Categories
Memoirs

A New House

Me on the top right with my brother and sisters on the front doorsteps.

My parents rented houses and apartments for their growing family up until I was seven years old. I remember living in six different houses, but there was at least one I don’t remember. Then Daddy decided to buy us a house. A new house. A bigger house. Less than five years old, with three bedrooms and full closets, wood paneling, and a huge yard. Mama was so excited. They financed it with Daddy’s boss and a mortgage for $8000. (This was 1966.)

So I grew up in that house. My brother and two sisters and me. My sisters shared a bedroom with me, and we had three twin beds in one room, just like “The Brady Bunch” sisters. In fact, I idolized Marcia Brady. I wanted to be just like her.

SOURCE

My brother, being the only boy, got a room all to himself. He didn’t stay in there by himself, though. He took great delight in terrorizing his sisters. He and I are only fourteen months apart, so sometimes I got to do things with him that our younger sisters did not. He would build an entire ranch in the dirt pile under a huge oak tree at the corner of our backyard, and allow me to use some of his Tonka trucks to have a ranch near his. He used his wide open hand to make the roads. I always asked him to make mine because I just couldn’t quite get the knack for it.

After moving into that house in May, we played outdoors all summer long, riding bicycles in the asphalt road, making roads in the dirt, playing with the water hose, and running barefoot everywhere. We got poison oak (similar to ivy), chiggers, ticks, wasp stings, pinworms, and sunburns, but we had a blast.

I guess this house was “the house that built me.” What about you? Do you have fond childhood memories? Was there a special childhood home?

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Why I’m Surprised (but Grateful)

Spanish villas overlook the Mediterranean Sea at La Herradura Southern Spain. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Here I am, retired and nowhere near where I expected to be at this stage of my life. What happened to those lofty dreams of years ago when I pictured myself in a luxurious mansion sipping cocktails by a pool overlooking the Mediterranean? I guess I killed them. I didn’t choose to kill them. I killed them with my choices.

Choice #1: Going to college instead of joining the Navy. The Navy appealed to me as a high school senior because it promised world travel with a good salary and future retirement benefits. I didn’t want to leave my boyfriend, so I went to college. I also didn’t believe I could make it through basic training because I am basically a wuss when it comes to physical activities. I am not athletic in the least.

Choice #2: I followed my heart while in college. I married before I graduated, and he was young. He had to find a good job and never went to college himself. He did work hard providing for me and our eventual kids, though. He said he wouldn’t change a thing, but sometimes I think he would have been better off waiting. I would have been, too.

Choice #3: Not finishing my pre-med program. I didn’t take Chemistry or Physics in high school because I was afraid of failure, and my first Chemistry class was a disaster. I learned nothing because the teacher wasn’t a good one. I barely passed the second semester under the other teacher, so I decided I would never be able to pass Organic chemistry. I also have a phobia of needles, which people say you get over, but I hate fainting in class (which I did three times).

Choice #4: Not taking Chemistry and Physics in high school. I was scared of the teachers and failure.

Choice #5: Letting fear control my decisions.

I did make other choices affecting my life’s journey, and I’m not saying I regret making easier choices, but I am in a different place than I expected to be. But isn’t that what God is all about? Taking us on new and unexpected journeys? He has blessed me with a loving husband, two beautiful children and their spouses, and three wonderful grandchildren.

My cup is full, although my mansion is a 1961 wood frame three-bedroom home and I might sip coffee or wine on my deck or front porch. Who needs a mansion on the Mediterranean anyway? I have one “just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old” (old church hymn) anyway!

What about you? Have you landed where you least expected? I’d love to hear from you!

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Back to school

Those three words used to create dread and excitement when I was an elementary school student. I dreaded things like getting up early, riding the bus, being in P.E., having to get to know new teachers, wondering which of my friends would be in my class, eating in the school cafeteria. Few things about the start of school were exciting, but I did (and still do!) love shopping the new school supplies, getting new clothes, and seeing my friends again.

Summer vacation meant sleeping in and waking up to Mama sweeping the floor. It meant morning cartoons on TV and riding my bike or playing in the dirt pile until it got too hot in the afternoon. It meant my sisters and me running lemonade stands stocked with Koolaid and only having one customer and that was the man who came home with Daddy at lunchtime. It meant Vacation Bible School and getting to hold the Bible during the pledge to “God’s Holy Word.”

Summer meant getting to skip a nightly bath occasionally even after playing outside until dark. It meant fireflies and family “work up” baseball in the yard. It meant trips to the lake and family vacations staying in state park shelters and visiting relatives.

But summers didn’t last forever. So, armed with a new Big Chief tablet or loose leaf notebook, new pencils or pens, crayons or map colors, and a King Edward cigar box to hold everything, I entered the brave new world of the next grade.

https://img1.etsystatic.com/000/0/5765042/il_fullxfull.311957471.jpg

I can still smell the new crayons and the janitor’s cleaning solutions. Close your eyes. Can you?

God bless the teachers, staff, and students as they enter the brave new world of school with Covid-19. May they all stay safe and well!

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Boyfriends

I had a lot of boyfriends in elementary school. You weren’t “cool” if you weren’t “going” with someone.  Chasing each other on the playground and writing notes to each other was basically the extent of the relationship. We dared not hold hands or exchange kisses for fear of cooties. Boys and girls weren’t supposed to like each other, after all. 

Source


I remember a few, and I’ll just give their initials so they won’t die of embarrassment if by some weird chance they were to read this. I remember liking a boy in preschool who rode on the bus with me, all giggles and bouncing in the back seat from bumps in the road. That’s really all I remember about him, except in later grades we never really talked to each other. Our interests diverged, I suppose, as did our group of friends. MD played tuba in the band as I recall, and I played flute. In high school he became a goat-roper (cowboy) while I was just a nerd.

My first (or maybe second) grade boyfriend was actually in my swimming class in the summer. It’s hard to recall anything except that we chased each other on the playground during recess. I don’t think that relationship lasted very long. Go figure. Two seven-year-olds.  He did come by my workplace while I was in college and ask me if I was interested in sharing an apartment! There was also another boy that pestered me so much everyone thought he was my boyfriend but he wasn’t.  He was pretty much the class goof-off.  Sadly, JW passed away at a young age.

The next beau I recall is DC in fourth grade. I do remember writing notes with him, notes that consisted of “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” If he checked yes, then you were going together. He sat behind me in class and was a Cub Scout. He wore the cool blue shirt and gold scarf to school one day a week. I seem to remember he smiled a lot. Probably still does.  I do know he is still married to his high school sweetheart and has a beautiful family.

Source


That’s pretty much it. I guess there really weren’t a lot. I don’t recall any boyfriends in fifth or sixth grade. My parents never had to worry about setting a dating age for me, because no one ever asked me until I was a junior in high school. That’s me, number one nerd. I was too smart for boys to like me. 

That’s okay, though. I wound up with the best of the bunch.  JC and I have been together over 40 years, and I don’t have to chase him around the playground.

How about you?  Did you have boyfriends or girlfriends in elementary school?

Stay safe and well.


XOXO
Categories
Memoirs

Funerals are Weird

Maybe no one has dared to utter those words, at least in print or publicly, but there they are.  Don’t you agree?  Here in the U.S., we have certain customs we follow when someone dies.  I’m sure they all, like Christmas traditions, have their origins and seem reasonable to most, but nowadays you have to wonder.  Should the usual traditions and customs be followed during a pandemic?

Because they’re not.  Many are not holding traditional funerals; many are holding memorial services, and many times the service is held weeks or even months after the death.  Fewer people are attending funeral services these days, for fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus, and those who do attend wear masks.

My father-in-law recently passed away, and my mother-in-law honored his wishes by having him cremated, but she decided at the last minute to donate his body to science, in hopes that research into dementia like his could help someone in the future.  An honorable and noble decision, in my opinion.  She filled out the proper paperwork, the university picked up the remains, and ashes may be returned to her when the work at the university medical school is complete.  

So there was no need for a casket, no need for viewing, no need for graveside service, no need for interment.   Most of the immediate family attended the simple memorial service with a handful of friends and relatives, and there were two speakers and a couple of songs, and the service was over.

Family received the guests and then convened at my mother-in-law’s home where we visited for awhile and then left.  It was odd.  No food was brought to the house, no food was served after the service, and no flowers were delivered.

Still, I believe my father-in-law was honored, and my mother-in-law was provided closure after months and months of caregiving.  This pared-down version of a funeral seemed to make more sense to me.  Maybe the traditions of visitation, viewing the body in a casket, and going to the cemetery help to provide closure for many, but this simple memorial service was a good substitute.  

Goodbye, Jerry. We love you. May you rest in peace with God.


Have you attended a funeral or memorial service during the pandemic?  Please share your experience.  I would love to hear about it.

XOXO