Monday, October 17, 2011

Back In Time

This weekend my son, Chris and family, came to visit and do the Green Bluff Harvest Loop. There are so many farms to visit and fun things to do. One of the farms had a Petting Zoo. As Chris was showing Elliott how to feed the animals, I snapped this photo, not only on my camera but in my mind!

The year was somewhere around 1972 and my son Sandor was about Elliott's age. We had gone for a weekend trip to Natureland in New Hampshire to show him some critters. It is always more fun when you are showing things to your child. Somehow, it brings out your inner child no matter your age!

Darrel, his Dad, had bent down to show Sandor how to feed the goats. Darrel was much younger than Chris is now but the setting of the little corral, Dad and child and the slightly thinning hairline sent me back to 1972 bringing tears to my eyes!

It is that old feeling of Deja vu that all of us have now and again. A sight, a smell, something you hear or taste sends your mind tumbling through the years to another time and place, perhaps to a time when life was new. At 62, I was taken back to my early 20's, a young mother with all those years left to live. The tears were of joy and sadness. The joy of seeing my son Chris become such a wonderful father and the sadness of knowing that children grow up all too quickly.

The total dependency and pure love that a child and parent have disappears all too quickly. They learn to walk and talk and reason for themselves. The constant hugs and cuddles give way to curfews and a tug of war over their independence. If you are lucky, you hope to become a friend, which eases the transition a bit but that magic of childhood is lost forever...until you become a grandparent!

The Lord blesses us with those fleeting moments of hugs and cuddles and relieves us of the duties of  full time parenting. We can once again feel that pure love as a grandchild snuggles up close and says, "Nana, I love you more!" That is, of course, impossible because your love started many years before they were even born with their Mom or Dad, your very first cuddlers!



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Boxing, Tea and Cookies

Like most people, my memories start around age 4. My parents liked to party on the weekends, so I was shipped off to my grandmother's house. It was a big old house with wide painted boards on the floors and shear curtains and shades on the large windows. It was built around 1900 and had the drafty windows and poor insulation.

I can still remember the smell. The heat was coal, with a delivery chute on the side of the house. Eventually, they would upgrade to oil, which also smelled. A large grandfather clock stood at the foot of the stairs and it chimed on the hour. At night when all was quiet, you could clearly hear the ticking in the upstairs bedrooms.

The house was located near the fire station and at noon and 7pm  every day a loud horn would blow. I don't know if it was to test the horn or not, but it was extremely loud! It was enough to start your heart a racing and make your hair stand on end over your goose bumps! It was so loud, that it would still startle you even though you knew it was coming!

The house was one block over from the Guilford Green. Being in the East, most towns were built in a square pattern. The Green was the hub of the town with stores and churches bordering it. I guess out west, you would call it a park of sorts. There was no playground equipment, just sidewalks, statues and benches. A place of gathering and reflection with plenty of trees for shade. In earlier years, my great great grandfather, Burton Sperry, lit the gas lights that burned through the night to illuminate the area.

On one end of the Green, there was the Congregation Church that my great grandma attended. Everything was within walking distance of the house. I would often attend church with her and my parents were married there. She grew up in the town of Guilford, CT and loved to tell the tale of how she and her husband met. Back in those days, it was horse and buggy and church socials that brought people together and not the internet! After one of these socials, Burton Sperry Jr. asked if he could escort my g. grandma home in the buggy. It was the thrill of her lifetime! He bundled her up in blankets and furs and they snuggled together to keep warm. They were smitten from the start.

I loved being in that great big old house! My experiences there were always of days of old with the flavor of the new. It was quite the contrast. On Saturday evenings, my grandmother and great grandmother would settle into their chairs in the living room and watch TV. I chuckle now as to their choice of programs. The TV was small by today's standards,  had a rabbit ear antenna and would only get the local the time there were three!

The first program we watched was "Boxing"! Just two old ladies and me cheering on the boxers! Boxing back then was very graphic and was only in black and white! After an hour of boxing to get the blood flowing, Lawrence Welk came on! Oh, how they loved that show! Both of them loved to sing. My grandma, Marguerite, even played piano. Watching Lawrence Welk, ingrained all the old tunes in my curly topped head at a very early age! When I went home, the next week, my girlfriend, Ann and I would take turns pretending we were Lawrence's Champagne Lady!

Sometimes during the show, my grandma would play TicTacToe  with me. She didn't let me win too often, either! After a long night of watching TV (two hours), we would head out to the kitchen for our tea and cookies! My g. Grandmother(Nana), would fill the kettle with water and put it on the stove. Remember, there were no microwaves back then or even electric coffee pots!

We would hear the Church Clock tower chime 10:00pm, have our tea with milk and sugar and yummy shortbread cookies! I would listen to the two of them talk about the Boxing and what songs they liked best on the show. Thinking back, it was a very strange conversation for two ladies to have Boxing/Showtunes and with tea and cookies! I Loved Every Minute Of It!

It was then off to bed for my back scratch! Both of my grandmas had beautiful nails. No matter whose bed I slept in that night....I always got a nice back scratch to send me off to pleasant dreams!

They are both gone now, but the memory of those times are with me, always, The moonlight streaming through the sheer curtains, the church clock tower and grandfather clock chiming, Nana's comforting snores and the Boxing, tea and cookies! Love, safe and secure!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Rides The Toy Horses

In 1985, my husband and I divorced. He had a long time problem with alcohol and I was at the end of my coping skills. We had four wonderful children who I was devoted to every day of my life. My intent was for them all to be with me.

As with so many good intentions, mine were short lived. I had been a great mom. I did Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Theater with my kids, gave super birthday parties and did not work outside the home. I organized Food drives, yet didn't have a Driver's License. I walked or road my bicycle everywhere. I was in great shape, all except for the emotional!

I covered up the fact that their Dad drank to excess. I never made a big scene, just was a dutiful wife protecting my kids. As far as anyone knew, we were the perfect family! So how is it that he got 3 out of the 4 kids! I trusted him and he took advantage of my good nature to do some legal footwork with a psychologist that worked in the same school system. All of a sudden, I became the bad guy!

He even was so generous as to write the divorce papers and show me the rough draft...too bad that was not the paperwork I would actually sign! My oldest son, was very observant and refused to go with his dad. Thank the Lord for small miracles! He and his dad did not get along, so he came with me.

It was that summer, I rode the toy horses in the Park, long after the children had left with the dark! I felt very much the victim and had no resources to fight for my kids. I resolved to get stronger, believe in myself and pray for guidance.

I went back with him three years later. He had not changed but I missed my kids and I had changed! I was no longer a little door mouse. I had repaired my self image, become financially independent and would call it as I saw it! When Dad was drunk the kids would now know it. Those 3 years that he had them during the week had already opened their eyes to his drinking.

 We were back together as a family, dysfunctional but I tried harder to make up for any gaps. The year was 1988. He never changed. Promised he would go to AA and instead met his friends at a bar regularly. He hid bottles in the garage and time passed.

In June of 1994, he died of a massive heart attack and life went on. He was 47. I was 45.

That summer of 1985, I Rode The Toy Horses In The Park, Long After The Children Had Left With The Dark! It was the summer, we all lost our innocence.