Sunday, October 29, 2017

Another Move

In 1965 (or maybe late 1964) we moved to the James house on the west side of the small town of Van.  The old rental was basically a four-room house with the later addition of a bathroom and a closet converted into a tiny bedroom.   There were no hallways in the house, and the large central room between the living room and kitchen served as a bedroom for us three kids.  Much to my mother’s delight an old upright piano had been left in that room as well, so she got to indulge in her love of music.  The kitchen, where we would gather at lunchtime—or dinnertime, as we Southerners called the midday meal--with our daddy who came home from work for a hot meal, sat at the back of the kitchen.

Me on the left with my baby sister Sharon and brother Allen in front of the James house.

My brother and I entertained ourselves indoors and out with his metal pedal car, his plastic green army men, my baby dolls, and the neighbor’s kids.  The Hough family lived in a house on the other side of a wooded thicket of chinaberry trees next to our house, where a trail had been worn between the houses before we moved there.  There were several kids of multiple ages who lived there, but my most vivid memory is of a turtle they had, that they tried to convince us was going to be put in turtle soup for everyone to eat.  I feared them more than liked them because they seemed rough and a little out-of-control for my sheltered taste.

Me and Sharon hanging on the swing set in the side yard.

One of my favorite things about living there was what happened when we had lots of rain.  The dirt driveway in front of the house would fill with massive mud puddles—or at least they seemed massive to us, enticing us to wade and play in them as if we had just been granted our own private swimming hole.  Of course, Mama didn’t like it and we were in big trouble if she happened to catch us. 

Me on the donkey with neighbor teen.  Note the mud puddles in the background.

Here is where I learned to play by myself outside.  There was a large cedar tree I would climb into that hid me from everyone else, but it was so scratchy I didn’t do it very often.  Looking at the large cedar tree on our property now I can’t imagine how I did that!  There was also a thorny thicket on one side of the house that I would pretend was a house with various rooms in it, and I would wander around it making up stories as I walked.  I had to be careful not to get stuck with the thorns, though.  I dropped a little plastic clown, a Cracker Jack prize, out in the yard while playing one evening and never did find it.  I was heartbroken.

That house also had a huge exhaust fan in the back that was designed to pull air through the house during hot weather.  No air conditioning for us yet.

Next:  my public school years begin, and I survive measles.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Hang on, Mama!

Step on the brakes!  Your baby has made it all the way to his last year of school.  This is the year you have been working toward, the culmination of all those years of trudging through his childhood, buying that mountain of school supplies every August just to find out that by October he was all out, buying school clothes sometimes several times a year because he just Would. Not. Stop. Growing.  Not to mention those endless nights of homework, after school practice, ball games, and the myriad other activities that keep parents on the road seven nights a week.  What happened to not scheduling activities on church nights?

Image result for graduation

Here you are, in the last year of her school life, navigating cap and gown orders, graduation invitations, and senior pictures.  She likely has her driver’s license so you don’t have to be the driver any more.  Your angst at getting in the car again for another trip to school has been replaced by the worry that she will be in an accident in her own car or yours.  You don’t know all her friends any more, much less their parents.  You have to trust her to make her own decisions, because that, after all, is what you raised her to do.  She doesn’t need you as much now, or possibly she needs you more, if only in the background as she tries her wings.

Brake and brake often.  Savor these last few months of their childhood.  After graduation they may leave your nest for good, like my oldest child did.  As I happily celebrated his graduation and helped him prepare to move to an apartment and go to college 100 miles away, I forgot to brake.  I forgot to hold on.  It’s been fifteen years and he has never come back, except for visits that are way too short.

My son and his friends gathered around our dining table.  He's in the white shorts and blue shirt. 
I was fortunate enough to teach in the same high school he attended, and one of my fondest memories is watching him coming down the hall with his friends to greet me with their own unique salutation.  They were full of youth and energy and they made me laugh.  How forlorn the halls were the next year without Matt and his friends.

I recall the many nights when he and his friends would crowd around our dining room table talking and laughing.  I never thought I would have enough food for them all, but they managed to entertain themselves and get their fill of snacks. 

Hubby and daughter Natalie on her graduation trip to Pensacola Beach
These times, though often making for worrisome late nights, were short-lived.  Far too soon he was gone, finished college, married, and now has a child of his own.  No regrets, only the knowledge that I didn’t realize how much more I should have savored each moment.  My daughter graduated a few years later, a year early in fact, and it still felt like a whirlwind.  Natalie and her friends were fun as well, but soon they scattered as life has them do, leaving me with an empty nest but a heart full of wonderful memories. 

So hang on, mamas and daddies of high school seniors.  It’s a fast and furious year, and it takes no prisoners.