Friday, February 26, 2016

How on earth did we survive growing up?!

The following list of items showed up on my Facebook today.  The list must be British and aimed at folks two generations younger than me.   So, I decided to post my own comments to each question best I can.  Feel free to add yours as well.   

How on earth did we survive growing up?! 

1. Our sandwiches contained leftover roast chicken; we didn’t have fridges in classrooms or ice bricks in our lunch boxes, but we didn’t get food poisoning.
  Actually, our sandwiches were mostly peanut butter and jelly or banana (yes bananas and mayo on bread) All the rest is true.
2. We rode bikes without helmets or adult supervision on bike paths but we mostly just ended up with scarred knees.
What bike paths?  We rode through woods and cornfields when at home and the city streets and sidewalks when at Grandma's.  The skinned knees are right but I also got a couple of chipped teeth as well.  
3. Our mothers wiped our faces with spit on a hanky not an antibacterial wipe. Not just mothers.  That was one main reason women of my childhood wore aprons.  By the end of a day it would be so full of snot, sweat, blood and tears that by todays standards would have given us a dozen different contagious bugs.  
4. Truck shop was sausage rolls and cream donuts but kids were wiry and fast. Afraid that my family never used truck stops.   If traveling we left home with a picnic basket and would spread a blanket in any roadside area that struck my fathers fancy.  
5. Our parents rarely knew our teachers’ names, let alone their NAPLAN prep strategy. Remembering teachers names was easy.  They were all called "Sister."  What the heck is a NAPLAN anyway? 
6. When our teachers would whack us, we wouldn’t tell our parents for fear of getting punished again, so we avoided trouble in the first place.  This is so true.  Catholic nuns were professionals when it came to ruler swats and tossing erasers. But, the telltale bruises always gave us away.  But, we all feared Mom's punishments more.  
7. Our trampolines were netless and sometimes hosed with water and a squirt of Palmolive for extra slipperiness. Afraid I never saw a trampoline in a yard until I was old enough to have grandkids.  
8. What was said on the playground stayed on the playground. Actually, that was not true.  It was whispered about by the girls and bragged on by the boys until the whole school knew. 
9. We went on camps and excursions without 18 forms to be signed and witnessed. Nope field trips were not even on the radar when I was in school.  My first was the Senior class trip and that was a picnic held in a state park with some horseback riding.  
10. As toddlers, we rode in supermarket trolleys without the padded trolley liner thingy.  Trolleys, whats that.? Our stores did not get carts until the late fifties and they were to small to hold a kid plus the groceries.  
11. Angry teachers were treated with caution. We just prayed for a nice one next year.  So True. 
12. Weekends were about our parents’ social lives. As kids, we played murder in the dark while parents talked with their friends and forgot we existed. Don't know what "murder in the Dark" is but we would chase fireflies, huddle under the porch and tell ghost stories, and play tag or something similar.  We always stayed as far from the adults as possible to delay our bedtime.  
13. Generally, we went to the closest school, not the best one.  You got that right. 
14. Kids got scared before parent-teacher interviews, not teachers. This is also very true.  
15. We got ourselves to Saturday sports and told tall tales about how the win was won. Nope, there were no organized sports in my generation.  We had pickup games in the nearest bare field. But, the tale tales part is true.
16. Helping with the washing up was as important as homework. More so in some cases.   We each had our signed task and you did not leave the kitchen until all was done.  
17. Birthday parties were fairy bread and Fanta, not fruit kebabs and face painting.   I don't remember anyone having birthday parties until we turned 16 and then it was a family affair.  I do remember getting invited to one rich girls birthday when we lived in town. She had a jukebox for dancing and cake and ice-cream.  But, every birthday we had home-made ice cream and cake for dinner. Plus, we got a pass on our chores that day.   What a treat that was.  
 18. When a kid was injured, people felt sorry for her parents. They didn’t ask what the hell were they thinking letting her climb that tree anyway. So true.  Oh! The stories I could tell about getting injured.  With 13 kids in my family someone was always getting hurt.  There was a car fender through a thigh, a finger severed when caught in a storm door, a head cracked on a train track, a fall off a cliff, not to mention all the falls out of trees and hay lofts, and cuts and scraps from normal play.
19. Cubby houses were built by kids not bought from Toys R Us.  We had tree houses, and rooms made in the stacks of hale bales, little hiddy holes dug under the large bushes in the yard and of course a scrap medal shed buried in the woods.  

20. If you did badly in a test, you got a talking to, not a cuddle. Oh so true. 

21. A pocket-knife was a perfectly acceptable gift for a 10-year-old. Every boy and man I knew carried a pocket knife and so did most of the women.

22. If any one got air conditioning in their bedroom, it was mum and dad. That was true for all my friends but I was married and gone from home for six years before I got to have AC in my house and my parents still did not have it in theirs. 

23. Family holidays came before kids’ sporting schedules. That is still true in our family today. But as mentioned above we did not see organized sports until the late seventies or later.  

24. Your dad’s desire to watch Four Corners trumped your need to watch Battlestar Galactica. Yes my parents controlled what and when we watched TV. But, I was 10 years old before we got our first TV set. 

25. A teacher could put mercurochrome on a scraped knee without obtaining our parents’ permission and completing an ‘incident report’. Heck, we had a nun that would do stiches if needed. And, they did not call the parents either.  They learned about boo boos when the kids got home from school.  

26. A playdate was walking to a friend’s house, ringing the doorbell and saying, ‘Can Cathy come and play?’  So True.  But, it was usually a bike ride away. 

27. School excursions happened without a ‘risk assessment’ and a two to one kid / parent volunteer ratio. As stated on #9 we did not have school trips.  Occasionally, we would be taken on a nature walk around town and every spring we would go pick dandelions to make a salad. 

28. There was no padding on netball hoop posts. Actually, there were no hoops at any of the kids houses that I knew and none in school until we got to high school. 

29. No one wrote names on cups at parties. That was because we did not use disposable cups back then. 

30. You could offer your friend a bite of your hot dog. Yep, or any other food.  We always shared. 

31. If the bus driver yelled at you, the bus driver didn’t get in trouble, you did.  So true.

32. If you didn’t make a team, you tried harder or tried something else. Oh you would make the team but you might be the last one picked.  We had no organized sports just pick up games. 

33. Pass the parcel had one winner. No idea what this is. But, spin the bottle was something else.  

34. There was one kind of milk. It was full cream and it was delicious. So true. When we lived in town the milk was delivered to the door in glass bottles and when we lived in the country it came straight from the cow.  

35. Meat was bought at the butcher, and was packed without a use-by date. Our parents used their noses to tell if the mince was off.  Heck, I remember having to scrap  off the top layer of ground beef before cooking. Nothing went to waste.  

36. Getting one present on your Christmas wish list was good result. You bet ya.  And you had to share it with your siblings besides.  

37. Drives of longer than an hour happened without supplies of rice crackers and juice. So true. And without I pods and Dvd players. We always  sang songs together or played a game of I Spy. 

38. Going to the shops/church/the nursing home to visit Nan was boring as hell but could be endured without an iPad.  We always had to carry a book with us when visiting and if we were lucky we would get a coloring book.   

39. School holidays were about not being at school, not soccer workshops, art classes and pony camp. School holidays were always my mothers favorite time to have us deep clean our rooms.  No playing until the job was done. 

40. Being tired was no excuse for being rude. There was never an excuse for being rude. It would often result in a punishment. 
41. You had to do something great to get a ‘student of the week’ award. Not just show up at school.  We did not have awards like this in my schools. Unless you won the spelling bee of course. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Life's Chain Reaction

If you have ever watched an episode of Elementary you have seen the Rube Goldberg machine that is in the opening credits.  If not, then perhaps you have seen dominos lined up on edge and when one was bumped it started a chain reaction that caused all the others to fall.  It’s amazing how one small action can result in a cascade of fallout.   

I’m afraid that is often the story with me. One simple mistake with the letter “R” on my first day of high school set into motion a chain reaction that has not ended to this very day.   

 There was only one Catholic High School in the county where I grew up, so students came from all over.  On the first day of freshman year every student was a stranger unless they rode your bus.  The school was about a forty-five minute bus ride from our church and school.   All the grades rode the same bus to the grade school. There, the older kids transferred to a bus that drove them to the high school. If the afternoon bus that transported the high school students home was running late the entire grade school was kept waiting to go home.  A late morning bus would make all of the high schoolers late for school.   
On my first day of high school, my bus was late, so I entered my homeroom just as the bell was ringing.  The only vacant desk was the one by the door.  Before I could be seated Sister handed me a clipboard with instructions to record the names of each student on the matching desk in the seating chart on the clipboard. This was used to take roll each morning.   
Nervously, I made my way around the room and in the process made one little mistake that was to haunt me for the rest of my life.  It also insured I would have a hard time making friends that year.  One of the girl’s surname was “Strunk.” I left out that one little letter “R” when listing her name.  It was weeks before Bea could get the nun to stop calling her “Bea Stunk”.  Beatrice became my instant enemy that morning, and swore I would regret that fatal error for the next four years.  Beatrice was a very pretty and popular girl and she soon corralled all her friends to assist in making my life a living hell.  They never passed up an opportunity to say something derogatory about me or to cause me some embarrassment. 
One day just as I reached the top of the stairs going down to the first floor I felt someone’s hands on my back and realized I was being pushed.  I tumbled down that long flight of stairs and landed in a heap at the bottom where I could not move.  The principal, Sister Superior sent me to see a doctor.  I had a bad sprain in my lower back.  For several months a janitor drove me to weekly visits with a local chiropractor.  During this time I was exempt from attending gym class.   
My first day back in gym class we were assigned to do wheelbarrows around the gym.  We were paired up and took turns walking on our hands around the gym while our partner held our feet making us look like a wheelbarrow.   On my turn we had barely covered half the distance when my partner, and a friend of Bea’s, lifted my feet up high and flipped my body over my head.  Again, I was sprawled on the floor unable to get up. Back to the doctor I went, and for most of the year, I had weekly trips to the chiropractor.  Once the school stopped paying for my visits, my Mom immediately put an end to them. Mom believed all chiropractors were quacks who sucked you dry of money.  
To this day I have a very touchy back and have to be very careful how I move. Thanks, to my own klutziness I have had two more serious falls down stairs adding to my injury and causing me to be hospitalized.  But, unlike my mother, I do find seeing a chiropractor helpful. There were times when my chiropractor was a Godsend.   
The nuns never learned who pushed me down the steps, and the girl who flipped me claimed it was an accident so no one was ever held accountable.  
During one recess, while at my locker, someone said something that became the final straw for me.  I got into a loud and nasty confrontation with them.  Bea stepped in and hit me. The fight was on.  All the students backed off and gave us room.  I was getting just about as much as I was giving and both of us were badly bruised.  Just as one of the Nuns stepped in to stop the fight, I managed to get Bea in a neck hold with one hand and grabbed a locker door for support with the other.  The entire wall of lockers (that someone failed to anchor during construction) pulled out of the wall and landed on top of the three of us; Bea, the nun and me. 
Once the lockers were lifted off us, and it was determined no one was hurt, we were marched to the principal’s office. Seems Mother Superior was  well informed on Bea’s feud with me.  Sister let Bea know she held her responsible for both my injuries.  She ordered Bea to call off her posse immediately.  We were both ordered to go to confession.  Bea’s penance was  to spend all of her study halls, for the rest of the year, in the chapel saying her rosary.  I had to write, “I will not fight” three hundred times.
Because of my omission of that one simple little alphabet letter back in 1960, the dominos are still falling.  I’ve had fifty years of pain and suffering and more spent  in medical bills than is possible to tally.  In fact, trying to avoid back surgery, I just spent the last six weeks in physical therapy thanks to another flare up of that old injury.  

Like Rube Goldburg's complex chain of events, my flubbing one name resulted in assaults, meanness and  a host of injuries both physical and mental. Several of which are with me still.  I can only thank God that people like Bea are seldom encountered.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What is this world coming too?

I have read several things this week that have prompted this post. They included a story about a boy who shot a bird for chirping too loud and several towns that wants to ban train whistles and flapping flags because they make too much noise. Then there was a traffic accident were the looky-Lou's kept stopping and actually getting out of their cars to take pictures preventing the police from doing their jobs and the traffic from moving along. 

Flags flying just across the street from my house.  Photo
taken from my back porch. 
What is this world coming too? Are we all so overworked and stressed that we have to overreact to everything around us? Have we all become so self-centered, developed such a strong “my way or else” attitude, that we can no longer see the big picture? Have we become so jaded by all the violence and mayhem in the world that we must feed on the suffering of others? What has happen to the hard earned rights of a nation that so many have fought and died to protect?

I guess (no I ‘m sure) I am grateful that I was able to live the lion’s share of my life in a simpler world. A world, where the sound of birds chirping, flags flapping and trains whistling; did not send the public into revolt. A world where a traffic accident would have people bowing their head in prayer for the victim, and made physically ill by sights they could not avoid.

I’m grateful that I do not have to be a young person facing life today. I’m grateful that my children were raised in a time when they could be kids and play was still fun created from make believe and imagination. A time, when every horrible action in the world, was not displayed in bold color on a television or computer screen for all to see. A time when they did not have to be afraid of the motives of every adult they met.

Yes, if I could choose, I would want the world I grew up in to be the world that all today’s children would also grow up in. And, when I am the one in charge I will see to it that is exactly the kind of world they will have. Until then I will do my best to improve my little corner of the world, and I think I will start by working on getting my town council to revoke the no train whistles ordinance they passed a few years ago.  

Friday, February 12, 2016


For the last two nights I have suffered from a bit of insomnia.  At one point, my mind wandered to the topic of “superpowers.”  Thanks to a Google search, I now know there are more than ten thousand  superheroes (in print and film) recorded on one website with many times more superpowers.  Their top one hundred list, contains many powers I have never  heard of.  The list has gone way beyond Elizabeth Montgomery’s ability to twitch her nose as Samantha on the old TV show, “Bewitched”.  

As to my insomnia fighting thoughts on superpowers,  sure, I wish I had one, doesn’t everyone? My thoughts though, have run more along the lines of how much better the world would be if those powers were allocated only for good and each of us actually had at least one. 

If each of us just had the ability to stop pain in others, for instance, how much happier this world would be. If we could start with things like natural disasters, poverty and cancer and move down that mountainous list to items like anger, corruption, narcissism, and even splinters; we could possibly live in a world where power doesn’t corrupt and governments really were “for the people” not just the privileged few. Wouldn’t it be nice if self confidence was never in danger of becoming  narcissism, or anger getting out of control.  A world where everyone followed the eleventh commandant to love one another as Christ loved us.

Just for today, however, I would love to twitch my nose and find myself in a brightly colored  cabana, sipping an umbrella drink and reading a romance novel on some deserted tropical island.          

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Home Place

Recently, while going through some old memory sticks I came across this photo of an abandoned old house I saved many years ago.  It had been posted on Flicker by Pat Henson. I hope he won't mind my using it here. While a bit more aged and weathered it looks like the “home place” of my memory.  In fact, Mr. Henson listed the location of this house as being near Ozark, Alabama which happens to be in the same county where my home place used to stand.

The photo reminded me of the last trip I made to the land of my mother’s birth.  Last December hubby and I drove my 90 year old mother to Alabama for the celebration of her sister’s 97th birthday.  That car trip prompted conversations about my husband's first trip south.  It was shortly after our wedding so I was a new bride traveling to the wedding of a cousin with my new husband and my mother. It was the first time my husband would meet all my Alabama kinfolk. The poor man had no inkling of what was in store for him.

We traveled through places with names like Waverly Hall, China Grove, Camp Gray Loop and Pine Level; to meet people with names like Uncle Brother, Aunt Sister, Aunt Tump, Uncle Dink, Bubba and Sally Jill. If that weren't enough,  hearing stories about how marriage made one cousin’s wife his step sister or a family feud that lasted sixty years with no end in sight; I thought would do him in for sure.

However, my hubby is a trooper and he fared better on that trip than I did. Truth be told, I found the trip somewhat disheartening.  We have made that same trip eight more times since then and my sense of dread has grown with each one.   So many of the familiar things I associate with the South, things that always give me a warm feeling while connecting the area and the people with my mother’s upbringing and my sense of family, seemed to be disappearing at an alarming rate.
My earliest memories are of the old house that stood on the family farm. The farm had been in my mother’s family since well before the civil war. It was where my mother was born and we call it “the home place”. The house is long gone and the old farm subdivided, but the legacy of the place continues to live in the lives of those who once called it home.

I’ve been told that my great-great-great grandfather had a hundred slaves who tended the fields and cared for the large house. The place was never a grand old plantation but at one time it was a rather impressive farm. Hard times had changed the “home place” by the last time I set eyes on it.

My Grandmother spent her entire life on that farm. Her children say she was born, married and died in the same room. This was the room where my mother and her siblings were born, and in which one sister and a brother died. That ramshackle, tin-roofed house hadn’t seen a coat of paint in decades, sat on a patch of bare red clay that was swept clean instead of being mowed. The house was surrounded by cotton fields, fruit orchards and sharecropper’s shanties; one of which was my home during part of my young life.

I often think about that farm and how it shaped the lives and characters of the people who lived there for more than a century. It continues to reverberate in our lives to this very day. The last time I visited, the front porch was propped on concrete blocks, daylight could be seen through the floorboards and wind rustled the curtains. Laundry was done in a wringer washer on the back porch while cats napped under the steps. Aunt Florence, dressed in a flour sack dress and bib apron, was still placing pans full of large fluffy biscuits in the oven each morning by dawn; and a good day would end with the family gathered on the veranda with the scratchy sounds of the “Opery” playing on an old Zenith radio in the background. If we were lucky, on a clear Saturday night, we could pick up the sounds of a baseball game as far away as St. Louis, we children waited to turn the crank on the ice cream churn, tossed cigarette butts occasionally sent blazing red streaks flying through the air and the women swapped the latest recipe or gossip from town.

My mother left her southern family and moved to Missouri with her husband and four small children more than sixty years ago. For decades, I have gone with her back to the Southland to visit her family. Gone now are visits with very prim and genteel southern ladies. Great Aunts in lacy collars with linen hankies tucked up their sleeve and smelling of Jasmine. Ladies who served fig jam made from the trees growing in their yards, at tables set with translucent porcelain cups and silver tea pots. 

This last trip was the first where shop keepers and service personnel all seemed to have lost their distinctly southern way of speaking; due in part I suspect, to television’s influence diluting regional speech patterns. Once small and charming towns are losing their historic charisma as they quadruple in size and city limit signs move miles in all directions. Fields that once held endless rows of white cotton or expanses of peanut plants are now filling up with fast food franchises and tanning salons. Stately old homes are losing their charming colors, character and beauty behind layers of vinyl siding. Verandas and lovely wraparound porches are falling into disuse. That wonderfully southern habit of lazy evenings visiting over icy tumblers of sweet tea is being replaced by the harried schedules of modern households encased in air conditioning. But, the most disheartening part of this last trip was the realization that the southern half of my family is slowly slipping away from not only the northern branch but from each other.

As often happens in families, once the parents are gone the children who are cousins, tend to lose frequent contact with each other. It is also regrettable that so many extended families are separated by the death of the senior siblings. Divorce is separating parents from adult children that have taken the other parent’s side or refuse to accept a new spouse. Unfortunately, I see these things happening in my family and feel sad that I can do very little to change any of it.

And finally, I fear that due to my advancing age, health concerns, and the ever growing cost of travel it won’t be long before future visits to my southern roots  may have to be curtailed, causing a loss of my sense of self and family unity.

I fear that before long, memories will be all that is left of the South of my youth:  a young girl playing with her brothers under a cottonwood tree, my mother working her way down a long row of cotton, cousins close together whispering secrets in the shade of a pecan tree and me counting the many doors in a large stately house before stepping onto the veranda through the parlor window for sugar cookies and lemonade, with Great-Aunt Thersey. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Longevity, Hope and Inspiration

One summer when I was ten my Mother had me making and selling pot holders door to door around our small town. There was a lady who lived several houses down from us whose door I had avoided for most of that summer.  Finally, one day I got up the nerve to knock on that door.  The old lady who lived there had the reputation among the neighborhood kids of being a descendent of the “wicked witch” that chased after Hansel and Gretel. 

I will admit that I found everything about Mrs. Kelly and her home to have an other worldly sense about it.  She lived in a small three room house with a weathered picket fence and several outbuildings. Neither the buildings or the fence had seen a coat of paint in decades. The yard was overgrown with all types of unusual plants some of which appeared to have dried up years before but always came back to life each spring. Mrs. Kelly and I formed a bond that first meeting, and from then on I would drop by as often as I could manage. She must have been in her late eighties at the time but I don’t recall ever asking her age. Mrs. Kelly’s house was dark, and had a strange smell that I could never completely identify. A combination of wood smoke, coal oil, the dried herbs hanging in bundles from the kitchen ceiling, furniture polish, rheumatism medicine  were just a few. The front room was very formal and had large chairs that felt like they were made from some type of coarse animal hair. The drapes were dark and heavy. Years later I learned they were made of a brocaded velvet. Everything in the house was old and worn but it all had a well scrubbed and polished look about it. 
This is not Mrs. Kelly.
Taken from 
The Spirit of Ireland by Lynn Doyle
Published by B.T Batsford Ltd in 1935

A large coal oil lamp hung from the ceiling of the kitchen and there was an old iron stove against one wall used for both heating and cooking. Beside the stove a much dented cooper pot held big chunks of coal and an old trunk, missing the top, was full of logs. The table was always covered with a stiff pressed linen cloth and there was a small loom in the corner that I learned was used for tatting lace. Mrs. Kelly was a short, thin lady who spoke with a thick brogue and wore thread-bare cotton dresses with a knitted shawl around her shoulders. The corners of the shawl crisscrossed her chest and were tucked into an ankle length apron at her waist. The dingy apron, securely tied at her waist, was used for everything from securing her shawl, carrying vegetables and flowers from her garden, to taking hot pots off the stove. Her snow white hair was in a long braid down her back or occasionally coiled in a crown around her head. 

She had lived in her little ramshackle house since long before the area was incorporated into the town and before all the modern post war housing developments had built up around her. She continued to live on her little piece of ground the way she had since she was a new bride more than sixty years earlier. Since we were living in the middle of town in the 1950’s, she was considered to be an eccentric for choosing not to have electric service in her home.  Her only concession to the modern times was a cast iron hand pump beside her kitchen sink.  All I ever saw of her bedroom was the stack of handmade quilts that peeked through the crack of her door.

Mrs. Kelly was constantly shooing off the kids that wanted to take a short cut through her garden, pick the flowers along her fence, toss rocks at the cutout moon on her privy or chase her chickens; so she developed the reputation of being a wicked old witch. 

She and her house were certainly different. But, the woman that I got to know just wanted to be left alone to live life on her own terms. She seldom left her place but never seemed to need anything from anyone either.  To me she was a warm, friendly, lonely old lady who liked to serve tea from a cracked ironstone pot covered with a quilted rooster she called a cozy. We had honey in our tea and little sandwiches she made from thin slices of home baked bread with the crust cut off. She told me stories about growing up poor in Ireland and what it was like to come here as a immigrant . She talked about her dead husband and the babies she lost and the children she outlived. She showed me how she made the tatted lace she sold to a bridal shop in New York City. But, mostly she just reminisced and I listened. 

Mrs. Kelly was the first of several women like her to come into my life over the years. These were women who managed to live to a very old age and remain in good health. Active, quick witted, sharp tongued women who faced life without flinching. Most grew up dirt poor, worked hard and learned early how to be creative at making do. 

What an inspiration these ladies have been in my life. I just hope I inherit their longevity and hope I can hold on to a fraction of their energy and creativity.   

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Those Ooh or Aah Moments in Life

There are times in my life when I've had one of those ooh or aah moments. They can be few and far between, but, they are certainly life changing. I have had several of those moments so earth shaking they will stay with me for the remainder of my life.
Image result for oohFirst, I should explain what I am referring to as an “Ooh or Aah” moment. Ooh moments are always bad. You make a wrong decision or something happens that involves you and all of your senses are suddenly shouting. You know nothing good is going to come from it. In fact, dread climbs on your back and hitches a ride for weeks (even years) waiting for all the fallout to subside.
Image result for aahAah moments are always good.  They also happen more frequently than their trouble loving cousins.  Aah moments however, can be so fleeting you almost miss them entirely; making it hard to recognize and savor them. A faint smell, a smile on a loved one’s face, or the warmth of a soft caress, may be all that is left behind to let you know you have been part of a magical moment.  Occasionally, the aah moments will linger and be captured so the feeling can be recalled to enjoy over an over again.  Sometimes, you get a relaxed, everything-is-perfect feeling that has you wishing you could make time stand still. 

My first serious ooh moment, that I recall, happened when I was eleven. It started out as the worst thing that could happen to a young city girl and was the catalyst for another even more serious ooh moment ten years later. I learned that ooh moments can come strung out like beads on a chain with all of them traced back to some original ooh moment that was the silent trigger.
One day my parents told us kids we were moving to a larger house in the country. I was a smart child and I had figured out that we would be moving, I just never expected my parents would drag us all off to a house, that had no indoor toilet. Or, that we would be attending a four room school, of all things. I was devastated. I knew that, due to the isolated setting and my mothers loss of helpful neighbors, I as the oldest, would soon be changing my name to Cinderella. I cried myself to sleep every night for weeks before and after that move.
My dread of the life I would have after the move was well founded. Moving changed the life of every member of the family forever. For me, the seeds of resilience, adaptability, and personal growth were planted, but a life-long struggle with the weeds that choked my self-worth, and personal harmony also became firmly rooted.
After our move the family grew from seven to thirteen children. My parent’s struggle to care for their growing brood added considerably to the responsibilities my oldest brothers and I had to take on. The effort to be myself and not the person everyone else expected me to be, was what led me to my second more serious ooh moment.
In the fall of 1965 I met a very handsome young man. I convinced myself I was in love and he was the “knight-in-shining-armor” who would rescue me from my Cinderella life of servitude. We were married in the summer of 1966. As the saying goes, “the blush was hardly off the rose” before I realized I had jumped from the frying pan into the blazing fire.
The problem was that my handsome knight was a male chauvinist with both feet firmly planted in the Nineteenth century. While I did not expect we would become hippies (it was the sixties after all) I was expecting to rank higher than his sunshine yellow Impala. My second major ooh moment occurred one day in 1967 when I realized I was pregnant and any chance of achieving the life I dreamed of was forever lost.
Aah moments in my life became indelibly etched in my memory because they were rare. I am not referring to moments like the first time you held your new baby, watched your child’s first dance recital or saw your daughter being led down the aisle on your husband's arm. Yes, those are aah moments, but, I am referring to moments that are unexpected and send warm tingles clear to your toes. For example: you are out walking and stop to watch a spectacular sunset. That is a nice moment. If the person with you, put his arm around you and said, “what a lovely sunset, I am so glad I was able to share it with the person I love.” that is an aah moment to remember. One that will probably have you walking an inch off the ground for a while besides.
Recently, my husband and I were sitting in the office of our investment banker. While she was busy entering our information into her computer , my dear husband, leaned over and whispered into my ear “ I wish I was free to nibble on your earlobe right now.” Now that is an aah moment that had me floating on air all the way home. Other similar moments are the reason that the aah moments in my life are certainly on the increase.
You will have to forgive me now because I am going to end this and go tell that sweet man how much I love him.