|My preschool class at the Methodist Church|
After my youngest sister finished grammar school and we moved into a "suburban" home near my grandmother and two of our uncles, my mother went to work for the federal government.
|My Oklahoma cousins, my sisters and me at the house beside the railroad tracks (before suburbia)|
|Our home in "suburbia" where my mom still lives|
I grew up in small town America, in one of the most beautiful parts of the country--the mountains of Southwestern Virginia. We enjoyed picture perfect Christmases with neighborhood carolers and, often when we were little, with personal visits on Christmas Eve from Santa Claus, i.e., our great-uncle who worked for the town newspaper formerly owned by his father. Our great-uncle Joe was a volunteer fire fighter and served as Santa in our small town for 50 years or longer.
|Santa (aka Uncle Joe) visits my sisters and me on Christmas Eve at our grandmother's house!|
Spring is beautiful but a tricky season in the mountains, warm days and cold ones intermixed. Spring mainly meant the tulips and dogwoods in the yard bloomed, Daddy had to start mowing the lawn again on Wednesday afternoons, and the end of the school year was approaching. For me, it also meant my hay fever would begin in earnest, and I'd walk around with a fistful of tissues.
I remember summer as being perfect-- the streets full of kids to play with, running through the water sprinkler or swimming in the neighbor's pool on really hot days, visits from out-of-state cousins, long evenings of Hide and Seek or Kick the Can, extending across multiple contiguous lawns in the neighborhood while the adults sat out on my grandmother's patio loosely monitoring our whereabouts. As darkness fell, the lightning bugs would appear creating their own light show if they managed to elude our grubby hands and old mayonnaise jars. I was also free to wile away hours during the heat of the day, lying on a cot in the cool basement, reading my books. The days might be hot but once the sun disappeared behind the mountain ridges, the sweaters came out.
While fall meant the end of summer fun, I enjoyed returning to school, seeing school friends who didn't live in my neighborhood, and getting new clothes and school shoes each year. Fall meant the inky fresh smell of the new Sears catalog, which my sisters and I pored over although we rarely purchased any clothes from there. My dad believed in patronizing local clothing stores, and my mother made some of our new outfits to cut down on the cost of clothing three girls.
|I'm wearing navy blue jumper Mother made me.|
I could go on and on with details of my ordinary life where things were predictable and my sisters and I were sheltered from life's harsher realities. I'm now incredibly grateful for this stability, this happy childhood to build my life on. And when horrific events occur, such as the Boston Marathon bombing or the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, I am saddened that the ordinary lives of so many disappeared in the blink of an eye.
There will be a new normal, families will survive, life will go on, goodness will prevail--and hopefully, you and I will wake up each day and thank the Divine when it turns out to be just another ordinary day.