Sarah Selecky’s Little Bird and My 1963 Corvair

white 63 Corvair

Sarah Selecky is an accomplished author who amongst other things writes prompts for aspiring writers.  She also hosts Little Bird Writing Contest that you will find here.  I am as usual a day late – well almost a week late in starting – and a dollar short, a saying I seem to be using a lot of this time of year.  So I decided to give it a try.

Now the idea is to read a prompt and then take 10 minutes to write it in a notebook.  By the end of the month you can submit a story from the lot, or several stories to Sarah who then has a judge (this year it is Alix Ohlin) choose a winner.

We may not want to post what we write, but my first story in ten minutes is something that I want to share.  I wrote it in ten minutes and have not done any editing yet, which of course is the idea of the whole thing.

1963 Corvair

Prompt:

Write a scene using the name of your first car you remember. In 10 minutes.

My mother was on the phone talking to her family in Scotland.  I was thirteen at the time and we were excitedly waiting for my father to return with our very first brand new car.

I looked anxiously out of the large picture window to the front driveway waiting for my father, and the car.  Brand new.  What would it look like?  What would it smell like?  My parents had only told us this morning and we were more excited that a three year old waiting for Santa.

Mum, he’s here, pulling in the driveway.  Oh it’s beautiful, I didn’t know it was white.  Mum hurry, get off the phone, you are going to miss all the excitement.”

I figured we would never get this exact moment again and I so wanted her, needed her to get off the damn phone.  She knew how important this was to my father.  Get off the phone, I silently screamed at her.

Mum turned her back to me and spoke hurriedly and all quiet like into the old black dial phone.  What could be so important, I thought, and quickly came to the conclusion that nothing, nothing on  earth was more important that this event.  Why was she taking so long?

Dad was now getting out of the car, its big wide door swung open.  The four other younger children were running around, squealing, jumping and touching everything inside and outside the car.

Mum finally, after what seemed an eternity hung up and stared quietly and unmoving at the floor.  She took a deep breath and finally looked at me, finally acknowledging my presence that she seemed to try to ignore only moments ago.  She did not speak for a bit, just looked at me as I kept looking past her to the wonderful scene in the front drive.

Raising a family of five on a working man’s wages meant we didn’t get a lot of new things including clothes that were often hand-me-downs. This was an occasion.

Mom walked over to the window then turned to me and said, “Chris, this is your father’s day.  Don’t tell him about the phone call.  Let him enjoy this day.”

Confused I asked exactly what the phone call had been.

“My twin sister, Ellen, just died in Scotland.  I will  tell your dad later.”

Putting her shoulders back, and lifting her head, she pasted on a smile and stepped out unto the front porch embracing the happiness of the celebration.

I don’t think I have seen such an unselfish act since.

My cousin in Scotland mentioned the other day of March 3rd that my Mom has been gone for 30 years and her Mom the identical twin has been gone for 50 years.

Letters from the War: Part 2 of A Personal Post

Canadian Army

Canadian Army (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I posted a letter written by my uncle, who was fourteen at the time, to his brother, my father who was in the army.

My uncle was a pack rat and when he passed away his basement was crammed with all kinds of treasures, that my cousins had to sort through.  Amongst his belongings were three letters.

The other two letters I have are from my father to his mother, my grandma.

I have no idea where overseas he was when these were written.  The letters are on official Canadian Army stationary and are fully intact with the original envelopes.  The first letter was written April 16, 1943 and the second May 2, 1943.  Reading the lingo of the day they make me think of a scene from a black and white movie.  They also give me a perspective I wouldn’t otherwise have of this boy who would become my father.  They touch my heart as a mother, as a grandmother and as a woman.  I don’t see this boy as my father.  He is a young man who enlisted too young and went to a war that left permanent marks.

He loyally signed up with my someday to be my Uncle Harry who when he returned from the war would marry my Aunt Elaine.  My aunt is the last aged member of that generation and she tells me to this day how awful the war was for these teenagers.  She says they were different people when they came back and I can see she mourns the loss of who they once were.  When I lived in the USA I dated a man who had been in the Vietnam war and while he was a wonderful accomplished man he still carried memories that invaded his dreams.

I have felt for a long time now that the only casualties were not those who died.  Living victims.  I think it is wonderful that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is recognized but I do not know if that recognition makes it any easier to deal on a day to day basis.

Whoa!  That was a surprise melancholy trip.  Now back to the letters that are not at all downers.  The second letter does show just how homesick this boy was.

Anyway:  April 16/43

Dear Mother

Hi Mom how are you doing?  Fine I hope.  Now here I am to make a request.  I need some more toilet soap and would be very greatful if you could get me some and send it to me.  The limey soap gives me a rash of something.

I found out where Bobby is so as soon as I can get a leave I am going to see him. O’ yes I haven’t had my leave as yet but am sure hoping.  I expect I will need it if I don’t go crazy waiting.  O’ yes haven’t received any cigs yet but am hoping for that too.  Well must go to bed now.

Tons of Love

Your son

Raymond

PS a X (hug) from me to you.

Love Raymond

********

May 2/43

Dear Mom

Hi Sweet Heart and how are you doing?  Fine I hope.  Say do you know something.  In 49 days Mrs. Gingerich’s dark haired warrior will be 19 and I have heard from some ot the fellows he is going to get drunk, really pie eyed for about 2 days.  Well mom I guess I didn’t need to remind you of that awful day.  But I guess you can remember it.

Well enough of that.  Well today is Sunday and like the good boy I am, I never wen t to church, and you know I was worried but I don’t know what happened I just didn’t get to church.  Well here I am beside a nice fire and having a swell time.  I was thinking what a swell time a fellow could have if he were home for awhile.  it would be swell.  I’d like to meet all the new friends we have now.  It would be swell.

Well Mom, I guess I will close for now.

Tons of Love Sweetheart

Love

Raymond

Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Meaningful Possessions

I am a little late to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge Being Saturday and all.  The subject matter is ‘ tell us about your most meaningful possession and since I have spent most of my life making sure that possessions were not meaningful, I honestly thought I had nothing to contribute.

Then last night outside under the stars I asked myself that same question and the answer came crystal clear.  I do have one possession that matters.  Would I fight to the death over it?  No, but while I have it with me I will savor the meaning and remember.

Dad's leather purse

Most Meaningful Possession

My Dad is not someone I write an awful lot about which always puzzles  me because he was the center of my existence.  While my mother tried to teach me how to darn socks (darned if I could understand why – being the diva I was I could not see myself ever darning anything), and knit and keep the house cool in  the summer by pulling down the blinds on the east side in the morning and on the west side in the afternoon, my Dad taught me other things.

Have you found it surprising, if you have ever had to clean out a home after someone dies, what seemed important to that person?  Have you ever held an object and wondered why it was stored in a tin box with other seemingly meaningless objects?

When it was time to do this for my father there were a number of treasure found.  His gold ring with his initials had been left to me but I decided it should go to the oldest son of the oldest son and gave it to my brother for his son.

There was one treasure I was not even aware of until about ten  years ago (and Dad died in 1981).  The gift came from my sister.  I wondered at it at first as it was a small suede leather bag measuring three and half inches at its base, two inches at its neck and five inches in length.  And leather tie to tighten it.  Engraved into the leather appears to be a Mayan calander or something zodiac like.  I truly do not know exactly what it is.  This bag and other ‘treasures’ were kept in an old tin box in his top drawer.  It was a pretty beat up tin box and I remember seeing it as a young child and wishing I could see inside.

Anyway I thought this was a strange gift but I was touched deeply and then my sister said, “open it”.

Inside were five pennies, each with the birth year of my brothers and sisters and me, and one nickle with my birth year.

Meaningful possessions

The feeling of holding something my dad felt was important enough to be a tin box treasure and understanding the depth and the heart of my sister was overwhelming.

There has never been another gift that has meant as much and each time I pull that leather string to close the bag I feel like I am ensuring my family is tucked in safely.

Die for it if I had to?  You know what?  Just maybe!

This Writer: The Unsuspected Truth

My mind sometimes rides on an endless roller coaster trying to sort out unsortable things.

Truth is one of those – the truth we think we see and the truth as perceived by another.

I had an old friend long ago.  She was old in tenure and age with friends of all ages.  As a matter of fact I and many others called her ‘Mum‘.  She was born sometime around 1916 and lived in a large stately home her father had built in the town of Preston.  She and her sister grew up learning good housekeeping from a very young age and when their school day ended they dusted both banisters of the front and back staircases.

She grew up well mannered, polite and demure as was expected of all ‘ladies’.  She was always a lady.

We became friends in 1967 when I was a nursing student and she a patient. A couple of years later I went to live with ‘Mum’ and ‘Pop’.

She died in 2002 after a few years as a widow.  She always kept her emotions in check as a lady should, through the death of her daughter and the difficulties with her son.  She never spoke out of line.  Never uttered a word of despaiir or anger.  Her daily life, for her whole life was centered in the kitchen, preparing food, planning, cleaning… After dinner ‘Pop’ retired to the living room  to watch TV as we cleaned up.

When her daily chores were done (about 8pm) she would go up the back stairs to the small room where she kept her craft supplies.  There she remained until time for bed.  She said it was truly the only time in a day that was hers.

Once Pop passed away she continued living there, taking care of the house and grounds.  One of the things I talked about at her funeral was that she appeared to have no problems.  She seemed to view them as challenges to be solved quietly.  When she could no longer kneel to garden she she would sit on a plastic garbage bag and slide along the ground.  When she could no longer carry things upstairs she filled a basket attached to a rope on the top railing and pull it up once she got to the top floor.

We spent many many evenings after a meal playing cards and talking.  The only time she ever used an unladylike word was during cards when just before she threw down a winning hand she would say, “I’ll show you where the bear sh*t in the buckwheat.” They were spirited games filled with moans groans and laughter.

As her time here on this earth became shorter she started to get her house in order. Literally. Wanted to make it easier for her son, her only living child.  She also started writing down the family history and told me tales of yore.

One Wednesday I suddenly felt an  urgent  need to see her so I stopped in on my way home from work.  She was pretty quiet during the meal and later during cards.  Quite suddenly, out of the blue, she said she was going to have a stroke and would be found on the kitchen floor.  She said it factual like not expressing emotion.  Just real quiet.  I opened my mouth to say I would stay the night in my old room but a message as clear as a bell came to me.  “You cannot stay.  Death is in this house. You cannot stay.”  I tried to get my mind around the thought and again the words were clear.

She held me for a long time that night as we hugged on the front porch and the next day I got a call from her Grandson who spontaneously decided to stop in to visit.  He looked through the kitchen window to find her lying on the floor.

But that’s not what I started to tell you –  as ‘truth’ and what we perceive are so often different things.  I asked ‘Mum’ after she had been widowed for awhile if she would ever marry again.  To me she had always seemed a woman happy in her role in life.  The crisp anger in her voice startled me,

“I would never marry again.  I spent my life looking after my family and my husband.  I was a good wife and mother and did a good job.  Now I get to look after me.”. And then we got up and went to the living room where she sat in ‘Pop’s’ easy chair and watched television.

She also told me that she followed the rules she was raised by.  “Never say anything in complaint and you can never get in trouble.  If I had it to do over I would talk up.”

So the truth I believed about an admirable always politically correct woman was not the truth of how she felt.  Marguerite was an amazing strong incredible woman and all who knew her were blessed.

The Night I Slept with Jack…or Jack Slept with Me..or Maybe not…

So as you know we have 3 whites.  Not great whites as in the sharks, but whites as in the cats.

I have spoken of these beasties before.  Jack is King with a capital K.  He can be a bit nasty taking a swipe at your ankles as you walk by him.  He likes to assert his power..his territory.  Then we have dear Jewels who is your typical subserviant please just stay out of my way kind of girl.  She lets Jack reign and I say ‘lets’ because I do believe if this dear lady ever decided to stake territory no one else would reign.

Jack needs to reign.  It is important to his ego.  He even bullies Bree who is away this week with the family at the cottage.  Now as you know we have Gus who is pretty new to it all.  So far Jack seems to be happy to just watch over the newcomer kitten although he is not above giving the kid a swat when needed.

Now Jack does not like me very much and for the life of me I don’t know why.  If I am in the kitchen he stretches out across the floor letting me know I am in his territory.  And he was forever taking swats at me; walking down the stairs, down the hall..well you get the idea.

Now this week, with his whole adoring family gone it is just me, Jewels, and the new kid Gus.  The family have been gone almost a week and tonight is the first time Jack decided to spend anytime major time with me.

Gus and Jack routinely wrestle around, most often in play but J always asserts his power when he becomes bored with the new kids antics and that pretty much ends the game of the moment.

Except tonight.  I am not sure if Jack sort of figures I am the new sheriff in town permanently but he decided to spread his territory.  Except Gus, the kid, has been used to sleeping on my bed at least for part of the night.

So first Gus makes himself at home beside me on the bed.  The evening is wearing on and before you know it, who makes an entrance but Jack.  He stands on the floor for a bit watching me and the kid, settling down for a bit of a read before slumbers.  Then he jumps up on the bed, my bed you understand, and sits at the foot watching us.

I’m figuring it could be very nice to tell the family, when they return that Jack and I are A1 buds.  That we slept together in perfect harmony.  Then all of a sudden there is one swift motion and a whole bunch of white fur and a bit of growling ensue.  Right beside me!

Believe it or not there really are two whites there.  Not sure what to do I remain very very very still.  Suddenly Jack jumps back and leaping from the bed leaves the room.  Gus, the new kitten in town settles and stretches out making it clear where his territory is. I tried taking photos at which point they both left my boudoir.

Guess I won’t be sleeping with Jack after all.  As for Jewels?  Well she could care less.  Her only staked out territory is my desk chair and neither of the other two seem interested.  So it all works out for her.

Men! Animal, Vegetable or Mineral.  So territorial.

Imperfect Memories

If you knew you only had a few days or a few months to live, what would you do with that time?  This thought has been on my mind lately and I can’t figure out if it is something to seriously consider or if it is an excuse to not do other things that wait for my attention.  But by devoting time for this one can only hope that one thing will lead to another and I do like to multitask so…

I am a few months short of my sixty-fifth birthday and realize that just having outlived my parents I am not sure of my own longevity.  It’s hard to beat your genes.  Who would I like to read this story?  Certainly my children and the rest of my family but there is a danger in sharing with my brothers and sisters as I have discovered each of us has a different memory of a past event which just goes to prove the old idea of the truth being completely subjective and perhaps nonexistent in its purest form.  I know I have posted on this blog memories of events and my brother and sister have pointed out a different or corrected version (very kindly of course).  This is probably a good thing as they are younger than I so perhaps their minds are a little fresher.

Distant memory in particular is colored by what we think happened and our ensuing experiences and emotions.  And of course we choose to believe or remember a specific thing or occurrence according to our own mind.  One of my brothers believes my grandparents did not own their home because he remembers seeing a box with rent receipts after they died.  He may have forgotten that at least one offspring and family lived in that house with them continually for many years and yes they all paid rent.  That included my parents, two aunts and several others for shorter periods of time.  So he, my brother, would swear on a stack of bibles that they never owned that house even though the family sold it after Grandpa’s death.  Fortunately my one living paternal aunt can verify this and explains that she was fourteen when she had to quit school to stay home and look after her younger brother and sister so my grandmother could get a job to make money to buy the house which they purchased when my dad was overseas.

This is one of the reasons I tend to avoid reading famous people’s autobiographies – just too subjective.  So if you are reading this little story and share memories of the past with me, please understand this is my recollection and while I will strive to be accurate it just can’t be more than my own mind and heart will let it be.

My dad joined the army when he was seventeen, and yes he was underage, but it was 1941 and the Second World War was raging so a lot of youngsters were allowed to enlist as age wasn’t questioned much.  We have a couple of letters  that he sent home when he was posted overseas and one letter from his younger brother who I think was only fourteen at the time.  I will dig them out and scan them for the record and will tell you more about that at a later time.

I think now and then about the sort of things I want my children to know about such as old wood stoves that baked pies and cakes and wonderful homemade stews and soups, old dial black telephones and numbers that began with words or initials.  Our phone number was Sherwood 2—2 and the Sherwood was dialed as SH so the number in fact was 742—-2.  (Naturally I have the exact number in the family version but it would not be a good idea to publish it in the event someone else now has that number).  Everyone in those days was on a party line, so if you wanted to make a call you first picked up the receiver to be sure the line was clear.  Mind you at any time a neighbor could pick up their phone and listen in and if they were skilled at making the click very quiet you would never know.  I suppose if you were of the paraniod persuasion clicks were heard when no one was there.  People did not use the phone unless it was necessary.  There was no idle chatter.  There was also no such thing as cordless, caller ID, or speaker.  Oh, and no such thing as colors.  It was black and very heavy as I remember.

The one below is exactly like ours and everyone else’s for that matter.

 

There were no phone jacks that lines plugged into so if the cord was snapped from the wall you had to call the phone company to come in and repair it.  Now I must qualify the not using the phone unless it was necessary part.  I do recall vaguely the odd Saturday when our parents were out making prank calls that generally went, “Hello, is your refrigerator running? Well you better run after it!”  We just dialed numbers randomly and have no idea who we contacted and they sure could not trace us.

It is my intention not to reveal any family skeletons as such; at least I think I will not, as many of those old bones are not mine to share.  Neither will I necessarily whitewash things but the memories are pretty happy nostalgic ones.  I guess we will just have to wait and see as layers of the dusty past are removed.  I have also decided that I will not try to stay on a chronological path as memories seem to pop up in a rather irregular fashion and that is how they will be recorded.  I’ve tried the chronological thing in the last couple of years and it drives me bonkers.

My folks were married in Scotland and she being a war bride followed him here to Kitchener Ontario a few months after his return.  I have spoken with my aunt who is my mom’s younger sister and the last of that family of siblings and my aunt who is the last remaining member of my dad’s siblings and have asked as many questions as I could about their youth and what they remember.  As both are well into their eighties the memories are very subjective but amazingly detailed.  Besides what are memories if they have to be objective?  The full flavor of life is in the personal bias of it all.  That’s where the fun comes in!

Well now that I have that all straightened out I shall ponder a little more and then get down to some real work.  I won’t share every record of history with you but when the little oddities such as telephones pop up I will keep you in mind.

 

A Proclamation of Love, A Declaration of Intent

My ever entertaining 3 year old G2 is telling all who will listen he is going to marry Mommy.  To prepare for said nuptuals he is brushing his teeth at least three times a day, more if he could get away with it.  Today he asked for his shaving kit, a child’s Christmas toy he received complete with cream, razor, mirror and brush and proceeded to spruce himself up.  The same goes for hair combing.

He adores his Mom, her blue eyes, long blonde hair..she is perfect.  Previous to this his affections were reserved for Ariel the Mermaid and then Rapunsel all of whom have long hair.

He first mentioned his intent yesterday and I replied that it was a wonderful idea.  This morning he mentioned it again, watching me closely for my reaction.  Again I told him that was wonderful.  Then he said, “I told my Daddy and Daddy said ‘no’ that Mommy is his.  But I am going to marry her.”  He is pleased that Daddy seems on board with the idea now.

In addition it has become a training tool in matters so far unsuccessful.  He has developed an attachment to his soother lately.  Today Daddy told him to put it away and when he firmly replied, “No”, Daddy said he didn’t think Mommy would want to marry anyone with a soother.

“Fine,” he said and promptly deposited it in the kitchen.  Now if we can just use this to ensure number 2 is properly looked after.

I remember both my sons at the same age deciding they were going to marry Mommy.  Then at about 8 they felt it necessary to assure me that,”Mommy, I will live with you forever.”  And that is exactly where G1 is at that exact age.

Ah the purity and sincerity of youth.  I love it!

Cabin Fever

So the whole week has been a snuggy one staying inside and being warm in the face of winter and by this morning I awoke and thought, Oh no, its Cabin Fever~

Time to get out..head out on the highway…looking for adventure…OK back to the reality of it all…it meant a trip to Kitchener.  My SIL who is one of my besties has spent the last three weeks in Rome, Nairobi and Amsterdam and finally, finally after 3 weeks came home.  I like travel, but I have to say three weeks is way toooo long.

Anyway she got home yesterday so off I go this morning.  Cold..minus something..but the roads were clear..which is a biggie…had lunch and met her this afternoon.  Quite disgusting really as she looked younger and more vital than pretrip although she insisted being on the verge of exhaustion.  I should look so good when exhausted!

It dawned on me while driving home later in the day how wonderful my  life is.  I have the extreme pleasure of loving and being loved by wonderful people mostly because if love had to do with deserving it I would have none.  There is so much I would change if I had it to do over again..but since it seems there are no do overs…then I am doubly blessed.

Somehow there is a worth that we may believe is not deserved but somehow it is deserved.  And that my friends who doubt miracles, is the miracle.

Beyonce JZ New Baby..YuuuCh

I am so sick of overly rich people adoring their new borns.  Even Jennifer Garner who I have admired says she will do anything for the happiness of her children.  Excuse me but that turns my old age stomach.  Life, and I don’t care how rich you are, is not easy and children should,in my opinion, be taught that it is hard, something to be conquered.  Instead the new young are being taught they are adored, and will grow to believe the world owes them something, and by God they will throw a tantrum until they get it.

For some reason, far beyond my ken, life is meant to be hard, I don’t know why but it is.  I don’t care if you believe in fate, the now of it all, or nothing at all.  Life is hard.  And if you think that parents who give all to their young on a silver platter, and constantly tell them…you are wonderful, you are magic, you are the be all and end all…well all I can say there is much disappointment waiting beyond tomorrow.

There are lessons to be learned.  Forget the silver platters because when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of it all..well there are just nuts and bolts.

What have you taught your children today?   What will they remember?

I sit here looking at my warming soothing ….

I sit here looking at my warming soothing fireplace, somewhat disconcerted because this was to be a go getum kind of day. Instead it is a day of naps, reading blogs and watching fav movies, which so far have included Ghost and The Blind Side.

It occurred to me that it is okay to succumb to lethargy and snuggling today. Physically, emotionally and spiritually I am drained and now I see today as a day to recharge. Batteries only recharge when plugged in and at rest.
I wasn’t sure I was even capable of a post.

But then my friend Katherine Gordy Levine at emotfit.wordpress.com responded to my ‘I asked for wisdom’ post with this:

“Reminds me of my favorite line from the movie The Field of Dreams.

Some days you win.
Some days you lose.
Some days it rains.

My mother raised me on a number of sayings. Two were: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” and “Nothing ventured, nothing gained. ”

As she often does Katherine got me thinking about sayings we we raised on way back when in the middle of the last century, and that took me to thoughts of my Dad. I have written about my Mom and others, and although I was always closer to my Dad I have not yet felt ready to share him with y’all quite yet. But sayings we had a’plenty.

A WORD FITLY SPOKEN is like pitchers of silver and apples and gold, the source of course being the bible. Dad had us repeat those words whenever we argued with each other, and chose to ignore the fact it was recited in a pouty grump of a voice. It must have worked as we all speak pretty decently to folk and adulthood seems to have taken care of our need to argue. We all genuinely like each other in addition to the required sibling love and socialize often.

Every ‘goodnight daddy see you tomorrow was met with, “if the good Lord is willin’

Mom’s frequent saying was, ‘You made your bed, now you have to lie in it.’. I had to give this one lots of thought because it seemed to me that I lie in my bed whether I made it or not. Some things I spent a lot of time figuring out I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

In the winter with five kids in and out a lot it was: ‘Close the door we’re not heating up the outside.’

Well now I could stretch my mind for more nuggets of the past but will settle for the night and get this posted before my midnight. I’m still kicking around the 365challenge but not sure what one field or area I could blog on 365 of anything…I mean 366challenge.

Previous Older Entries

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 312 other followers

Archives

blogsurfer.us

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 312 other followers

%d bloggers like this: