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by Rebecca O'Connor
9/05/2007 / Family
Reflections are made from experiences in the past brought to remembrance to experience again and again. Reflecting on something good is like having a second helping of your favorite dish and if the dish is pleasing, you enjoy it often. The opposite of reflecting must be dwelling. I don't like dwelling. It is full of regrets you have no control to change. I choose reflecting.
Reflecting on my childhood and my parents is worth more than a second helping. It's my favorite meal! That meal has been a great foundation from which I have been building and raising my own children, passing on those life lessons. My parents are alive and well and still the very best part of me. I hope one day I can be the best of them, when they can no longer be. Here is a tiny sample of those reflections.
My parents were hard working people, who did the best they could with what they had. My mother's reflections are very different from mine. For example, she once told me that she would go to bed at night feeling so guilty for yelling the day away. Huh? Yelling? Funny, I thought she was enthusiastic. You know, talking in sentences full of feeling and living instead of the humdrumness of nothingness. We lived in our house. My mother was busy living with us, not trying to escape from us like a prisoner desperate for freedom. My mom lived every moment right alongside us. We were part of her and she was part of us. I believed she knew just about everything and her love could heal anything that came alongwell, that and Listerine. What my mom couldn't handle, gargling surely could. I am the first born, so I probably had the most experience with gargling. I need to ask the youngest sibling if she even knows what Listerine is. We may not have toilet paper, but we always had Listerine, which brings me to the next thought.
My mom and dad lived from payday to payday and did a juggling act with finances. How then was I so wealthy? I had everything important including the appreciation when I did acquire something new, which was mostly birthdays and Christmas or Grandparents returning from Mexico with souvenirs. We always had a warm meal and sometimes enough for a second helping. That was because my mom seldom ate what we ate. She loved mayonnaise on bread or an onion sandwich. But then, that was my reflection. I now know all the sacrifices made for the love of her children.
I never worried about my next meal or even the "Boogieman". My dad would take care of us. He was a big strong man in my eyes and nothing would pass by him to hurt us. While Mom lived every moment with us, Dad was out taking care of all the other things so Mom could be with us, all in all a good arrangement.
I liked my mom. She loved to laugh and got over being mad rapidly, no matter what we did. Usually picking a handful of clover or dandelions would put the smile back on her face. My Dad was scary. Don't get me wrong we all loved Dad, but he had a dark side. I avoided that side as best I could. While Mom tried her most threatening manner on us, Dad succeeded. Mom's spankings, such as they were, hurt more than Dad's though. (Spankings were legal when I was growing up.) When Dad spanked us he had good reason and we knew it and expected no less from him. But Mom on the other hand, when she spanked us or sent us to our rooms, we felt as though we pushed her off the edge and made her do something she detested more than anything. We'd feel heart sick about it. Not once do I remember feeling any of her spankings except in my heart. My sister, next to me in age, and I would wail, in duet form, about how horrible we had been to Mom and began devising a way to make her laugh again. When Dad spanked, it stung for a bit and then it was overfinishedjustice had prevailed and we were still breathing.
So to me, I thought everyone had just the right job. Mom was better at the "mom stuff" and Dad at the "dad stuff". We had a well-balanced life and home was my safe place. No matter what happened at school or in the neighborhood, home was base.
There was something magical about Mom's arms. Wonder Woman had a golden lasso, Superman had a cape and flew, but Mom's arms were no ordinary limbs. Sure, her arms did all the regular things like cooking and cleaning, but once they wrapped around you they were magical. They were better than a heating pad and liniment to a tired sore muscle.
Not to short change Dad any. He provided, whether he liked the job or not. Like the Ever-Ready battery, he took a lickin' and kept on tickin'. Mostly he did the ordinary dad stuff, but every once in a while he'd throw caution to the wind and we would all go somewhere only royals tread, like the drive-in theatre. Oh, I lived for those royal occasions.
The wealth of my childhood is indescribable. We expected Christmas. It came the same time every year, but when Dad did those unexpected extravagances, well, it was just the best. It didn't take much in monitory form to entertain us. Watching my mom and dad dance was a treat. Dad was a dancer on the Arthur Murray television show. He and Mom would practice some of the dances he would be doing on the show. The lampshades came off and the light bulbs would glow, casting shadows on the walls. We would jump on the couch as if we were dancing the same steps. I still remember the laughter and smiles. I can see my mom's face in the bright light of that room. That was the night I realized that she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen and my dad the most handsome. I saw them as a couple radiant with respect and love for one another. They weren't just relatives, the way kids see it. They were something besides Mom and Dad. They were still a young couple in love. She will always be the most beautiful woman in the world and my dad the most handsome.
My childhood is in a treasure box I keep with me always and though I don't often reflect upon it, it is a part of everything I am and all that I do. It isn't anything you could buy or sell. It is something you give back to your children. It gets revised somehow as it did with my parents, but the values, the main core, are there none-the-less. My girls, who bring their giftings into the traditions, are revising it. I saw my mom again, young and beautiful in my younger daughter as her magical arms embraced my granddaughter. In that embrace is a power no mighty dictator, however grand, could overwhelm or destroy.
What a nice visit I've had. I'll visit here again and reflect of many other wonderful times. I'll remember how very blessed I have been and am today, and of all the people who paved the road on which I travel still.
My name is Rebecca O'Connor. I have been a teacher in elementary education for years, written a few books, and hug my grandkids every chance I get! God has blessed me so much that I love sharing pieces from those blessings in my writing.
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