A ray of morning sunshine slanted down from the window on the stairway landing. Without thinking, I stepped into the beam, like a super star steps into a spotlight on stage. Closing my eyes, I smiled. It felt right and good to be there.
I may have stood in this exact spot on an April morning sixty years ago, when I was five. Back then I would have been listening to Mom talking to Daddy in the kitchen and enjoying the smell of fresh bread baking. I would have listened to my sister practicing her clarinet in her room, knowing that my brother was down the hall tinkering with a mechanical gadget in his room.
Today’s new, yet familiar, sunlight opened a floodgate of memories. Memories made more poignant by the job that lay before me, clearing out my childhood home to prepare for a new family to move in. Continue reading →
When the recess bell rang on the first day of school, not one of the fifty children in my first grade classroom moved. We didn’t know what to do. Sister Donna said, “That bell is telling us that it is time for you to go outside to run and play in the fresh air. In the closet by the door, I have jump ropes and balls. When the bell rings again, you have to come back to the classroom and put the balls and jump ropes away.”
Some of my classmates knew each other, so they went out to the playground holding hands. On the playground I watched the other little girls jumping rope and talking. There was something different about some of them. I didn’t really understand what it was, though. Continue reading →
I stopped halfway to my neighborhood cousin’s farm and looked around with pleasure. Overhead, the clouds were light colored, but on the horizon they remained a brilliant, stormy blue, reminding me of a face still wet after crying. Only an hour before, it had been raining. New grass and small leaves on the trees were bright green. The plowed soil along the road held rows of perky green sprouts against the dark brown dirt. Crystalline droplets of water sparkled on every sprig. The colors were strong, clear and beautiful. Even the damp gravel under foot was an amazing salmon-pink.
As I paused in the soft, velvety, afternoon spring air, I thought about how I seldom left the house for anything other than to go to church until I was four years old. I was the youngest child of a large, farm family. When it was warm I spent time out on the lawn with the big kids, but when it was cold I had to bundle up until I was hardly able to move. Continue reading →
Damp, gray tree trunks stood out in stark contrast to the brown, winter-dead lawn. The bleakness of the cloudless spring day made me sigh wearily. Rolling to a stop at the end of the driveway, I looked both ways to check for cars before pulling out onto the road, thinking, “Early spring is depressing. Everything bad that has ever happened to me…has happened at this time of the year!”
Recurrent clinical depression had plagued my early years. Flare-ups happened more often in the spring. Doing a mental check-up, I questioned, “Is this just a down day, or the start of my going off track?” Shaking my head, I thought about Christy, my first baby who was born in early February and died two months later. My Mom and Dad both died in the springtime. Then nine years ago my husband Arnie died unexpectedly on the anniversary of Christy’s death. He was only 56 years old.
Last April my 42 year-old son-in-law died when a deer crashed through the windshield of his van as he was driving my daughter to the hospital to have their eighth child. Never expecting to share widowhood experiences with my daughter so early in her life, I’m still reeling from the randomness of this horrible loss. Niki and Mike’s children are all two years apart, newborn to age fifteen. At least when Arnie died, our children were grown and on their own. Continue reading →