This post inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo
The prompt: Sunrise
I am not the morning person in the family. Never have been. Prying my eyes open before coffee for any useful purpose…not advisable. Focusing on anything that early in the day would not lead to my best work….
In search of a suitable photo for this challenge, I knew just where to look. My husband – definitely a morning person – even a cheerful morning person at that – had just what I was looking for. And graciously agreed to contribute the following photos, taken on his morning walks before work.
Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week – Colorful
IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO (OR MORE) THAT HAVE COLORFUL SUBJECTS.
The countdown to spring weather continues…getting more and more intense with each snowy, freezing cold day. At least in my neighborhood.
As I was wandering down the aisles at the local discount store recently…
Past the fleece gloves. Leather gloves. Mittens.
Ear warmers. Neck warmers. Hand warmers.
Long knit scarves. Boot socks. Ice scrapers.
And the discounted Christmas elf knick knacks and dust covered heart shaped boxes of expired Valentine’s candy…
I spotted the following display…
Papa showed me how to play the classic simple song. A waltz actually. On his piano.
Sitting right beside me. Just the 2 of us.
At his big old house in Cincinnati, Ohio. One warm day in the 1960’s during a rare family visit.
I was only 8 years old. I wish it had been the first of many lessons.
Papa, my paternal grandfather, was born March 9, 1886 in Chicago, Illinois. The middle child of five. I don’t know much about his early life except he met Grammy when passing through her small rural Tennessee town. He often traveled by train from Cincinnati, working as a lumber inspector for his brother’s company. He rented a room in my grandmother’s childhood home during stops in Graysville. He eventually won her over…and that was that!
Papa and Grammy married and raised my father and his older sister in Cincinnati, where Papa owned and operated a lumber company. No small feat for a man with only an 8th grade education.
I probably saw Papa maybe a dozen times before he died unexpectedly at the age of 78. Cincinnati was very far away from where I lived on the east coast. Visits did not happen often. The last one was a whirlwind car trip a few weeks before he died.
What do I remember about Papa?
He was a short quiet man with kind brown eyes. Papa loved to put on his cap and go for long walks. Sometimes he asked me – just me! – to join him. During one of those walks, he stopped, plucked a wide blade of grass from a nearby patch and carefully positioned it between the sides of his thumbs. He pressed his thumbs together…held them up to his mouth, took a deep breath, puffed out his cheeks…and blew out…. It whistled!
Was this magic?
He then plucked one for me. And waited calmly until I was able to make it whistle all by myself.
I’m (obviously) still impressed all these years later.
I learned how to play chopsticks on the piano during one long…patient…lesson with him. Later, in their sunny kitchen, we’d sit across from each other by the window and play double solitaire. Or a new card game he taught me called 7Up. At the metal table with the shiny sides and checkered formica top.
Sadly our connection was short lived, but fortunately he left his loving stamp on my memory…and my heart.
Happy Birthday Papa!
[ps…Papa would be thrilled to know…that coincidentally…his middle name is the same as his great great grandson’s first name…and…also coincidentally…they were both born on the 9th day of the month…]
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
Mother Goose Rhymes, Grandma Moses’ poems, Little Golden Books, Nancy Drew’s many adventures, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Pippi Longstocking….
All stories I craved as a child. Gobbling them up one after the other.
Curiosity. Escape. Imagination.
Or maybe because I loved to read.
Storybooks drew me in as nothing else could.
My public elementary school was part of the Scholastic Books program. Students could order paperback books for 25¢ or 35¢ each. Sized just right for a 10 year old with titles such as Encyclopedia Brown…Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine…Just Plain Maggie. To name just a few. Piled high on tables in the gym on delivery day. I couldn’t wait.
The school library drew me to its stories as well. Shelves of biographies…”Childhoods of Famous Americans”…were a magnet. Hardcover books mostly about boys (Nathan Hale & Abe Lincoln come to mind), but I did find some about girls. Clara Barton. Helen Keller. Dolly Madison. I didn’t discriminate at the age of 10 or 11 or 12. I read them all. Fascinated by their life stories.
Only famous people had their stories told…at least that’s what I may have assumed. But perhaps it sparked my own urge for story telling. At least in the privacy of my diaries. And letters. Later, the journals kept in college and beyond. Recording my story such as it was. Often painful. And hard to believe. Even upon reading years later. The telling…written for my eyes only…crucial. Therapeutic. I see that now. Important…even though I certainly wasn’t famous.
Years later I filled notebooks with anecdotes, observations…and stories yet again. But this time about my own children. And our family, as it grew and changed…and then grew and changed some more. A natural continuation of my childhood storytelling. About what happened.
This time, though, joyful. Still striving to capture the essence in a quick pair of sentences…or a paragraph. One page. Maybe two. The setting. The conversation. The humor. The love. The challenges. The delight.
Catching the stories on the page before one day wove into the next. Leaving me breathless to get it on paper. Their imaginations. Their curiosity. And uniqueness. From foot stomping “do by self” episodes to impromptu conversations about “where do babies come from?” To shopping for clothes. Playing with imaginary basketball teams in the driveway. Getting ready for school. Accidentally shaving off half an eyebrow. Navigating the minefield that is adolescence. How a seven year old plans the future. In her own imaginative way.
Endless stories every day. I wrote when I could. So glad I did.
We are, after all, our stories.
This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #37: Story