I received a photo and text from my oldest daughter on Tuesday that at first made me laugh, then whisked me down memory lane forty-two years and just as quickly, jerked me into the present and just on the cusp of shedding big whopping mama tears on my iPhone.
Maybe it was because it has been raining for three weeks, or maybe it was because my husband inadvertently forgot how to read labels and put a lethal amount of pepper in our spaghetti sauce, or maybe it was because I had a milestone birthday last week, or maybe it was because I am beginning to have unexpected moments of mourning my youth. I don’t know and, honestly, really can’t explain the sanity of a picture of sheets putting me over the edge. Sheets!
But something real definitely triggered emotions within me seeing those “oh so 70’s” psychedelic sheets. The very same sheets that I bought for the girls’ twin beds when we moved to New Jersey. The ones that the pink and orange crazed decorator in me loved so much. And you guessed it, I just had to continue the theme by buying extras to make curtains.
Maybe those sheets reminded me that I was once young, hip and full of surprises. They reminded me that the children are gone, grown and on their own. No more bedrooms to decorate, clothes to pick up, or beds to make. How fast it all went. And where oh where did that 70’s girl go?
P.S. Yes, I still do have one. I use it to carry leaves to the leaf pile in the fall.
Whoosh! A great big recking ball is smashing, smashing my childhood memories. With each giant swing it is right now as I write, taking down Roosevelt Elementary School on LaBelle View in Steubenville, Ohio. Or at least this growing pile of wreckage is playing havoc, trying to obliterate my time within its rooms.
Whoosh! The dark red brick walls that weathered six feet snow drifts, baking sun and mis-guided baseballs rebounding off the impressive structure. Gone.
Whoosh! The wooden floors that always smelled of linseed and Pinesol that always squeaked a chorus of ‘foot’ notes. Gone.
Whoosh! The piercing sound of the siren that let us know we had to fly up the two blocks from home as fast as our legs would allow on those days we lingered too long at breakfast. Gone.
Whoosh! My wooden desk that someone decided to immortalize with his initials “PJ” that always filled with my rubber erasure dust. Gone.
Whoosh! The cement steps we ran down at noon to go home for lunch, my girlfriends peeling off at each house they called home. Mothers would always be there with a hot lunch waiting and a kiss goodbye at the end of the hour. Gone.
Whoosh! The second floor windowsill my friend Donna and I leaned from to wave goodbye to her dad’s cousin, Dean Martin with Jerry Lewis after they visited our school. I so hoped to get discovered and go to Hollywood. Gone.
Whoosh! Gone are the memories of leaving the blue collar steel town, filled with smoke from the mills that covered the tall statue of General Von Steuben in front of the court house.
It was 1945. I was six years old. I was close to death.
Snow was so high that year. I remember that. I also remember my older brother’s friend chasing me and putting snow balls down my back. What did I know. I stayed out in our backyard with my brother for hours enjoying the snow in freezing temperatures in wet clothes.
They say you can’t get sick by getting cold, but I did. I had influenza and double pneumonia at the same time. My fever spiked to 106 and in the miraculous days when doctors made house calls, I had two doctors sitting by my side through the night for two days. One doctor, Dr. Sink, had delivered my mother in 1907 and the other, Dr. Healy, called him in to help. They both practiced homeopathy.
I only remember being in my room and seeing these men sitting in high back chairs near my bed and not really caring about much except being hot and wanting to sleep.
How long I was that way, I don’t know, but I do remember hearing the loud unfamiliar sound of tick, tick, tick when I finally opened my eyes. I looked. There on my small side table was a little clock made of green glass. Bright green glass with gold riming the hands of the clock. I closed my eyes again and went back to sleep with the tick, tick, tick soothing my fevered dreams.
Thank you Aunt Thelma where ever you are. Sorry I never told you how much I loved the clock. Or maybe I did and in my over-fifty state don’t remember. But do know I found that clock again today and it is wound, polished and set to 2012 time ready to sooth my dreams tonight. Tick, tick, tick. And life goes on.
As for my Berlin connection, my daughter and grandson and I visited Berlin in 2008 during Octoberfest. We stayed at The Upstalsbloom Hotel in East Germany close to the rail lines that took us to Alexanderplatz and access to all points in Berlin. We took the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus around the city and saw the best of Berlin. It is the easiest way to independently tour the city highlights.
Berlin is such a beautiful city that has been reenergized in the best architectural way. They even have left a few WWII buildings in their bombed condition for remembrance of what humanity can do to one another. The Holocaust Museum is free to all visitors and is a moving testament to the past history of what can easily happen in a society driven by a mad man.
So I leave my memories of Ursula with this posting and have to move on to today. But I will never again forget and set aside my letters from Ursula. Back in the Balfour box they go again, but this time not forgotten. I promise.