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Archive for the ‘Childhood Memories’ Category

french bakery www.hispasture press.com

Where this thought came from, I don’t know. A few nights ago I remembered a childhood friend and it dawned on me that I never got to see her grow up. I lost track of her. This is one view of growing up as a child of a father who was enlisted in the US Army, the difficulties, but let’s talk about the glorious ventures that a “military brat” can tell.

I started my life in Alaska. I do not remember any of it. My parents were very young, mom was in her upper teen years, and I was their first. They later showed me several color photographs of patches of lake ice that never melted. Dad told stories about their trips to the grocery store. While they were shopping the sun rose and set. It was dark when they went in and dark when they came out. He said that became depressing, to seldom see daylight during that season.

I was a toddler the first time we arrived in Indiana, and often when dad received a new assignment, we were stationed back in Fort Benjamin Harrison, Lawrence, Indiana, which is a town (suburb) of Indianapolis. We moved a total of five times within that same base in my first five years of life.

My father then received orders for France. I wrote a blog post about that adventure. It was amazing. Even though those two years in France were more than fifty years ago, I still have many fond memories. I remember my friends, the village that we lived in, the taste and smell of French food, the culture, gypsies in wagons, the architecture, and the beautiful countryside. School field trips to chateaus, surrounded by moats and garden mazes. Imagine unwrapped loaves of French bread displayed in cylinder shaped wire baskets on store floors. Locals rode their bicycles to the store, and left with a loaf of bread tucked under their arm as they cycled home.

We were then relocated back to Fort Harrison. We moved twice within the village, and then my parents rented a small mobile home on the fort for us to reside in while my father did a couple of years in Korea.

Living on an Army base was pretty cool. It was safe. Summer break was amazing. I think I lived in the huge concrete pool. I loved the forests in which we roamed and played. These were deep woods filled with stunning beauty and adventure. This particular area is now a state park. It is difficult for me to grasp that the broad area where I roamed is now a paid-to-enter state park.

My parents decided to purchase a home in Indianapolis and then my father was sent to Viet Nam, which became three difficult years of our lives. On one hand, my brother and I happily grew roots with the neighborhood kids, but there was a feeling of dark clouds and worry over our home. Dad was in a place so far away, and he was always in danger. Mom was pregnant with my baby sister, and times were tough.

After several years, we were sent to Baltimore, Maryland, which was a great adventure for me. I enjoyed the culture of the east coast. I made many friends, yet, I knew it would be a short-lived two years, and it was. I believe I can still smell those Chesapeake Bay crabs. Crab feast anyone? Baltimore tunnel, rush hour traffic?

We trekked back to Indianapolis, to our home that had been rented out in our absence.

I feel blessed in the respect that I got to see many areas of the world that others have not seen. I was taught to speak French in kindergarten and 1st grade. We attended day school, no half days, and we had lunch in the mess hall. Mess hall food was fantastic. I later discovered a rosemary lemon chicken recipe in a book authored by Julia Child, that mirrored one of our mess hall lunches. It was that good. I enjoyed a full life on the Army bases – movies, swimming, bowling, Girl Scouts, and I absorbed Sunday School once a week. I was active, busy, and I loved my activities.

Forming long-term relationships was difficult and that bit into me. Yet, it made me strong. I think this is a good thing, that we learn resilience and agility, and I feel – for me – this was God’s plan. We lived in diverse places, lived in close quarters with people from all over the United States and the world. I clearly remember an evening on the fort when I smelled Chinese food wafting from one door, and two doors down came the aroma of Italian, mingled with the scent of a German dinner from another few doors down.

I cannot imagine living in the same house, on the same street, for an entire childhood. Yet, sometimes I wonder just how that would be. So, this is your place and turn, tell me how you perceive it. If you were a child and had a choice, would you have formed deep roots in one place, or would you have preferred travelling? What was your experience?

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constant connections www.hispasturepress.com

Sometimes I wonder where we crossed the constant connection line.

I remember when my mother had a tan-colored phone that hung on the kitchen wall. It was a rotary dial. There was no answering machine. If people called while you were out, nobody got mad, and nobody got worried. The caller attempted to call at appropriate times. I remember my mother’s sister asking if she could call on Sunday’s after 5:00. When she called, my mother was usually relaxing and this became family connection time.

I also remember party lines. Folks had phones in their homes that did not have a dial. They called the operator to place a call. They also listened for a set number of rings before they picked up a call. I think I nearly gave my Great Aunt a stroke when I picked up her phone after it rang once. Her assigned number of rings was five. After the phone rang five times in a row it was a guaranteed call for that household, not for the next household down the dusty gravel road.

I miss those days to a degree. Life was more difficult because we had less conveniences, yet it was easier because we didn’t have electronics. The closest thing to an electronic was the big wood stereo that sat in our living room. Mom cleaned house to “long hair” music, which I now refer to as soft orchestra or band music.

We didn’t walk around with a phone stuck to our ear. We went out and did whatever we wanted and needed without staying connected, but then, we weren’t able to share our experiences instantly with our friends around the world.

Families actually enjoyed each other’s company. Have you seen couples or families sitting at a restaurant table together with each individual staring at their own phone? What about moms that walk and scroll on their phones, while dads tend to the kids, or vice versa?

I have visited homes where people were texting each other across the room. Talk about an uncomfortable situation. I do not worry over what people think about me, but the visitor would be dead to not wonder.

What do you think? Would you like to break away, or do you take a vacation from your cell phone deliberately? Do you feel safer with a phone within your reach? Do you go to bed reading on your phone, and do you wake and catch up on updates on your phone before you rise out of bed? I admit. I have a difficult time not reading the news (I know…bad times for that) before I read my favorite fiction books that I call my sleeping pills.

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jumbo puppy www.hispasturepressDiesel and I were secured in the dog park when I heard a little voice squeal with delight, “Look mom, a jumbo puppy!” He did not see a chunky wrinkle-faced bulldog, he saw a jumbo puppy! The tiny boy clung to the chain link fence with intent, with nothing short of delight in his eyes. A memory formed in the boy’s mind that instant, the days he saw a tiger-striped chubby dog that strolled in a rolling motion and snorted as he went.

This notice of simple pleasure reminded me to treat today, every day, as the best day ever.

To see life through the eyes of a child.

The sun suddenly became brighter. Blue deepened from horizon to horizon. Clouds fluffed. Air freshened.

This coffee mug that sits within my reach holds not just any ordinary beverage and it is not of a simple design. It is painted with bright hues of red, blue, yellow, and green. I could be drinking it on a veranda, admiring the beautiful Hill Country. I see it. Do you? The coffee is perfectly steamy, with just a touch of vanilla…and something else that I do not recognize. Smooth. This is why they call it Texas Pecan. Today, I let it linger over my tongue. I enjoy every…single…drop.

As I prepare for my day, I am not simply dressing. I am staging my day with color. Today is a deep blue day…from turquoise to navy, with a touch of clay. I am choosing from the box of crayons of life once again. Is it periwinkle, or sea foam green? Perhaps it is tomato red tomorrow. Mountain meadow?

I am listening in these early morning hours to the hum of the refrigerator. I think of my grandmother’s large kitchen with her Formica topped table and white metal cabinets. The freezer and refrigerator filled with Missouri peaches and grandfather’s favorite salads. They also hummed away, holding the treasures from earth cold and fresh. The snoring buzz of the bulldog, the five-year-old jumbo puppy gives warmth to my heart. His eyes pop open now and then, but he is unconscious, the monkey. I hear the tapping of the keyboard. Happy sounds from my fingertips. Painting words on paper. This is not just the ordinary. This is life times one-hundred.

Hello world. I shake your hand. I hug your people. I embrace your beauty. I absorb what you, my Father, have surrounded my being with.

Today, I am who I am. I live in a “jumbo puppy” world.

This is the best day…ever.

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fathers www.hispasturepress.comIt was a breezy summer afternoon. The oak tree branches resembled huge fronds, lifting, swaying and fanning the air below. I watched a father make a wooden swing. He smoothed and sanded the rough edges, and painted the swing soft white. He pulled the knotted yellow rope through the holes that he drilled out and he patiently tossed the long loose ends over the large tree branch above, over and over again, until he was able to snug up the rope to hold the swing. For nearly an hour, he gently pushed his young son, up down, up down, in the shade of the old tree. My heart warmed at the sight. I knew that boy would remember the day his father stood beside him. Dad took the time to be with his son. He created a memory infused with love.

My father was stationed locally one summer. This meant he joined us in the backyard after dinner to partake in family games. I still think he and my brother cheated at softball, so I’ll elaborate on badminton instead. Keep in mind, I know nothing about the game except for hitting the birdie over the metal swing set, and bending over in sheer laughter as my father rushed back and forth to swing his racquet and whoop the birdie back. When he ran, while normally still attired in his US Army pants, his pockets jingled. Chink, chink, ca-chink. My father always had a pocket full of change. He said, “You just never know when you will need money.”

Do you know how to keep snakes from coming ashore? You throw everything you have at them. I know this, because my father taught me so. We were fishing. It was early spring. An entire family of young snakes had a better idea than we did, our intentions were to lazily fish the day away. The reptile family decided to join our human family while we stood with fishing poles in hand. I am not a snake lover, so I dropped my pole and distanced myself from the water’s edge. My father proceeded to throw parts of his lunch, empty packages, you name it, at the small snakes, thinking they would turn away. He swung his pole into the water, slapped it around, and to this day I the believe the snakes enjoyed dad’s little game. As much as I hate slithering live things that have no appendages, I was again bent over in side-splitting laughter. My father’s snake repelling attempts were unsuccessful. We moved what was left of our quiet family picnic fishing party to a spot where no snakes came to visit.

I spent many days in the parking spot behind our townhouse as a young teen while my father earned extra cash working on neighbor’s cars. Those were the days before we needed computers to analyze automobile issues. Dad would line up his tools in neat rows as he explained the intricacies of car parts and tools, “Because, someday you might need to know things about an engine.” Perhaps this is why I am not one of those women that ignores sounds coming from under a hood that aren’t indicative of a healthy car.

When we lived in Baltimore, around the same time frame as the make-shift car repair days, he delivered advice, such as. “When you are driving, you always look ahead. Do not just watch the traffic right in front of you.” Each time I drive in Central Texas, I am always on the watch for a bottleneck on the interstate, which is a frequent event, and it nearly goes without saying, I hear my dad’s words, “look ahead.”

When my father was home on leave, he appreciated the chance to cook. He arrived home from the store with paper towels and several other necessity items, “You don’t run a home without these things.” Then, he fired up a large batch of chili. Dad did tell me many times to make sure I did not try to save money while ignoring the necessary things in life. He was not pleased when I bought the small car for my large family, without air conditioning. Nor was he pleased when I bought the small house with the washer and dryer hook ups right in the middle of the kitchen, in the center of the home where they loudly competed with television and conversations. His words were, “Who buys a house like that?” Me.

My father always told me, “You are a lucky girl. There aren’t too many people who can say you’ve seen the places that you have seen in your lifetime.” He prided himself on that, on the traveling. I never told him that I had a hard time when I couldn’t make long-term friends. Army friends were the best, though – black, white, yellow – from everywhere. We loved. We laughed. We watched over each other. We were true neighbors!

Fathers – your children, your daughters, your sons, will always remember the little things. If your daughter smiles 40 years from now when she sees visions of you chasing the birdie that she worked so hard to shoot across the back yard, with pockets jingling each time your feet make contact with the ground, it is time well spent.

Remember one thing: look ahead! Make memories.

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melissa king www.dreamstime.com

When I was a child we often lived on U.S. Army bases, or in some type of family housing.

Populate a neighborhood or a single building with people from differing states, or with those that were born in other nations, and you get the picture of the communities that I grew up in. Despite our differences, we had so much in common. We trusted and looked after each other.

I became friends with a quiet and well-mannered girl and spent several years at her side. To this day, I cannot use any better word to describe her than kind.

Jackie’s mother deserved the golden award for hospitality. She was beautiful, her warm smile gleamed with love. She always greeted me when I entered her home, and then she and I talked for a few minutes before Jackie and I jaunted off to the bedroom to play with dolls — immersed in our own carefree happy world.

Years later, Jackie’s family announced that they were purchasing a home off-base. I was surprised by my own reaction – a house, really? I was concerned about Jackie attending a new school. She would no longer have her military base friends nearby. I had a feeling her life would no longer be anything like the one she had known.

After a year or so passed, Jackie’s parents invited my family to dinner. I’ll never forget the immaculate home in the quiet pristine neighborhood. It was a warm and inviting place, yet, I felt as if the ground beneath my feet was going to shift. It did, behind closed doors…between two dear friends.

Jackie, who looked as if she had grown up overnight, said, “You know, you and I really aren’t supposed to be friends.”

Did I hear her right?

I was stunned and speechless. She did not break eye contact with me. My heart filled with trepidation. I wanted to erase what I had just heard.

“We are different, don’t you see. I am black. You are white.”

We are…different?

Yes, I knew she was black – we said colored back then, but, did I care? No. So, why was it necessary for Jackie to tell me this?

I could not unscramble my thoughts, not enough to utter a single word.

Jackie then told me the worst news. She was one of the few black children in her new school, and she was suffering from un-acceptance.

My heart filled with pain.

My heart broke over the words, “you and I aren’t supposed to be friends,” and this sweet girl, the one with blood that ran through her veins the same as mine, was being forced into stiffening her backbone because her outer layer, her skin, was not white.

It was a difficult pill to swallow, and then life as we knew it changed.

We lost contact over the years, as did many of us children of military parents, but I’ll never stop loving my friend.

“”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)

Do you have a similar story to tell?

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stained glass www.hispasturepress

I slowly inched up the steps in an effort to not give myself away, yet the boards under my feet creaked and moaned.

I stopped and pressed my nose to the panes. My young head didn’t know of such things…yet, what I saw was close to divine beauty in my heart. As I slowly shifted my feet the world changed from amber, to green, and then to my treasured blue. I was looking through a magic lens – one that instantly changed a sunny day to a softened hue, with texture that softened to gentle drops of rain. It was much like a dream, but real and filled with glorious imagination.

I continued up the staircase as I whispered, ‘Do I dare sit on the rocking chair?’ I could tiptoe over to it while holding onto the banister, as long as I kept my feet close to the edge. She said she didn’t know how safe the floor was. But the window in the alcove, with sun filtering through the lace curtain, the small table draped with a delicate crocheted cloth, and the solitude…what a place it was to read. Nobody would dare go there…but I. A place where I could ponder. Alone. Thank you, God.

The musty aroma of the house combined with the rising heat of the day was familiar and pleasant. There was no dust, it was the smell of age. If I could only visit more often! This was grandmother’s house. Even then, filled with remnants of days gone by.

What if the radio worked? It was larger than I. What if I could walk out that door in the bedroom, to stand on the roof above the porch? What if I sat there all day and then night, accompanied by the light of the moon? They said it was not safe, but what if?

I soundlessly opened a drawer. It was empty. I picked up a small pillow. How many babies had slept in the crib? I opened the wardrobe and imagined my mother’s school dresses, starched and ironed to perfection without a wrinkle.

A row of books caught my eye. Books! Quietly, I slid the first one out. I gasped and nearly lost my footing as something close to my fingers moved. I slammed the book back into place, happy that the tiny spider did not land on my hand. My heart hammered. Payback!  I reminded myself that I was snooping. Yet, I could hear grandmother’s words, echoing as if it were just moments ago, telling my mother, “Let her be. She isn’t harming a thing up there.” I was not.

I was gathering memories.

Did you have a favorite place as a child, or perhaps you now, where you went for solitude – to ponder, dream, read, or to meditate or pray?

 

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Christmas loveShe said she was sorry.  I found myself confused. Obviously, my memories where on a different plain than hers.

“Mother, I think I missed something. Why are you apologizing?”

“We never had money, you never had much for Christmas.”

I never had much, except for memories of love, joy and warmth.

I never had much, but the precious memories of receiving a simple gift or two, minus a yearning for things that a child should never expect.

I never had much, except for sharing my room for one night a year with my brother – our unspoken way of waking up early and doubling up on the excitement together to see what Santa had left for us under the tree.

When I think of mother apologizing to me for (her idea of) slight Christmas’s, I am not reminded of the one or two gifts that we received every year, no…instead, I wonder if she had anything else on her mind that went unspoken for too many years.

Moms, and fathers, can be hard on themselves.

I do not have memories of ripping open stacks of Christmas gifts. I do have memories of love, along with awe over the precious child, Jesus, the Messiah, born in a stable. As far as I am concerned, there was nothing missing.

Love does not come from a package, but it is the grandest gift of all.

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