protested, I still did it.
I have very vague recollection of our very short move to Watertown, New York. We lived in the upstairs of a house, which was backed (and fenced in) by the Black River. I remember an older girl, Peaches Sticklebar, held me and told me she was going to toss me down and I’d land in the little row boat by the edge and I could go across the river (oh man! No way! But I was three, and would believe anything). There was a convent across the street. Very mysterious (I’d love to go back and see if it’s still there).
Later, we moved to a small house on the outskirts of the village. Our summer days consisted of swimming lessons, riding our bikes (or walking) to the library, buying popsicles or penny candy at the gas station, and visiting our downtown stores: Ben Franklin (a department store that had the coolest in pencil erasers, I remember buying a pink squirrel pencil erase, I vaguely remember it didn’t work as well as I thought it would…), the Rexall drug store (candy, of course), Hoppies (Mr. Hoffman used to have an ice cream parlor, before my time, but during my early years he had a shop that had a big case of penny candy, records of the latest hits from the Beatles and others in 45 rpm, cards, comic books, etc., I loved his shop!
I remember also summer days of playing with the neighbor children across the meadow. The four of us spent our eternities of summer days with hopscotch marathons, jump rope marathons, picking strawberries, and later on as we grew a little older, we helped them sell corn on the side of the road (50 cents for a baker’s dozen).
Then my mind chooses to skip over the teen years. There are some memories, but not too many worth recording, or not worth recording for others to read. Days of summer band trips, babysitting younger brothers and sisters, not wanting to go on vacation because I was too grown up to do so (I had to get into the car and go anyway). College and it’s anxiety, I quit because I got a job (don’t worry, I followed through a few years later and go my associate’s degree). Marriage. Skipping through Philadelphia for three years, moving to Allentown, and then the years just skip around a lot. I remember things, but mostly things that were difficult. Is this the way it is? Is this why we choose to dwell on our childhood? Surely our childhood couldn’t have been that good.
It’s interesting to take stock of our years, to figure this all out.
And, by the way, yes, it was that good. In my own personal reality, it was the best. This is why I ended up back in my little home town. This is why I ended up buying the house next door to my childhood home (not the one on the edge of town, the one in the village).
In my days as a substitute teacher, the kids were doing a project for Home & Careers and I heard one child say, “My childhood sucked.” My heart dropped. How sad that this child felt that way. My prayer is that, one day, she will look back, and remember it with the same fondness that many of us share.
I’m certain that my days were not all good, but our memories in childhood collect the good. I’m sorry for those that do not. Not everyone is as fortunate. War torn countries do not have this pleasure. But, my guess is that the children do hang onto the good memories. That’s what children do.
Now I realize that I’ve finished this article, I haven’t touched on what I intended. But that’s the nature of writing, isn’t it? It’s the soul working itself out into stories.
It was 1993, and again in 1995, that we “did the west.” A trip down memory lane, at this summer’s end I took, with my photo albums. Here’s to sharing with you…
Wide open spaces…
Where deer and antelope play…
Near Pinedale, Wyoming.
Arches National Park (okay, I had to re-edit this, grainy, but still good enough for majesty, I am the white blob in the corner of the arch).
A legendary creature….
The best cowboy show, IMHO…
Climbing up to visit the Anasazi…
3 widdle kids….or is it the Apple Dumpling Gang revisited? (these 3 are now adults…with families)
If I am any encouragement at all…
In the 1970 television series, The Immortal, Ben Richards has a rare blood type which makes him immortal. Throughout this series, he gives his blood to save those in need, and is on the run, while bringing goodness and life to those in need.
While this is fiction, we all strive and desire immortality, yet every day we are one step, one day, even that day, of our own mortal (human) destiny.
We seek it through our children and those that remember us well. I was reminded of this with my precious little almost three year old granddaughter. She doesn’t know me well, it’s difficult for her to warm up to me because we do not see each other often enough, but she knows that I am her grandmother and she has a duty of love. I was looking for my lipstick. Failing to find it, she said, “Grandma, you can use mine.” She got it, I said, “can you help me put it on?” And she did, with her generous little heart. Another happy thought for this grandmother, and one I will take to my heart for the rest of my time.
We are immortalized, after all, through the generations of our children and grandchildren.
So this story is for you, my little one.
I took a three week break from my readings, and have now chosen to return to Emerson. I have had need of a clear focus, and for me this works.
As a tidbit on the wisdom of youth, he writes the following:
Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it, so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and made it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be put by, if it will stand by itself. Do not think the youth has no force, because he cannot speak to you and me. Hark! in the next room his voice is sufficiently clear and emphatic. It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries. Bashful or bold, then, he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary.
I chuckle as I read these words, for I am reminded of my grown children, their wisdom, and their children, whom we talk baby talk, try to get their attention, try to teach them, only to be confounded by their childlike wisdom, and as they grow and conform to their peers and siblings, we become the appendage or, “what do we do with Grandma?”
“Spring! Spring! Spring!” sang the frog.
“Spring!” said the groundhog.
“Spring, Spring, Spring!” sang the robin.
It was Spring.
The leaves burst out.
The flowers burst out.
And robins burst out of their eggs.
It was Spring
Home For A Bunny
by Margaret Wise Brown,
A Little Golden Book
I am reminded of this book as the weather gets warmer, spring is only a week away….the snow is starting to melt, there is a little bit of power behind that sunshine!
My journey today has taken me into reading of Kokopelli, the Native American flute player. Kokopelli, among his other talents, plays his flute to usher winter into spring. Appropriate.
(no, they’re not here yet, this is a photo I have on file, but I’ll let you know when they surface!)