Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Golden Years

 Originally published April 23, 2008...

As I have mentioned in other posts, my parents divorced when I was about a year or so old. Then, they remarried and divorced again by the time I was 3. My father obtained custody of me.

The only memory I retained of my mother is this: I am at the kitchen table with one or two other children. An older woman (my grandmother?) is at the sink. My mother is leaving out the back door (which was in the kitchen) and waving “bye, bye”. I clung to this memory my entire life. Now, I have new memories of my mother and this one is not so desperate any more.


According to various family members, my father tried to take care of me himself. Apparently, he found it to be too much. It was only a few months before he left me with his mother to raise until he remarried when I was 7 1/2.

I can understand why he might find it too much – I was a “hand full”. I have one memory of my father from this time. It is dinner time and he has cooked squash as part of the meal. I hated squash and was having none of it. He tried the old “there are starving children in …” line and I replied “They can have mine, Daddy!” I remember him just looking at me, speechless. I don’t remember anything more of this scenario, but I will wager that I did not eat that squash. (Nowadays, I love squash.)

So, I went to live with my grandmother. I call this time in my life (age 3 to 7 1/2) the “The Golden Years”. It was the happiest time in my life in spite of missing my mother and my father. I never got to see my mother, but my father would visit whenever he could. I loved horses with a passion and he would bring me those Breyer brand plastic molded models of horses. They are quite well made and I loved them. I ended up with quite a collection. The were my most prized possession because not only were they horses, but they were from my Daddy!

I called my grandmother “Ma Ma” (pronounced the Southern way – “mamaw”) Ma Ma was quite a woman. I do not remember her ever hitting me. Yet, I remember her getting her way…my teeth got brushed…I got my bath despite my resistance (smile)…etc. She hugged me a lot. She taught me things. Pa Pa (my step grandfather) caught ground squirrels for me and taught me to catch horned toads. I would bring the horned toads into the house to show Ma Ma and she would tell me “How wonderful! They are good at catching bugs in the garden. Why don’t you take it out to the garden to eat bugs for me?” I kept catching them for her because I thought I was helping…I think I realize now that she was just being nice and only wanted them out of her house! I have many happy memories from this time in my life.

Perhaps, in the future, in between the stories of the bad parts of my life, I will post one of these happy memories. You know, something to sustain me as I return to the difficult times. I think it is important to remember that we have some good things in our past as well as the bad. By remembering the good stories of our life, we get to keep them. No one can take them from us so long as we hold to them. It also helps keep balance in attitude.

Some of the things she taught me have stayed with me. She taught me to appreciate what I have and to waste nothing. She taught me to love my family in the foods I prepare and the things I do for them. My grand mother remains my chosen role model. She is one of the lights in my life and I miss her very much.

She passed away about 15 years ago, and I still think of her often. Sometimes, I think I can feel her nearby. I hope I can live up to her legacy. She was wise and strong.

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