Overhead, rain pounded on the rooftop as I stood in my childhood bedroom staring out the window. The heavy spring-time shower formed rivulets on the glass, turning the back lawn into a green blur. My upcoming high school graduation and this week’s job search meant my childhood was over. But I felt fragile and unprepared to be an adult. I didn’t know what kind of work I wanted to do, let alone, if I was able to do it.
Being the youngest child in a family of seven children had allowed me to stay cozily tucked into a pocket of prolonged childhood where I avoided responsibility, independence and practicing adult activities. Mom and Daddy were born in 1905 and 1906 respectively, an era when women didn’t generally find a job or leave home after graduating from high school.
A mere nine months ago was the first time I even walked into a store alone to independently pick out and buy a pair of slacks. Now I needed to get a job, find a place to live, and buy household supplies. How was I going to do all this? I felt like a delicate flower facing a frosty night.
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 →
Tammie looked over at me from behind the steering wheel. She asked, “So, Mom, when are you going to retire?”
Without thinking, I laughed and said, “Me? I’m not old enough to retire. That’s at least two or three years away yet.” In the silence that followed, I looked out the passenger window at the fields, ponds and houses we were passing on highway 41. As our car crested a small rise and a whole new vista opened to us, I acknowledged to myself that maybe it was time for me to start thinking about retirement. I’d be sixty five in less than a year and a half.
Throughout most of the thirty seven years that Arnie and I were married, my husband frequently said, “We’re going to work it out so that you can quit working at the hospital.” That never happened, probably because my job provided our family with health insurance. All was good, I liked what I did and I worked only four days a week.
When Arnie and I were fifty-six years old, Arnie died suddenly. After that I had no more thoughts about quitting work. Continue reading →
Thick gray clouds hung low over the fields and farmyards that my bus rumbled past. I leaned my head against the cold window glass, enjoying being alone with my thoughts. One of my favorite songs was playing on the radio, a man singing the words, “From a Jack…to a Queen,” The drama in his beautiful voice, and the emotions his words conjured up in my twelve year old mind made me sigh deeply. Continue reading →