It didn’t seem like it would work out this time. I wanted to head back for a visit with my family, but things just kept popping up as a stumbling block – things to do, softball practice to attend, dog/mules to watch. At first, I was willing to let the “stuff” win and just stay on the farm. But, by Monday I was having second thoughts. By Tuesday, it was full on desire to head back to Western New York to visit my family. And by Wednesday, the decision was made for the girls and I to go back for a quick visit while the Country Boy would stay back in Ohio with the animals and work. The stuff would have to wait.
I imagine it is like this with families of any size, but I can assure you it is true for my big family – when a group of us gets together, especially when spouses/signficant others aren’t around, we tend to fall back into our childhood rolls and we also laugh. A lot.
I’m talking milk-coming-out-of-your-nose laughing.
The type of laughing that comes from those inside jokes born of memories from our childhood or years gone by.
Memories that take only one sentence, maybe even one word, to bring forth. For example, saying “pot-corn” had my sister Joyce laughing so hard she was crying.
We also spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Good Friday is our day to make the traditional Easter Pies, so it was especially true this trip. Driving into town, I could picture my sisters and maybe a niece or two cutting up the ham and provolone cheese or mixing up the eggs and pouring it into the homemade crust. Watching my Mom roll out the crusts in the same apron she’s had since like 1972 is comforting. I haven’t had the chance to be there many of the previous years for the making of the pies so I was happy to have my turn sealing the crusts and rolling the edges. There is a glimpse of a memory I have of watching my Grandmother making bread when I was a small child. So giving my girls the opportunity to have memories of my Mom baking the traditional foods of our family is important (even if they spent most of their time in the toy room or jumping over my parents couch).
While I was home, I went up into the attic. That place is a treasure trove of memories: Prom dresses from the ’70s and ’80s, posters of sports heroes from long ago, late ’70s Happy Meal boxes from those few times my parents let us eat at McDonald’s, paintings and drawings from high school art classes, notebooks from college courses that seemed so important that a sibling wanted to keep them for future reference. I grabbed a handful of my things, but left much more.
Plus, maybe it helps me keep up the self-delusion that I am still young. Really, if I still have my Adorable Dora and my poster of Wayne Gretzky, then I can’t be that old, right?
Trust me, you don’t need to answer that. Someone, er, someTHING already did when I was there.
The room that I stay in on most of my visits home has a mirror that hangs on the wall. I am convinced that this mirror has magical powers of some sort, although not the positive, affirming kind like the mirror in Snow White. It is in no way saying that I am the fairest of them all.
Nope. Not this mirror.
For some reason this mirror shows nothing but my flaws very clearly and with some sort of magnification. I don’t know if it is the lighting, the position on the wall, the angle it is hung – whatever – all I know is that, in that mirror I am very much as old as I am, my hair is getting gray, and my backside is much, much larger than I realized.
And this was AFTER I ran 10 miles (I shudder to think of how big it was before I started running again.) and BEFORE the Easter bunny came (maybe I need to give away the second Reece’s peanut butter egg I got…).
The Truth mirror made my head spin and had me getting dressed in the corner of the room during my visit. I wonder if my parents put it there to keep visits from their out-of-town children to minimal visits…
If they do, well, it works.
I hope you had a chance to laugh at some of the photos in this post. I laughed a lot while going through the old albums and could have scanned in dozens of shots.
While I was flipping through the pictures, I noticed something that clicked in relation to Madeline, myself and my Mom.
Here is a picture of the “mini-family”(that’s what they called Joyce, Jimbo, and I who are the three youngest) in Canada in 1978.
Here we are in Niagara Falls. (I love that we’re all hamming it up for the photo….and that my Dad didn’t get the background image of the falls into the shot. Classic.) Thinking it may be from the same trip in 1978 or from a trip in 1979. Jimbo’s shirt is different so I know that it is at least not the same day as the photo above.
Here I am at Christmas in 1980.
There were a few more photos I could have included, but these were enough to make my point. In each photo I am wearing the same shirt. It is especially telling that, in the Christmas photo (and remember, we lived in the WNY snow belt), everyone else has long sleeves on but me.
That tells me:
a) like my oldest daughter, I was very stubborn about my clothes.
b) like my oldest daughter, I had favorite clothes I liked to wear no matter how weather-inapporpriate they may have been.
c) like my oldest daughter, I probably threw a giant fit when it came to getting dressed.
d) my Mother was much better at realizing what battles are worth fighting than I am and let me wear that darn shirt as many times as I wanted to no matter how cold it was outside.
My Mom continues to be the smartest woman I know.
And I need to realize that the things that drive me the most crazy in Madeline are probably the things that I did to drive my Mom crazy. It really has come full circle.
Maybe I need to ask my parents if I can borrow the Truth Mirror for a while – apparently there are many things in my life I need to see more clearly…