Category Archives: Essence of Reminiscence

Essence of Reminiscence – Week 3 – Siblings & Childhood Friends: “A Friend for Life”

I believe that everyone should have the pleasure of knowing that they have a best friend, at least at one time or another in their life, and I’m so fortunate that I can say that I have. As a matter of fact, I have a friend who has been a lifelong friend. Her name is Laurie. I met her in 1960 and we are still friends to this very day! We were only five at the time, and she was my very first friend.

There have been periods throughout these many years in which we have not had a chance to communicate with each other for two to three years at a stretch, but when we do, it’s as though we had just seen each other the day before. The fact that we can do this is a testimony to our friendship. It shows that the sands of time have not broken our bond of friendship, and I am forever grateful for this blessing. There’s a song make new friends 10that the Brownie Girl Scouts sing which summarizes how old friendships should be compared to new friendships, and it’s called: Make New Friends: 

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold. A circle is round, it has no end. That’s how long I will be your friend. A fire burns bright, it warms the heart. We’ve been friends from the very start. You have one hand, I have the other. Put them together, we have each other. Silver is precious, gold is too. I am precious and so are you. You help me, and I’ll help you, and together we’ll see it through. Across the land, across the sea, friends forever we will always be.

And speaking of Brownies, I will tell you my favorite story about the two of us when we were six years old and in the first grade together. Laurie belonged to the local Brownie troop. Every Tuesday she would wear her Brownie uniform to school. I was so jealous of her. I wanted to be in the Brownies, but my parents could not afford the cost of the uniform. So I had to settle for Laurie’s accounts of every meeting. One day she came home with her Brownie handbook and showed me a story about Brownies. Now these Brownies were good deed-doers, and in the middle of the night when everyone was fast asleep, the Brownies would come out in secret and go  forth to do good deeds. When the people arose in the morning the good deed would be apparent, but of course, no one knew who did the good deed. The most important part of doing a good deed was to never reveal your identity. If you told anyone that it was you who did the good deed, then the good deed would be erased out of the Book of Good Deeds.

Of course Laurie and I, being six years old, were quite impressionable and wanted to be Brownies and do a good deed. So Laurie arranged for me to sleep over at her house one Friday night. Laurie knew that her parents went to bed at eleven o’clock every night so this was the perfect opportunity for us to do a good deed. The plan was that at midnight we would sneak down the stairs and into the kitchen at which time we would set out breakfast for everyone – bowls, spoons, glasses, cereal boxes, orange juice and milk. Since we were only six years old, we didn’t think about the milk spoiling or the orange juice getting warm. We were just concerned with the task at hand – to be Brownies.

So that evening, I went to Laurie’s house at suppertime. I remember we had tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I can still smell of the fresh tomatoes and the toasting cheese sandwiches. Naturally, the meal which I ate at my friend’s house tasted so much better than it did when I ate the same meal at my house. Mrs. Larson even brought out an apple pie for dessert. Mrs. Larson made the best apple pie. I can still taste the sweetness of the brownie dollsugar and cinnamon mixed with the perfectly baked apples and the flaky light brown pie crust. It makes my mouth water just  to remember it.

After dinner, Laurie and I played the usual game we always played: make-believe. We took turns playing teacher. We even managed to have her brother David and her baby sister Valerie sit in as students. We were allowed to stay up until nine o’clock since it was not a school night. But at nine o’clock we raced up the stairs to Laurie’s bedroom. We were so excited that we were going to be Brownies in just three hours.

Now Laurie’s parents had this beautiful wooden cuckoo clock hanging on the wall in their living room. Every hour on the hour the little cuckoo bird inside would come out and announce the hour by his cuckoo. If it was nine o’clock he would cuckoo nine times.  If it was nine-thirty he would cuckoo only once. This was the way we were going to know when midnight came. We decided that once we could hear the little bird cuckoo twelve times, the coast would be clear, and we would be free to sneak down the stairs and into the kitchen.

To pass the time, we whispered to each other so her parents wouldn’t know we were still awake. We whispered all kinds of things that little girls whisper about. And Laurie had a flashlight which she used to show me how to read underneath the blankets. This was a new trick to me. So we read stories. I remember our favorite book at this point was a book that Laurie owned: The Big Book of Mother Goose. There was one more book which Laurie owned and was also a favorite of ours: The Fairy Tales of Grimm.

I remember listening for the cuckoo clock and sure enough, just as Laurie had promised, we could hear it in her bedroom. The time seemed to drag by. We were so anxious to do our good deed that there was no way we would fall asleep.

Then finally, the time came. Midnight. We crept out of the bedroom, tiptoeing past the other bedrooms, hoping the wooden floor would not creak. We reached the top of the stairs. We had decided beforehand that the best way to get down the stairs quietly was if we sat on each step and then slip down to the next one, using our backsides instead of our feet. I remember counting those stairs as we slowly descended the staircase – there were thirteen steps exactly. I remember sitting side by side with Laurie, sliding down those steps. Because of the darkness it was difficult to see, but we managed by holding on to each other’s hand. When we reached the bottom of the stairs we tiptoed quietly into the kitchen, trying hard not to giggle. Of course, we had to do our good deed in the dark because Laurie’s mom and dad slept in the downstairs bedroom.brownies 6

Into the kitchen we tiptoed, as slowly and as carefully as we could. Finally we reached our destination and started whispering in each other’s ear about what to put out on the table. We set about our work, knowing that one day perhaps our good deed would be rewarded. I admit that it was hard not to giggle as we set out the bowls and glasses. We were having a wonderful time being Brownies.

As a matter of fact, we were having such a wonderful time that at first we didn’t notice Laurie’s mom when she entered the kitchen. Laurie saw her mother first and darted underneath the sink. There was no cupboard under the sink, so it was the perfect place to go. When I noticed my friend hiding beneath the sink, I knew something was up. I turned around and there she was – Mrs. Larson in her pink nightgown with her big fuzzy slippers. She was standing there looking at me with her hands on her hips. Now when I think about it, I know she was suppressing a smile. As soon as I saw her, I hurried to where Laurie was, but it was no use; the jig was up. Mrs. Larson flipped on the kitchen light and said, “Girls, it’s not time for breakfast yet. You still have about eight hours of sleep time left. Go on now. I’ll finish up in here; you two get to bed.”

We scurried out of the kitchen and upon passing the cuckoo clock in the living room, Laurie pointed it out to me. It showed the time to be only 11:15. I guess we had miscounted the cuckoos! We giggled all the way up the stairs and into Laurie’s bedroom.  We never tried to be Brownies again. But I think our good deed counted, anyway!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”   ~ John Leonard

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This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post. If you’d like more information about this event, please click here:

Siblings & Childhood Friends

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Essence of Reminiscence – Week 2 – Mischiefs and Pranks: “The Little Girl in the Tree”

I’ll never forget the beautiful spring day in late May when our five-year-old daughter Stephanie found herself as the little girl who needed her daddy to be her knight in shining armor. It all started out as a bit of mischief on her part, and she was basically just trying to have a bit of fun, but it didn’t turn out to be as much fun as she had expected. I was working a late shift at the hospital at the time, but after I heard about what happened, I was glad that I wasn’t there, because I know that I would have been in panic mode. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start at the beginning.

At the time this story happened, we had three children: Joe, age 12, Sarah, age 7, and Stephanie, age 5. Because Sarah and Stephanie are so close in age, they have always enjoyed a very close relationship as sisters and still do to this very day. They played together, shared a bedroom, argued with each other and then made up with each other five minutes later, shared secrets, and even took baths together. I have always loved their sister bond because it is like a precious gem – priceless.

OUR APPLE TREE IN BLOOM

Our apple tree in bloom

In our back yard, hanging over our deck, is our one and only apple tree, which we dearly love. This apple tree is not very tall, and it only bears these little apples which we don’t eat, but just let them fall to the ground and then my husband has the dreary task of having to gather them up from all over the ground and the deck. But the special thing about this apple tree, particularly for me is that somehow it always blooms on Mother’s Day weekend.

But our daughter Sarah loved this apple tree for another reason. She would climb into the apple tree (not very high, maybe just a a couple limbs) and then, thinking that the the rest of the world could neither see nor hear her, she would sing at the top of her lungs and to her heart’s content. It was her own little world up there in what she termed as “my apple tree” and she loved that she could escape to it whenever she wanted to. Oh, how I loved to watch her through my kitchen window. I would crack the window open very carefully so she wouldn’t hear, lest she’d catch me spying on her, and watch and listen as she sang her little girl songs, most of which were made up, suppressing my laughter. It really was quite charming.

Enter Stephanie. One day she discovered her sister Sarah in the apple tree and noticed just how much fun she was having. She didn’t mention a single word of it to Sarah or to me. She just mulled it over in her little head, which can sometimes be a dangerous thing for a 5-year-old, as we later found out!

Remember that beautiful spring day in late May that I mentioned earlier? The one on which I was working the late shift at the hospital? I forgot to mention how windy it was that day and I forgot to mention that my husband was home with the kids. The girls were in the back yard playing – nothing unusual about that, and Mike was getting supper ready, just like any good Dad should, right?  Just then, Sarah came running into the house yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, come quick! Stephie’s stuck!”

“Stuck! What do you mean, stuck?”

“She’s stuck in the apple tree, Daddy, and she can’t get down! Hurry! She’s crying!.”

Mike raced out the door and Sarah followed him to the back yard. As my husband rounded the corner of the house to the deck where the apple tree was located, he looked up, and there was our little girl – all the way on the very top branch, holding on for dear life, swaying to and fro with each gust of wind.

“Daddy! Help me!” Stephanie could barely get the words out between her sobs.

ISN'T SHE LOVELY?

Our daughter Stephanie

“I will, honey.”

“I’m scared, Daddy.”

“It’s okay, honey. Just hold on tight. ”

Then my husband had to rush to the garage, get the ladder, and even so, he was barely able to reach our youngest daughter from the top branch. How in the world she ever managed to climb onto the skinniest branch and not have it break under her weight, even though she was small, we will never know, although I believe Divine Providence may have had something to do with it.

Stephanie never did climb the apple tree again, although Sarah did continue to sing in it for a year or so after the incident, but then gradually outgrew it, a fact which saddened me. But all little girls do have to grow up sometime. It’s just that we mothers really don’t want them to, right?

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Children have the unforgivable habit of growing up.”  ~ Bjarne Reuter

 

essence of reminisence 5This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post. If you’d like more information about this event, please click here:

Mischiefs And Pranks

Essence of Reminiscence – Week 1 – That Unforgettable Journey: “A Dream Come True”

As we sat down to supper the night that my husband, Michael, gave us the news, I could tell he had a special announcement for us. There was a twinkle in his eyes as we said grace, and he was rushing us through the prayer so fast that we could barely keep up. We had hardly spoken the word “Amen” when he began to speak.

“Okay, everyone, listen. I’ve got some really exciting news to tell you!” Then he paused, deciding he would keep us in suspense.

“What is it, Dad?” inquired twelve-year-old Sarah.

“Well. . . we’re going on vacation. . .  to a very special place.” cabins-on-a-lake

“Ooh, Daddy,” gushed ten-year-old Stephanie, “are we going to the cabin again — the one where your boat got blown away?”

“Nope,” laughed Mike,”that’s not it.”

????????????????????????????????????????“Are we going to see the mountain where the presidents are?” guessed Sarah.”

“Mount Rushmore? Nope. That’s not it, either.”

Everyone became silent, out of guesses as to where it might be.

“Okay, dear,” I said, “we give up. Why don’t you tell us, for goodness’ sake?”

“Alright. We’re going to some place that you’ve always wanted to go, some place that they call the happiest place on earth.”

“Where, Daddy? Where?” Stephanie was pulling at her father’s arm.

I gasped, looking at my husband with wonder. “Are you kidding? Disneyworld? We’re going to disney world image 5Disneyworld?”

“Yep, Disneyworld.” He grinned at me, nodding his head.

By now both the girls were out of their chairs, jumping up and down with excitement. My husband told us the story. His sister Diane had won four tickets for a trip to Disneyworld with all the accommodations which she had no use for. She offered them to Mike. He offered to buy them at half-price (which is a steal, to say the least). He couldn’t say no to such a fortuitous deal that practically fell into his lap.

Disneyworld! It was the place where I had dreamed of going to as a young girl and I had always longed to bring our children there, but we could never afford it. Now fate was handing us the chance to make my dreams come true at last. It was July and our vacation was scheduled for November. As a matter of fact, we would be in Florida on Thanksgiving Day. But we were comforted by the fact that the hurricane season would be over by then. Our son Joe, was in college, so he didn’t want to take the time off to come with us.

airplaneThe months flew by, and before long we were on the airplane, landing in Orlando, Florida. We had been fortunate with our plane tickets, also. We actually were supposed to land in Texas and then take another flight to Florida, but the airline made a mistake with our seating assignments by not giving us four seats together. When I telephoned to confirm our flight, I discovered the error and complained about the mix-up, at which time they ended up giving us a direct flight to Orlando, and not only that, we were given first-class tickets and landed twelve hours sooner than we would have originally. So Providence was on our side from the beginning.

After we rented a car and checked into our hotel room, we decided we would spend the rest of the day just relaxing by the pool at the hotel. The next day we decided to go to see the Magic Kingdom first.

“Look, girls,” I pointed out, as we came closer to the amusement park. “We’ll have to take the big paddlemonorail boat across the lake to the Magic Kingdom, or we can take the monorail that goes over the tracks high above the trees. Which one should we take?”

“The paddle boat,” shouted Stephanie.

“The train,” shouted Sarah.

“Well, Mom, I guess it’s up to you,” said my husband, as we were pulling into the parking lot.

I knew which one I wanted to take. The big paddle boat was painted white, and it looked just like the river boat right out of the movie Showboat.

“Let’s take the paddle boat.”

“Mom wants to take the paddle boat, girls, so that’s what we’ll do.”

We parked the car and walked over to where we had to pay for the park tickets. We had already bought four-day passes for a discount price at the hotel, so we showed our passes there and were each given bracelets to wear. Then we went to the dock and waited with all the other tourists for the paddle boat to come and pick us up.

When it finally arrived, the girls were so excited they could barely contain themselves.

“It’s a double-decker, Mom. Can we go on the top deck, please?” begged Sarah, pulling at my arm.

paddle boat 10“Sure, Honey, I think we could manage that. What do you think, dear?” I looked at my husband, expecting a positive answer.

“Yep, let’s go.

I grabbed Stephanie’s hand, not wanting her to get lost in the crowd, and began to climb the steps to the top deck. magic kingdom 500We had no sooner arrived on the second deck when the whistle blew and the paddle boat began to move through the water toward the other side of the lake where the Magic Kingdom was located.

After five minutes of traveling on the water, the Magic Kingdom came into view and it was so beautiful. It was even more beautiful than I had ever imagined it would be. Then some music began to play from some hidden speakers located all around us. After a few bars, I recognized the tune immediately and a lump formed in my throat, while tears threatened to spill from my eyes. The music was “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

In that moment, I thought, “I finally made it here. My childhood dream has come true at last, and I’m able to share it with my daughters, and I know they’ll remember it forever.”

I was so happy. All I wanted to do was relish the experience because I knew that this particular moment in time would never return again and I would never feel exactly the same way again. For very seldom is one able to experience their dream vacation of a lifetime —  even though it happens forty years later than it was wished for — and sometimes dreams really do come true.

wish star


When you wish upon a star

Makes no difference who you are

Anything your heart desires

Will come to you

 

If your heart is in your dream

No request is too extreme

When you wish upon a star

As dreamers do

 

Fate is kind

She brings to those to love

The sweet fulfillment of

Their secret longing

 

Like a bolt out of the blue

Fate steps in and sees you through

When you wish upon a star

Your dreams come true

 

(Lyrics by Ned Washington)

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”  ~ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

 

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This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post. If you’d like more information about this event, please click here:

That Unforgettable Journey

Essence of Reminiscence – Week 4 – Random: “Every Time I See Candy Dots on Paper . . . “

 

I was the middle child of seven children. As you can well imagine, growing up in such a big family meant that we didn’t exactly live in the lap of luxury. As a matter of fact, we spent most of our childhood living in a housing project in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to the fact that our father was very ill, and our mother not only had to take care of a sick husband, but seven children as well. But when you grow up not knowing what you’re missing, wearing the hand-me-downs from two cousins and two sisters before you seemed to be the normal way of life, and you didn’t even mind it when your mother patched over the already-there patches on your favorite pair of jeans. It’s just the way it was. We made do with what we had, and if we went to bed with our tummies not quite full enough, we didn’t mind so much, because at least we had each other to commiserate with. Not that we ever starved — but let’s just say that we never had leftovers!

But the day of the week that we all lived for was Sunday, because Sunday was the day that Grandma and Grandpa came to visit.

german folk songThese were my mom’s parents, and they were German through and through, having immigrated from Germany when they were both in their teens. Anyway, I remember how my Grandma and Grandpa would always speak a smattering of German words, and especially I remember how my Grandma would always call me “Liebchen.” She even taught me how to sing the German folk song, “Du, du liegst mir im Herzen,” but the only thing that I can remember about it is that the first phrase means: “You, you are in my heart,” and she would sing it with me all the time. Ah, how I loved singing that song with Grandma!

My Grandpa was such a trickster and we loved him so. He loved to chew snuff, and whenever Sunday rolled around, Mom would always take out the coffee can which she stored underneath the sink, and place it on the floor next to his favorite chair so he could spit out his snuff into it. He copenhagen snuffused to hold out his snuff-box to us kids and say, “Here, here, want some? It’s candy.” And then this sly grin would come across his face while he waited for one of us to try some. And if perchance one of us kids would actually try to take him up on his offer by trying to take some snuff out his box, he would gently slap their fingers, pull the box away, and say, “Too late! Too late!” as he chuckled, shaking his head, and then he’d hobble away on his cane with a wicked little grin on his face. It’s funny. We always knew what he was going to do, but it never failed – someone always tried to take snuff out of the box. I think we all just wanted to play this little game with him.

But I think one of the reasons that we kids loved Sunday the most was because after Sunday dinner, when all the dishes were washed, dried, and put away, Grandpa would give each of us a dime. Now I know that today a dime won’t buy much, but fifty years ago, a dime bought plenty. So Mom and Grandma would take us children for a stroll down to the local candy store. And yes, that’s what it was called back then. It was then that we were each able to spend the precious money that Grandpa had given. I think Mom went just because she was happy to get out of the house, but we kids definitely went solely for the candy! After all, kids will be kids, right?

When we arrived at our destination, each of us would carefully looked over all of the candies displayed on the shelves lined up behind the glass showcase they were in. There were so many choices, so many ways to mix and match! I was always very thrifty with my dime and tried to get the kinds of candy where you could buy two or three pieces for a penny, thereby ending up with more than just ten pieces of candy by the time I had spent the entire dime.

candy dotsRemember the little sugary dots of candy that were stuck to the paper? That was my favorite kind of candy to buy. It just seemed so economical to buy that candy. I mean, you could get an entire long strip of paper with so many dots of candy on it for only one cent! It just made so much sense to me to buy that candy, right? And it was so delicious!

So now, whenever I come across those little sugary dots of candy on strips of paper, it brings me back to those carefree days of my childhood; to a time when all I had to worry about was how I was going to spend ten pennies. And it makes me long for those days that I spent with my Grandma and Grandpa. How I wish I had them back again. How I wish they could have known my husband and children and that they, in turn, could have known them.

If I had only known back then how precious those days would be to me now, perhaps I would have savored them even more. I tell my children, who are amazing and wonderful young adults – live life to the fullest; don’t rush so much; remember that tomorrow may never come; etc. etc. etc. But I don’t know if they hear me. After all, they have a full life ahead of them. And maybe I didn’t listen to my mother at that age, either.

But there is one thing that I do know — memories are forever and they will live on inside each of us. And my heart warms, smiling as I remember each precious one.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. ~ Alex Haley

 

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This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post.

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