Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fifty years of possibilities

Gravel crunched beneath my feet as I walked down the lane. My two sisters walked along side of me probably ignoring me as usual. The bridge creaked as the big, yellow bus drove over it. The door was cranked open by Lewis Kinnison, and I took my first step to school. That was fifty years ago.

Where does the time go? Fifty years that flew by with college, marriage, children, moves other states, career moves. Life moved pretty fast after that first step onto the bus. One little girl and a big step into life.

No one told me what the big step involved. Perhaps it would have been a bit overwhelming to know the immensity of change that one little step involved. It was a step into my independence. A step into leaving Neff Road behind. Perhaps had I know, I would have loved those around me a little bit more and captured more of that life on paper.

A picture of my first grade class. A bunch of scraggly kids all a bit shy of the camera. Where are they now? How I would love to see each and every one of them and tell them I care. I care about where they have been and what they have done. I care in a way that I didn't then. We all took that first step into a future. A future that drew us together then set us free to make the world better. Ah, just to sit and say, "I was just a kid then. Now I care."

We have lost some from those twelve years together. I will have no opportunity to see them and tell them that they mattered in my life. Those opportunities to know those people better is gone. In
two weeks our class will have our fifty years class reunion. New dialogue with old friends. A chance to learn more about those kids who traveled twelve years with me riding on a big yellow bus.

Class cliques disappear. The haves and have nots go away. We are all older and wiser. Children who grew up during a time when prejudice was challenged and peace was craved. Many years of separation that draw us all back together again, hopefully, wiser and eager to embrace one another. A time to learn and continue to grow.

A little girl stepped up onto a bus looking up at the kind face of Mr. Kinnison. A step that opened her to a new world. Fifty years later she still looks to possibilities.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Feel it in my bones

I feel it in my bones, this call of the woods. The birds scolding the invaders of their sanctuary. Spring shoots climbing from under the fall and winter blanket that warmed the earth beneath the snowfall. Dampness pervades each step. The air is rent by the crack of a twig. A deer? A rabbit? A yeti? When I lived on Neff Road, the crack of a twig could possibly mean that Doris Lavy was on the same trek. It was mushroom hunting time.

In just a couple of weeks, I will return to my roots. With only a few days to visit loved ones, walk my favorite road and poke around Greenville, I'm wondering if those spongy-headed gnome-like mushrooms will be popping up. How I would love to hunt them one more time. In fact, I would miss my class reunion to go looking for them if need be. I haven't been mushroom hunting since I was a teen living back the lane. It is important!

Probably the only thing that might compete with the hunt would be to sit by the pond with an old cane pole bearing a red and white bobber on the line. Again I could sit by the woods in the quiet of the day just sitting and watching. Doing what I had done dozens of time as a kid. The kid might be all grown up....well, more than all grown up....but still misses those times that I loved then and love now.

My sisters find it hard to return to Neff Road. I experience the pain of loss each time I return. The changes have sought to erase that which was before, but in the memories of we who lived there, the past remains the same.

I know that my dad felt the same when many of the trees were chopped down to allow more farm land. This countryside was not settled all that long ago if you look back in the number of generations. It was settled by a few who discovered the richness of the land then more came. Changes came with the advent cars and tractors. And, in my lifetime, it changed with the passing of the older generations to the influx of the new with bigger equipment and larger farms. Sometimes a house torn down to make room for more tillable land. Still with all the changes the mushrooms continued to grow and the fish still found life in the pond.

I guess it is silly the things we miss. Shoefly pie, barn swing, baby lambs, mushrooms and a fresh catch of fish. In a couple of weeks, the old days will wrap around me and keep me company. Sure would like a batch of fresh mushrooms.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Little yellow house

"Do you smell it?" my son James asked his sister.
"It smells like Grandma and Grandpa's house," she answered.

The little yellow house. Indeed it did smell like Mom and Dad house back the lane. It was an old house built in 1938. Surrounded by ancient trees on a half acre of lovely yard, the little house calls to all who see it. A porch on the front where Mom and Dad's old swing found a new home. A porch on the side of the house often holds a lazy dog and two toddlers. I feel at home whenever I enter the house. I find a nest I once left behind. My son has remodeled the little yellow house. A new kitchen, a finished basement, sparkling hardwood floors and still the creaking of an old house.

It is hard to leave a dream behind, especially one that has seen your sweat and tears, been the home of the major events of your life, heard the coos of your newborn twins. It is difficult to say good-bye.

James and Lisa are focusing now on the well-being of their children. The little yellow house sits in the wrong place. The elementary school where the children would go is slipping from an already low position. The middle school and high schools are equally low. It is time to look ahead for the success of the children. And, that is just what they are doing. I'm proud. And....a little sad.

The days of sitting on the front porch watching school buses and cars go by with the twins will be gone. Rolling down the hill, playing in the tree house, sitting in a beautiful house full of light and windows will be only memories. That is what life is made of. Memories. We gather them, we take them out once in a while and look at them, sometimes we can even feel them wrap around us. A slice of life.

The little house sold in one day. For the last couple of weeks we have been saying farewell. Change is good. It keeps us growing and allows us to learn. The little yellow house was a nest for us all. It was a place where we grew as a family. Now we work together for the best of the little ones to the next plateau. It is exciting and intriguing. New community. New house. New experiences. A growing experience for all.

Little yellow house. Thank you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The advocate

My friend has MS. She has been bedridden for most of her adult life. At seventy-five she can only lift her head a little and move a couple of fingers. She is my hero. A woman with a positive attitude and sense of humor. She never talks of her illness or feels sorry for herself. Her concern is always for others.

This week she had a heart attack complicated by pneumonia and massive bleeding from an ulcer that erupted when she was on the blood thinner. We thought we lost her twice. Her daughters are dear to me. We stood by her bed rubbing her arms and legs, holding her close and warming her with our love. The pneumonia is gone. Her heart is getting stronger. The blood thinner will be added again in a couple of days, and we pray she will not hemorrhage as before.

Throughout this process, I discovered something that bothered me so much that I need to talk about it. It has to do with the way we talk over the heads of those who are ill and those we care for. The way we talk to our adult friends and family over the heads of the children not really hearing what they say. I have always hated the kids' table. I was raised sitting with the adults and am ever so thankful that I was. I learned to talk to all ages and to listen. I knew what was important to my family and truly felt part of it. Respect. It doesn't have an age limit.

We all want to be heard. We all want a say as to our futures. We all want to be recognized and respected. Too often we talk around the older family members in the room. Those wonderful people who did the best they could to raise us.  We all want to be heard and seen. The attention we give others will indeed make a difference in the way others react to us.

The doctors and daughters talked about Tari's upcoming procedure. Her eyes were closed and her forehead wrinkled. The doctor asked if the girls had any questions. They asked their questions. I turned to Tari and asked if she had any questions. And, she did. We all need an advocate. When my father was dying, I was his advocate. When a grandchild is trying to be understood, I am that child's advocate. I will listen and do my best to serve them.

I know this isn't my usual column, but this is dedicated to my friend who is fighting valiantly for a longer time to spend with her family and friends. It is dedicated to the child who has no words to explain how he or she feels. It is dedicated to all of us who have a chance to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.