Sunday, June 12, 2016

Childhood memories, Pt. 1

This morning I'm reflecting on the length of a lifetime, and the brevity of a lifetime.

King David's lifetime is recounted in some detail in several chapters of scripture.

And, too, his life is summarized in one verse. Okay, three: "Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. And the period that he reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron, and thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem. So he died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor; and Solomon his son reigned in his place."

I'm wondering how mine will be summarized.

In the meantime, I'm recollecting bits of my childhood. Today I am particularly aware of my mom's pattern of interest and investment in her parents. Consequently I have fond memories of their home because, it seems to me, that every Saturday we made the trek to the farm to visit them. I'm sure it wasn't every Saturday because I also clearly recall Mom saying, "Better head to Mom and Dad's today since I didn't get there yesterday." (Sunday afternoon, I suspect.)

My mom worked outside of the home from Mon.-Fri. so weekends were usually the best option (though perhaps she would slip down on a rare weeknight if she knew the weekend promised to be busy.) She didn't always insist on our accompanying her, but we usually did.

Grandma died when I was in 6th grade, at Christmas time. She was 62. Until then, visits to her cozy yellow house made for so many happy memories.

If it was summer there was gardening in her flower beds, sitting in yard chairs in the shade on the front lawn, slipping away unnoticed to her always cool living room to find Bach minuets on the piano open and ready for a read-through, exploring the back woods with the meandering creek with my brothers. Or riding on Grandpa's big red International tractor through his beloved orchards.

Winter-time visits meant attic expeditions where I found miniature Beatrix Potter books that I adored, eating warm-from-the-oven powdery molasses cookies shared with my twin brother (I always put two hands out, "One for Darryl, too, Grandma!"), and sitting on Grandpa's lap while he played "slap your hand if you don't move quickly enough" games. And the cellar. We loved the cellar furnace with the window in it. We would watch the flame dart and change forever, or so it seemed.

The farm also boasted a big ol' barn with an attached chicken coop. Haylofts, corn-husking machines that my ever-curious older brother discovered still worked by inserting his thumb resulting in a quick trip to the ER, old cow stalls, and dusty long low-slung rooms in the coop, perfect for hide-and-seek. There was never an end to fun when discovering new corners with ladders to climb up to "who knows where" and echoes to make by shouting and singing at the top of our lungs. And it was always better when cousins happened by at the same time!

Out in Grandpa's woods was an old lean-to for escaping a sudden downpour. Next to it was a freshwater spring with a tin cup tied to the neighboring tree, insuring a fresh drink was always on hand (more than welcome when working in the orchard on a hot summer day.) And, of course, a taller-than-I-can-imagine rope swing attached "somewhere in the top of that tree" provided more fun than the most expensive roller coaster could dare boast.

The cool air of their home in the summer, the spicy fragrance in the winter; Grandma and Grandpa's weathered, worn hands that often held ours and would reach out to catch me in a hug that held me to her floured apron or his fresh-air overalls; the warm smile she gave and the ready glance from his bluer than blue eyes; Grandpa's ruddy complexion from long outdoor days and Grandma's strong sinewy arms that churned butter and rolled cookies. These are things I remember like it was yesterday. And yet it was another lifetime it seems.

This was my heritage from my mom. Farm folks, hard working, simple and upright. Grandma was educated to be a teacher. In fact, that's what brought her to my hometown of Williamson, NY from her hometown of Potsdam, NY. There she met Grandpa, son of a merchant (I believe it was a hardware store), who bought land and became a fruit farmer. They had 6 children, all raised on the farm, my mom being the only girl.

It was Grandma that taught me by example to pray. I would often sit by her side on the wooden pew in our Presbyterian Church. And always, as we slid along the bench upon arrival, she would fold her hands and close her eyes. As she bowed her head, I knew she was talking to God. And I prayed, too. I saw her draw near to God and this has become a lifelong endeavor of mine. I draw near to God and pray to Him. Always.

Before I went to school my grandmother babysat my twin brother, Darryl, and me. But one warm afternoon she was out working on her hands and knees in her flower garden when she suddenly clutched her chest and huskily told us to "get Uncle Ed." Somehow, we managed to do so. It was a heart attack. The first. And it was the end of her babysitting us. She went on to live, as I mentioned, until I was in 6th grade. My Grandpa, I recall, was deeply sorrowful at the loss. I spent a night at their home shortly after Grandma died. I remember star gazing out of my upstairs window that night when I noticed him. He was standing in the cold dark night on the backdoor step, looking up at the same stars I was looking at. I could see that his bluer than blue eyes were heavy and misty, and his strong shoulders hung a bit. My heart ached and cried for him. And I missed her, too.

Grandpa Lockley passed away shortly after I became engaged. Rick was never able to meet him, something I have always been sorry about. He was so precious to all of his grandchildren. A wonderful loving man.

I was a truly blessed girl. Another day I will write my memories of my dad's mom and dad.