Warm Coats…

January 5, 2017

Were a given in childhood. Having no car we walked everywhere we went except for the occasional bus or taxicab ride…and whenever we rode with relatives. 

This year my ‘nice’ coat is being used. The coat was purchased six to eight years back and barely worn. I slipped it on one day and realized that it was a reminder of when my mother, sibling, and I traveled to and fro in our walkabout lives of yesteryear. A pretty fuchsia color with three large black buttons, it covers me well from the cold and wind as I make my way across parking lots from my car to varied buildings and purposes. As a child/teen, our coats were bought by Mama. J.C. Penney’s and Sears and Roebuck were the usual stores. Once, my father bought me one from Magic Mart. The only coat he ever purchased for me. I still remember it to this day. Brown with fur (synthetic?) around the collar, enlongated buttons instead of round, with little loops to fasten them.

Mama was the constant of everything in our lives including our coats. 

She made sure they fit and were well made, knowing they would need to shield us from the winter bite. Mittens, gloves, and hats were also purchased with money that she earned. We were a little family with limited resources, but it was never a question whether or not we would be properly attired for the winter. Mama did it. Without a coat drive, without a GoFundMe page, without a newsmedia story, without a sob story to co-workers…she did it with resolve…that came from God…and He ALWAYS MADE A WAY. 

I long for those days. Days of discipline and order. Days when people like my mother knew how to do things and did not relinquish to ‘experts’ on every single aspect of their lives. I long for them more and more. 

My coat keeps me warm…and so do the memories of my mother’s love…not through empty words, but through deeds. 

Paper, Rock, Scissors…

April 6, 2016

Mama showed me and my brother how to make a paper cup to drink water when we were very young. Little things keep coming back reminding me that my mother is very much alive through my memories of her. I’m going to make several and give to my grandson, telling him who showed me and let him make some. This will be a way to impart family history and a practical skill as well.

Rock is almost a groundcover in the yard. Toward the back there is a large patch that you can see from my kitchen window. Spring cleaning under the side yard tree revealed assorted ones among the leaves as I diligently filled the bags. I’ve decided to stake a claim here under the shade, armed with my lawn chair, small table, and summer afternoon relaxing.

Scissors work just fine for trimming grass near the patio and against the house. I crouch like a child interested in a dandelion and give a haircut to the green blades. It smells of a scent that no store, theater, television, computer, or museum can truly duplicate. The breeze blowing and the robins inspecting my work help to create a picture perfect landscape of life…one that is real, one that I actually live.

 

Last Night…

August 4, 2015

Was a dreamless night. I awoke even before my alarm sounded and dared not look at the time. If I look, I cannot go back to sleep. Staring into the cool darkness I turned over, adjusted my pillow, and pulled the covers around my throat. Sometime afterwards the chime brought me into morning.

This is a calm day for me. I let go of  more material things early this A.M. with the scheduled curbside pickup. I can still see the items waiting dutifully for their transportation to their new home, I feel no guilt. Some of the items are brand new, still in their original containers. Others, old as the hills, but with a good cleaning and if desired, some paint, can earn their keep. The main point is to let them do what they were created to do. Be useful.

I remind myself that things are just exactly that. They have no love, no hate, no anything. You can pick something up that brings you a thousand memories and it feels nothing. It sits silently in your hands with no where to go, except where you direct.

  I have no dirt from my childhood, yet I close my eyes and still smell its rich dark aroma. The tree that produced huge sweet pears so full of juice that it dripped down your chin is gone, but my mind conjures it up, complete with the large buzzing bumblebees, yellow jackets, and honey bees that feasted off the bounty for years. The year after we moved the tree died. I always said that it missed us. I still believe that. We grew up playing under it, our dog having his house nearby. After the dog died and we left, I think it realized it had done its work. It provided us with sweet smells, delicious pears, shade, and a sturdiness for years. We, in turn, had given it sounds of laughter and  joy, receiving the fruit with squeals of delight, playing many years around it throughout our young days. The time came to move on…and the tree had loved us in the way it could and we had loved it back.

Thoughts are in my mind…and I can carry them wherever I go, with no fear of them not having a place. For they are in my heart and I think of them often.

He rode a bicycle with a basket . I have no idea his age since I was just a child, but my best guess would be early to mid twenties. Mama would take us on Saturday’s to get my brother’s haircut where comic books were piled in the empty seats and an old dresser held a cash box and a glass jar of green liquid. The chairs lined the tiny shop in an “L” shape where the patrons sat and watched the barber clip and scissor his way through politics and local talk with them. If I read those comics once, I read them a hundred times. At this moment I’m remembering the Superman episode where he’s in the dimension where everything is backwards. Oh how I wish I had those comic books! Not so much for the price they might fetch, but for the feeling of predictability that my childhood held.

Little brown paper bags sat like soldiers in perfect formation on the cabinet against the side wall. Mama would buy us each a bag and we ate and read while the grownups talked. I always liked it when there were a lot of customers as that meant more time to read. And the drinks–glass bottles out of the machine at the end of the room where a good pull from the round slots and a quick burst of hiss from the opener was to enjoy the fizzy burn of sweet Coca Cola carrying away the salty goodness of the fresh roasted peanuts.

Sometimes the peanutman showed up on our time there and I would watch the interaction between him and the barber. It was a standing arrangement where he would carefully place the bags, then take his money from the barber and be on his way. I knew something was different about him, but I didn’t know what until I grew up. This gentle soul was most likely making his living from peddling his bicycle and goods because that was the depth of his ability.

My childhood was built on such things. People, places, and things were the order of the day AND THEY WERE ORDERLY. The barber is gone, along with the little shop with the green liquid and comic books. The peanut man rides no more except down the lane of my memory, but I can tell you those days were not just peanuts. They were the making of memories that are worth their weight in gold.

Christmas Memories…

December 23, 2012

Being poor in my childhood  was no excuse. We always had a tree. Sometimes real, sometimes a hand me down white flock with a color dial or shiny aluminum that took on a bit of color with the decorations.

My mother would stand in a chair hanging garland across our tiny low-ceiling living room. Once the giant X was secure, she carefully tossed silver icecicles making her way to all four corners. After school I would walk in the front door greeted by a shining hope, the decorations bidding me a gentle welcome home in the opened door breeze.

The coffee table’s glass top was covered with wrapping paper and a display of assorted Christmas characters took center stage. Ribbon candy with green and red stripes sat in the clear candy bowl waiting its turn to bring sweetness to the season.

When we were very young, my sibling and I would dance around the living room to a 45 record entitled The Reindeer Dance (if memory serves correct). It included a stance on the hassock and we would laugh ourselves silly.

Mama would try her hand at divinity and sometimes it worked, sometimes not. She said it had to be a clear day with low humidity to get a good batch. I waited for the fudge myself, as that was my favorite.

At night we would play Christmas music and I would stare into the lighted tree  and envision all the happenings in the songs that played right down to the last note where Rudolph is leading Santa’s sleigh, delivering toys all over the world.

Charlie Brown, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty The Snowman were regular rituals as the little television held me tight with the stories that I knew by heart. In seventh grade I was introduced to Charles Dickens by way of “A Christmas Carol”. The final classic I continue to watch today is “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

Layer upon layer through the years Christmas has built memories. Those that show up each season just like family and old friends.

Most important, riches come from treasures of the mind and heart, not from a box or shopping bag.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.