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Sunday, November 3, 2013

When We Were Loved

Too bad we can’t remember our earliest days when, if we were so blessed, we enjoyed the love, care and comfort of our parents and grandparents. Why is it the mind can’t recall those days when our eyes were first opened to a new world? I’m thinking of that because of all the pictures I find on Facebook of the new children in our families. They will be able to see what their lives were like in those early days. I, on the other hand, have only a few faded colorless photographs. Joycie in her baby carriage. Joycie posing with Daddy in their Sunday best, her hand in his. Then the beginnings of memory, - a new tricycle, my legs not quite long enough to reach the pedal on the down curve. I managed to make it work by kicking the top pedal. Oh, how wheels become an early fascination! And I do remember that.

I have my baby book too. In it are the first pictures of me. One, {no doubt the first,) wide-eyed little face has beneath it a small clipping that Mother cut out from some periodical. It says, 
What is the little one thinking about?
Very wonderful things, no doubt!
My mother gave me credit for having thoughts, even though I was not yet able to express them in a new language. How I cherish the idea that we can think at any age. And our thoughts are ours, although the modern Facebook fans like to share them with the world. Even in our years of dotage this is true. We can’t escape the business of thinking, though too often we may want to let our thoughts fade away in sleep and dreams.

I must confess, the coming generation of babies who are related to me, near or distant, are sweet to see, but they also give me a sense of distance. I feel loved and appreciated by my children but they and their own offspring, just a few years hence, make me feel aged. “Watch out for the step, Grandma!” “Drive carefully, Grandma!” “What can I get for you, Grandma?” And some even read my blogs and comment on them. I willingly soak up their attentions.

Wally G. hated old age with a passion. Maybe that’s why he only lived to the age of 66. If he had stayed, what stories he could tell! If only he had written a blog! And Robby too. He did live to be nearly 91 and I loved to listen to his stories. But when we’d go to family dinner parties the table would be buzzing with the chatter of young people at one end, talking about what interested them. Robby used to come home in a shadow of sadness. He’d say, “We are loved, I know, but after they’ve kissed me on the way in I become a fixture at the end of the table, or in an armchair off to one side. No one comes over to ask me about my life, and even though it’s not much to talk about now, I could tell them so much about years past! It’s all interesting too, and I can tell it well because I was a teacher. But I can’t capture their attention now like I could my students.” His voice would drift off, and again he’d say softly, “I have so much I’d like to share with them, but they’re too busy with their own lives, and...well, that’s understandable.”

I too was guilty. I would give anything now to be able to sit down with my grandparents and great grandparents and ply them with questions! I am grateful for certain people in the family who shared bits and pieces of their lives on paper. Thank goodness for the few historians in a family! I have a few old photographs, even fewer of ones I can’t place, but they tell so little! I want to hear the particulars, like when Great Grandpa Thomas Pulford at the age of eight came across the Atlantic Ocean from England with his family. I did get to sit by his rocking chair and hear things like that when I was a young child, but there’s so much more I want to know! Most of the things in my house have a history too. I dread thinking that they’ll end up in the Good Will shop and no one will know how they figured into my life.

What’s really important is not the history. Memories cling too fast to us. They must have the immediacy of feelings to go with them. Yet, I’ll try. I’m working on a book for my children and theirs, to tell what I do know of our forebears, but my days go by and seem crowded with other interests. Time is running out. There should be balance between the past and present, even though the future remains in front of us like a huge question mark.

Today I feel loved. What is this no-longer-a-“little one” thinking about? Well, if you’ve read this far, you know.

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