Monday, June 26, 2017

Zebra lines and candles

So I had a birthday. Yep, one more orbit, and I chalk up another line on the wall. By now, my wall looks like an overly-striped zebra. Well, I don't really have lines on the wall of my home. No, it is the wall in my mind that tracks all of my life events. Another birthday. Another line on the zebra.

The house was full of balloons, streamers and love. Emma and Nolan grabbed my hands and dragged me through the house, pointing out each and every bit of decoration. They rambled and giggled and could not wait for dessert and presents. I love that they were as excited for my birthday as they are for their own. I, myself, will be more excited for theirs. We can leave mine alone.

It is a year of significant birthdays in our family. I hit the seventy mark. Emma and Nolan will be five and off to kindergarten in the fall. My oldest granddaughter, Sydney, turned eighteen and is heading to college in the fall. Numbers that mark the turning of time. They mark the saying 'goodbye' and the welcoming 'hello'. Now at seventy, my life will change even more. Changes I embrace. (but that is another story) There is no need for candles on the cake, because the cake would be so riddled with little candle holes that it would be impossible to cut. Of course, there are little people just waiting to help blow out the candles. I prefer not to start a raging fire.

I sat looking through all of my old pictures. Looking for school pictures containing faces of my parents, their siblings and old friends.  Teachers, students all standing there with scowls on their faces. Lucy Fourman, John Rhoades, my aunts and uncles, faces of children I knew as adults now stared at me as children. I began to take it personally. Sorry, kids, I just don't know your names; however, I embrace this look back in time.

And, as it always happens with pictures, one search suddenly slows down with each of the memories that you hold in your hands. I wondered at the pictures we have of the events of this month. Pictures taken digitally. Who will take time to look at those? Who will lift each picture and look at the faces, the background, the memories of a time and a place? Will I have the pictures all tagged? Will anyone waaay down the line even come across a picture of me? In these pictures, I hold my history. I hold all the birthdays of everyone in this trunk of pictures. I celebrate their lives with every touch. I embrace their birth days.

Yes, another orbit has begun. A sort of starting over point where I get to gather new memories and maybe even learn a few more things. The zebra got a little longer this year. Here's to the celebration of living!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Our three dads

Father's Day retrospective.

When my little granddaughter was about two, I had gotten her a darling little bracelet with pearls and tiny hearts. A little girl charm hung off the side. She held the bracelet in her hand then placed it on the deck. In an instant the little bracelet fell through a crack. We could not get it out. The boards were close and there was no access beneath the deck. Well, that was three years ago. Last week Emma and I searched between the boards looking for the lost treasure. We found it. It laid there covered in a bit of mud.

Three fathers were celebrated. My daughter-in-law cooked a wonderful brunch where Emma brought up the fact that her bracelet was beneath the deck. Of course, everyone had to check it out. Three fathers. My son, his father-in-law Joe and my guy Loren. Three fathers vying to look through the crack at the lost bracelet. Three fathers working together showing the twins that we are family.

The bracelet was retrieved. Emma and I scrubbed and soaped the found trinket. The mud washed away and the shine returned a little scratched but still coming back to life. Three fathers. Three who truly represent the best of that word Father. Three men who would go to any length to serve this family well.

As a child, I failed to understand the times when my dad was furious with me. It was usually because he was afraid for me.  He didn't seem to mind too much that I wasn't a boy. He allowed me to always tag along and took time to show me the little things that I just might have missed. Dad.

I had dads on Neff Road who would have done anything for me at a moments notice. Hollie Stager, Victor Lavy, Carl Bucholtz, Warren Wert, Uncle Keith Loxley, Raymond Linder, Gene Johnson, Cyril Welbaum. Fathers who watched over the children on Neff Road. We didn't notice then but are so blessed to understand and embrace now. Dads.

Three men became heroes today. Perhaps for Emma but truly for me. Our three Dads.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A day for Dad

Yep, Mom's Day has come and gone. Father's Day is on the horizon. Neither of these days were celebrated back the lane on Neff Road. It wasn't that we didn't like our parents. In all seriousness, as children we were oblivious to their existence. My feeling is that perhaps my mother thought the days to be expressing pride. She was so against being prideful that we girls didn't know what it was like to have pride. I think she overshot her target.

As adults we realized the importance of our parents and gladly celebrated them. So today this article is for them and all the years we did not or could not celebrate. Well, really it is for my late father since it is his day on Sunday.

In asking June about the reasons we did not have these days in our childhood, she suggested that perhaps Hallmark had not yet come up with this marketing idea. Of course, nudge me a little and I am on the trail seeking the dawn of Father's Day.

Hallmark did not come up with this money-making card day. In fact, it had a difficult time getting started. There were several failed attempts ranging from one fellow trying to make his birthday Father's Day to a celebration for the families of the men killed in a mining disaster. However, the current Father's Day took hold in my beloved Northwest. A Spokane woman named Sonora Dodd who was raised by a widower wanted to establish a day for male parents. She visited churches, the YMCA, store owners and those in government to get support for her Father's Day. She succeeded and June 19, 1910, the state of Washington celebrated the first statewide Dad's Day. 

But here is the reason we probably did not celebrate Father's Day when I was growing up. In 1966 President Johnson issued the first proclamation honoring fathers on the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. In 1972 President Nixon signed Father's Day into law as a permanent national holiday.

Sorry, Dad. We certainly missed many years of celebrating you. We had the Father/Son celebration at church. But seeing that we were daughters, he missed out again. In fact, I don't think parents should be singled out to celebrate with the child of the same sex. A parent/child celebration of family would have been more inclusive. The Daddy/Daughter dances out here have turned into Family Dance. A celebration not divided by sex but a celebration of what family means.

Hallmark and other card companies love that we have so many singled-out celebrations. I see people dashing for cards, grabbing and running with the first card they pick out. Often I tell them to write a note to the person instead. Don't let Hallmark do the work for you. Indeed it will mean more as time passes.

Oh, well. Dad, I love you. I was your shadow and you relished the time we spent together. I sat at the table often with the men in our family fascinated by the conversations of farm and old stories of the past. Other fathers raised me as well. Hollie Stager and Victor Lavy were men who influenced this person. They loved me and embraced me as one of their own. Fathers be active in the lives of your family. It is your legacy and our blessing.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

She stood tall

She stood tall. She nurtured our family and gave us a serenity that I think we failed to notice at the time. She lived a good life before she fell. She was the old mulberry tree that grew in the circle of grass that held the memories of our family. She was my friend.

It is difficult to remember when I first became aware of that old tree. The thick trunk supported the long branches that shaded the grass. Dad tied a swing to one of the branches on the west side of the tree. A rope and a board. A place where little toddlers pushed off with chubby legs and big sisters pushed them when they were a bit older. The leaves provided a canopy that became a place for dress up and make believe weddings. Oh, how I loved that tree.

Old pictures cover decades of family activity. An old picture of my uncle, grandfather and dad playing croquet beneath that old tree. Their old cars parked beneath to keep them cool on a hot summer day. The tree in the background of a picture of my mother and my aunt astride horses. A new barn being built, looking at the old tree which was looking back and welcoming it to the farm. An old tree. A tree we took for granted.

There wasn't a day that the old tree didn't participate in my life. All of our special pictures were taken beneath that tree. We swung on a trapeze that hung on the east side of the tree. We picnicked beneath its shade, and younger generations would pick up the mallets and continue the game playing as the tree stood by.

Sometimes we don't miss something until it is gone. Dad eventually chopped down that sweet tree. Limbs were falling from its weary trunk. After it had fallen, the barnyard seemed bare. A friend, a playmate, a family member had left us. No longer would a small child pick the empty shells of the locust from its bark. No longer would the shade draw us to the yard. A friend had left us.

Perhaps the poetic side of me saw that tree as more than wood and leaves. It was a living, breathing tree that grew new branches as our family grew older years. It was as much a part of our childhoods as were the members of our family. We mourned when the old tree died. We were conservators of the land and had to terminate a dear life.

Trees, flowers, creeks and ponds, fields of grain, dung beetles, barn owls. All of them and more were a richness in my life. Then I appreciated them. Now I know the importance of them. She stood tall. She nurtured our family and gave us serenity. And, in her passing, she remained in my heart.