What I Kept

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Not only was moving hard, but getting ready to move forced me to go through every single little thing in my home. Junk drawers? Do you have junk drawers? I can’t believe how hard it was for me to let go of the stuff in my junk drawers.

Did I need to take all the birthday candles stuffed in a drawer in the kitchen that the I might need it someday mindset wouldn’t let go. I inherited those what ifs from my mom. She and her family went through the great depression and it was something none of them forgot. Many people of that age group kept everything. But candles? Couldn’t I buy them where we moved? And birthday candles are not a big purchase but yet….

When my mom died I had so many items left from her that were from the times she grew up in, and the house in which I grew up for part of my life, my Grandma Krock’s house. None of them were worth anything to anyone. There was no monetary value and now I had to weed them out or let go of them all. There were two old unsightly pieces that I struggled with.

One was a mirror that was battered and cloudy and didn’t enhance much. I had the mirror hanging outside my bathroom door. It was a mirror that for as long as I could remember, hung over the sink in my grandmother’s house, which became my mom’s house. I imagine they put it there so they could see behind them what was happening while doing the dishes, because otherwise they would have been looking at a blank wall. How boring would that have been? I don’t know why that mirror touched me so much.

I wanted to bring it along to my new home. I’m sorry I didn’t. I guess the writer in me and the dreamer in me imagined all the mirror could reveal to us about the happenings in that home. What would one see if they could looked in the mirror, and the mirror revealed the secrets of the past occupants ? I took a picture of the mirror, thanked it for it’s journey with our family, and left it behind.

Sitting on a shelf on my porch was an old lantern that doesn’t work anymore, or maybe it would if I could find a vintage battery for it. That old battered lantern is now sitting on my kitchen table by the window. My Uncle Frank, and I will write about him later on the year, but my Uncle Frank who was a like a dad to me too, always carried that lantern. I can see him with it in his hands. He used it to check on the cows and horses and chickens at night. It always sat by the door. He never wanted a new one. It lighted his way through good times and bad. It kept him safe on his chores in the dark and there were many. He lighted the way for me when I would walk at night between the neighbors when I was little, and it lit up the house when the electricity failed.

I kept the lantern and I have it sitting where I do for it to remind us of the light in our lives. The light from the past reminds me that it lights the way to the future.

The Guiding Light

Those are my heart saves. What are yours? The heart doesn’t pick because of money or fame, it chooses wisely that which connects us to who we were, where we came from and who we have the possibility of becoming because of our those who went before us. We need to treasure and hold that dear.

A Yearning For My Front Steps

This morning I have an inexplicable yearning to go outside and sit on my front steps and breathe in life.

It is the appearance of the sun in what has been a cold and bleak and cloudy Minnesota which brings to mind spring and thoughts of flowers and warm weather. However, I can’t explain my feeling that I need a front step sit. I have a perfectly good outside porch to enjoy but something in me tells me I need steps.

Though the sun is shining today my front steps and porch are crusted with ice. It is still winter and there is still snow on the ground. I like the beauty of winter as long as I don’t have to haul my old body outside. The pull is real to feel the fresh air on my face so I may dash out, raise my face to the sun and dash back inside to the warmth of my fireplace. Still, I feel the call of the front steps or the back steps for a peaceful sit.

Outdoor furniture awaits my porch sitting so why would I abandon that in place of the front steps? I think it has to do with my past and memories.

Living at my grandmothers and then when my family moved, we didn’t have fancy outdoor furniture. We would go outside and sit on the steps and talk and enjoy the evening. The front steps were better than the back steps because you could chat with those passing by or you could wave at the cars going by. Occasionally they would stop and talk.

There were interesting views. At my grandmother’s house I sat on the front steps and watched the trains go by or watched the animals. My mom or uncles would come in from the chores or the garden and we would talk for hours on the front steps. At our house my dad would sit with me as we watched the neighbor kids play or visited with those in the neighborhood, sometimes calling across the street. There were no cell phones or outdoor phones to distract us.

I do sit on my front concrete steps occasionally in this day and age for a quick moment when I am shaking out a rug or waiting for someone to pick me up, but most of the time I sit on my comfy chair on my outdoor porch or my patio. I have to say that for some reason it isn’t the same. Perhaps because of the front step memories.

I have no good explanation for yearning for my front steps unless it is perhaps missing those that used to share my experience. I also shared many front step conversations with my best girlfriends. If those steps could talk they would reveal so much about the past lives of the step sitters.

Perhaps when the ice is gone I will forgo my porch and patio for an occasional step sitting. I have a feeling it will be a good way to breathe and appreciate the simple life of the past,

“A journey to a thousand miles begins with one step.” –John F.Kennedy

Only The Lonely, As In Child

Something About Nothing in The Albert Lea Tribune the week of April 17, 2017

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Whoopie! There is an Only Child Day, and I happen to be an only child! We have a day to celebrate so we don’t have to feel bad anymore when all those people post their pictures on Siblings Day. But what do we do with an only child day?

I think there are many misconceptions about only children. One of the ideas is that only children are spoiled. I was spoiled when I was an only child, but I think it had more to do with the fact that I was born to parents who were in their 40s who knew I would be the only child they ever had. Also, they lost twins earlier in their marriage. Contributing to the spoiling was perhaps the fact I was left with family or alone a lot because my parents were busy working.

There were perks of being an only child. I had a lot of toys. I didn’t have to vie with siblings for attention. In my case, I lived my early years in a household with a grandmother and an uncle who also — especially my uncle — did many special things for me.

He made me my own ice skating rink in the family garden. I had a swing and a homemade teeter-totter and a merry-go-round. My uncle also built me a winter slide from the top of the hay rack, which let me slide down the track across the entire pasture. If I think about that now, I can’t imagine anyone would let their child slide on a homemade contraption like that for safety’s sake today. It’s amazing I survived and never once did the sled leave the track.

I have memories of helping load hay and learning how to drive a small tractor. I spent a great deal of time with my uncle when my parents were working.

As a teenager, I spent most of my time either alone or with my friends. My parents were busy taking care of my grandparents and uncles and running their shoe store. Those who envied my spoiled life or those adults that blamed my parents because I was spoiled, didn’t see the other side of the picture.

I had a wonderful life as I grew up, but being an only child also has its ups and downs.

I spent much of my time with adults, so I learned to talk to other adults, which helped when I became an adult, or in volunteer activities when I was a teenager. I learned to handle death, as it was never hidden from me when a family member died, and I was included in plans. I got to travel with my parents, although at the time I didn’t appreciate all I got to see because I didn’t have other kids to mingle with on our journeys, unless we were visiting relatives. And, I didn’t have to fight with my siblings for toys, bedrooms, time with parents, television shows and whatever it is siblings fight about. I have imagination because I spent so much time playing by myself.

I still feel the downside to being an only child. It can be a lonely life. I spent so much time alone that as an adult in my younger years I did not like being alone. I wish I could experience the feelings others have for their sibling being love or hate or ambivalence. When it came time to making decisions for my mom, I was alone in the decision-making process.

I miss having a brother and sister to share memories with — good times and bad. Most of my mother’s and father’s close family are gone. I miss family get togethers at holidays with other relatives. And I must admit I don’t understand when brothers and sisters do not keep their connection going throughout their life.

My friends had to become my brothers and sisters. I don’t know how I would feel about a brother or sister family member, but I would imagine it is the way I feel about some of my friends. However, there still is a difference as friends have their own siblings and families they spend holidays with.

My being an only child influenced how many children I had. I did not want to have only one child because I felt it was a lonely life after your parents are gone. I am fortunate to have three children and five grandchildren. I still have family.

Can you miss what you never had? I do. Or maybe it is the idea of what could have been and what I see with others who are blessed with siblings. Sibling love is not always rosy, but usually that close family member has your back when the chips are down. In spite of the fights and feuds, the love is there.

I can’t quite figure out how to celebrate Only Child Day. Buy myself a gift? Buy a lottery ticket? Do something I did as a child by myself?

I think I want to celebrate next year and find another only child to share the day with. It’s more fun when there is two instead of one.