Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mother's Day hubbub

Ah, yes, Mother's Day is coming up. Now I am all about celebrating moms, especially since I am one. However, all the hubbub around thanking mom is terribly overrated. In fact, I find it embarrassing.

Working for a card company teaches you much about the industry as well as the customers. I am a fly on the wall when it comes to shoppers. First of all, and a bit of a complaint, parents turn their kids loose in the card section. Little ones pull cards out of the slots and trample them. Or, they take them to their parents in big bunches, at which point, the parents stuff them into another slot. Cards are damaged. Kids run free. I smile and mumble a before grabbing the cards and searching for their homes. Next came the people who are unhappy that the cards are too mushy. These people do not have kindly feelings towards the intended recipient. I definitely send them to the generic Mom's Day cards. Sometimes I am asked to choose a card for some fellow who does not want to be shopping let alone picking out a card. I could pull out a card from the dog, and he would say, "That's great! Thanks."  After Mom's Day, all remaining cards will be tossed. Thousands and thousands of cards, paper products and envelopes cannot be recycled and will just be tossed. Ah, the sweet days we celebrate.

Growing up back the lane, we did not celebrate much. Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter were about it. Birthdays were underplayed. And, I never remember Mom or Dad taking us to buy a card or flowers. Just not something we had the money for or did. When I received my first bouquet for my first Mother's Day, I was thrilled. I did not do much to deserve them. I just went through nine months of wonder and discomfort and then birthing a child the size of a large ham. Never dreamed I could get flowers for it. My first child was born in a hospital that had a Stork Club for first time parents. The evening meal after her birth was dinner for two consisting of steaks with little plastic storks poked into them, baked potatoes and champagne. Yes, indeed, I had been deemed special.

My children became more aware of Mother's and Father's Day when they had children. Suddenly they were aware that I was a mother....and theirs to boot! Grandchildren drew pictures. Outlines of hands and feet. Pieces of paper glued with an occasional squiggly eye here and there that bobbed when I moved the paper. In preschool and kindergarten they made things out of clay and paper flowers. Yes, I was loved, and all I had to do was have a child who had a child.

Frankly, I do not need flowers and recognition. Sure, I am a mom. I gave up a great deal for my children. My life was turned topsy turvy. Sometimes it still happens. But I wanted children. I chose to have my babies. They are my gift to myself. They have always been the very heart of me. And, they have given me my wonderful grandchildren. What gift could be better.

Mom's Day is here. For all of you mothers who were in my life, who nurtured and loved me, I thank you. Pauline Aukerman, a church mom, watched over me when I was a toddler in Sunday School and became my friend when I was a teen. Happy Mother's Day, Pauline. I have lost so many of the 'moms' who influenced my life: Margaret Stager, Doris Lavy, Betty Johnson, Welma Johnson, Kate Loxley, Leah Rhoades, Freeda Anderson, and, especially my sisters June and Peggy who continue to influence my life.  All of these women hold a place in my heart.

I have a picture of my mother winking at me. It sits in my kitchen. Each day I look at it and smile. Oh, Mom, I love you. Miss you with all my heart, and in case I did not say it enough over the years, thank you. Happy Mother's Day. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Right handed southpaw

They all tried. Every teacher gave it her best. Even Miss Rhoades could not alter the fact that I was a right-handed backhander. Two of the Loxley girls were left-handed. I guess in the grand scheme of things, I wanted to be a southpaw. Be careful for what you ask.

On May 4, I will have surgery on my right thumb and unable to move it for three months. With this in mind, I decided to see how capable I would be in taking care of myself. I am a rather independent woman. Well, let me tell you, I have new respect for my sisters in this right-handed world. Unlocking my front door, trying to open packages with one hand, turning the key in the ignition, putting on makeup, managing my clothing, washing my hair and showering.  Kudos to all of you who have accomplished what I am so awkwardly trying to achieve. You are my champions.

My teachers tried to make me write 'normally'. In fact, my sister Peg was browbeaten by her teachers who insisted that she use her other hand. Now we know that lefties are right-brained, creative and usually have a higher IQ. I assume since I write back-handed with my right hand, that I am a little smarter and slightly creative by association. My 6th grade teacher Mrs. Sims who was a tyrant on a good day just could not understand that I could not write any other way. Yes, my paper was turned sideways when I wrote. I usually had ink all over my hand. But then my writing was legible. That should have counted for something. Since becoming an adult, I find that my form of writing has not be criticized by anyone, and my life has been fairly normal despite this southpaw-wanna-be.

With all of this in mind. I will be out of commission until I can tackle typing with only my left hand. This will not deter me from my weekly column. Some of my old stories will be revisited, Those that have a special place in my heart. A few new ones will be added as I can get to them before the surgery. I hope you will bear with me.

I will be in Darke County some time the beginning of June. It would be great fun to meet those of you who visit with me each week. Thank you for being part of my life. I hope I add a bit of joy to yours as well.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Shades of what was to come

"I was just beginning to walk a little," said June recounting a story I had not heard before. Sometimes a column awakens more memories. Last week I mentioned the bookmobile. June brought up a story I had not heard before. She had been confined to bed with rheumatic fever for two years and was just beginning to take a few steps outside of the house. "The bookmobile would go to the school then come by our house. I don't think he was supposed to. Mom asked, and, of course, she got him to stop by."

The bookmobile. Surely every kid was as excited as I was when that big bus rolled into the school yard. I decided to find out a bit more about the history of bringing books to the people. In England in 1857, The British Workman reported a story of a perambulating library going out to eight villages in Cumbria. The project was the brainchild of a merchant and philanthropist named George Moore who wanted to send good literature out to rural areas. This 'mobile library' consisted of a horse pulling a cart with the sides open revealing books. In 1890, Fairfax County, Virginia, set up a perambulating library for the northwest part of the county. The early bookmobile was created in 1904. It began in Chester County, South Carolina. The mule-drawn wagon carried wooden boxes full of books to outlying areas. Melvil Dewey is credited with first implementing this idea of taking collections of books to people in 1893. By 1899 there were 2500 collections of books traveling the countryside.

I love researching the past. Sometimes I come up with my own discoveries. I personally think the first idea of sharing books came from those first printed books. It all began with Gutenberg and his Bible. One book. One book that opened up a world of literature to the public. Not yet a library, but the beginning of lending. The churches, the scholars and the wealthy were the first to possess books. The poor could not read. The laborer, the housewife, the children, all illiterate. Illiterate until someone said, "Would you like to learn to read?". Lending, borrowing. It grew and grew despite wars and destruction. The written word would not be tucked away. Books were burned, and still they thrived. A world left in darkness was given the opportunity to think and grow creativity. Soon books were shared. Those first lenders were wise to share their books and sometimes open up their private libraries to those who begged to learn. Shades of what was to come.

The big bus rattled its way back the lane on Neff Road. A little girl on wobbly legs climbed the stairs.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

When books come calling

Big wooden doors. The smell of paper, the sound of shoes walking across a hardwood floor. Glass divider windows and books everywhere. My first ventures into the Greenville Public Library.

My mother loved books, but our children's books in the playroom were mostly given to us by aunts and grandmothers. Books of gardens and birds. Prayer books. Music books. Books of bunnies hiding in watering cans and three bears eating porridge. Books now tattered and torn by the years of children thumbing through them.

Perhaps the best and most exciting introduction of books in my life came from the bookmobile. I still remember standing outside Franklin School, waiting to climb up the steps leading to the books. Rows of books just waiting for an eager child. The library came calling.

I love to read. Receiving a Kindle did not minimize my desire to hold a paper book in my hands. I am never without a pile of books next to my bed and a book in the car. Books. They widen our world and entertain. They inform us and raise our curiosity. Most of all, they inspire us.

As a grandma, I am drawn to books for my grandchildren. The art attracts me most. I am not so sure whether I buy them for me or for the kids. When looking back at the books we girls received as children, I know that they, too, were purchased with the artwork in mind.

On May 10, 2011, I wrote an article about a little book called "Jolly Jingles". The book has been well loved by a little girl with long, bouncing curls. The poem I wrote about was called "Once a leopard saw his spots, lots and lots and lots and lots." In my blog, A Grandparent's Voice, it has been viewed 428 times. It has been read by men and women trying to find a bit of their pasts.  Books that we carry in our memories.

We Loxley girls were fortunate that Mom saved our books. Of course, every kid in the neighborhood shared them as well, but, in the end, they were ours.

I can still smell the books and hear the shoes click clacking across the hardwood floor. I think I will stop by the Greenville Public Library when I get back that way. Maybe I will see you there.