Gathering

This post is inspired by:

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #18: Gathering

https://onewomansquest.org/2018/10/08/v-j-s-weekly-challenge-18-gathering/

Turning my attention toward the positive this week…

I am gathering source material. I like the way that sounds…source material. For a very long story about “the house” — or rather, our home, of over 36 years. As I have written about in previous posts (Nest , Photos), my husband and I downsized and moved to a condo a couple of years ago. It was probably the most exhausting thing I have ever done (besides giving birth to two 9 lb+ babies, but that didn’t take as long).

I was more than ready to move. However, our adult children (who had moved out over a decade earlier) were clearly NOT ready for us to move. Especially our daughter. Our nest was their nest, empty (of them) or not. The reality of no childhood home to return to for their (infrequent) visits was jolting. Did they try to talk us out of it? Absolutely not. But their emotional ties were evident. “Coming down the stairs on Christmas morning” together…(every single year) would come to an end. The “remember whens” without the familiar backdrop of home…hard to imagine. Our new grandson would not be able to run around in his mama’s old backyard.

On the final day before the sale, I toured the empty house on facetime with my long distance 34 year old daughter.  We shared a last look at the rooms she grew up in…and some memories of each. Both of us in tears.

I then realized the enormity of this home’s real significance in our lives. But mostly in our kids’ lives. This surprised me since I never had any deep emotional ties to my childhood homes. None at all. I could not fully understand their attachment. How deep it is.

I am going to write about those 36 1/2 years. For them. For us. For me. A story…the house that became a home and what happened. I am very curious to see what evolves.

But first I need to begin gathering my materials (after shopping at my favorite office supply store):

  • Hanging file folders. One for each year – to sort & organize.

gathering files

  • Calendars for 37 years – chronicling all our activities. Each one a diary in itself.

calendars

 

  • Photographs. Lots.

gatheringphotos

  • Journals.
  • Letters – still gathering.
  • File boxes of house receipts and info that escaped shredding.

Once gathered, let the writing begin.

And…
I am so glad I saved all this stuff!

 

Attention

This post was inspired by:

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #17: Attention

https://onewomansquest.org/2018/10/01/v-j-s-weekly-challenge-17-attention/

~~~

“Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me!”

My 7 year old daughter, eyes narrowed, stamping her foot for emphasis, shouted. I was circling our small deck operating a camcorder; videotaping family fun: her, her little brother and my sister (who was visiting). She knew I was distracted. Focused on the view through the camera lens. This was almost 30 years ago.

My 2 year old son was capturing most of the attention, as 2 year olds often do – throwing a ball, giggling, running back & forth. Adorable and scene stealing.  In the video, my daughter’s face jumps in and out of view as she tries to get in on the action. After all, she had the “floor” – and family video time – all to herself for 5 years. Although equally adorable, she now had to share the family stage.

It’s hard to give up that attention to an unasked-for little person who bursts upon the scene for no apparent reason. “Remember the good old days?” she asked quite wistfully every once in a while when he was a newborn. It didn’t take long, however, until she loved her little brother deeply and fiercely…and slowly learned to share time…and attention…with him. She knew there was more than enough love to go around.

I often commiserated with her…I agreed it’s not easy – and it’s often confusing – being the oldest. By the time I was 7, I had 2 little sisters & 1 little brother. One more brother arrived when I was 14.

From a very early age I discovered that attracting my parents’ (positive) attention could be tricky. And elusive. Especially my mother’s. Becoming her helper – that’s what seemed to work. At least on the surface. Household chores and taking care of my siblings. Worthy lessons to learn, I suppose. I did leap into independent life with a full skill set.

andrea profile

However, my childhood was much more about paying very close attention to my mother. All the time. Watching. Reading her mood. Her facial expressions. Body language. Her tone of voice. Listening. Interpreting.  I developed a keen second sense for what she needed – from me – to stay…steady and okay. And not get mad. Or sad. Or disappointed. I usually got it right. But even so, I was never completely sure. Did I miss anything?

Over the years, I became a confident observer and listener.  Again, worthy skills to develop – becoming a human radar of sorts – with deepening intuition and vigilant attention to details. Which has been valuable in my personal, as well as professional life. Paying attention paid off. But not without cost.

I would never have dreamed of shouting out “Pay attention to me!” to my mother. Never in a million years.
But I am profoundly grateful that my daughter felt safe enough to do so. And did.