Follow @EllenGrabe Grabe's Gatherings: 27 Year Jog

Monday, November 30, 2009

27 Year Jog

Last night as I tossed and turned, I reflected on the past five days I spent with my husband and children and my mind took a jog to the past. I began thinking about growing up with my family. As an adult, I have had a hard time remembering things from my childhood. Usually a memory will pop in my mind from a certain smell, song, or place that I go. Last night, something was different. I had so many memories flooding back in my mind and for the sake of myself, my parents, and my siblings I decided to write them down.

I remember... picnics out at Spring Park on Sundays. We would eat, play football and frisbee, and play on the playground equipment. Walking on the trails and finding the largest, prettiest leaves, is a fond memory. We would also hop from rock to rock out on the rapids to see how far we could go on the river without missing a step and falling in. These afternoons are a warm memory of mine and remind me of how fortunate I am to have grown up with such a close family.

...rainy mornings at school when the whole student body would crowd into the breeze way and wait until the bell rang. I remember the squeak of our shoes as we climbed the stairs to our classrooms and the excitement of having recess in the gym.

...sitting on the patio while my dad would grill our dinner. The smells of steak, pork chops, and potatoes consumed the neighborhood. Mom would run in and put a vegetable on the stove and when all was cooked, we would sit down as a family and eat. I realize now how thankful I am for always having a good meal to eat around a family dinner table.

...our playroom in our basement. It was lively, with cartoon characters painted by my mom on the wall. Bugs Bunny was life size, along with Mickey Mouse and others. I can't remember them all, but would love to see that room again because I know it would bring back so many memories. My sister and I would drag out all of our barbies and dolls and play for hours. I was fortunate enough to have room to play in my house, a sister to play with, and parents who worked hard to provide for their children.

...listening to my dad's old records. We had an old record player in our basement playroom and we would listen to those oldies over and over again. I recall the song "Leader of the Pack" the most. I will also never forget the Chipmunk Christmas record. "Alvin!! ALVIN!!! ALVIN!!!!"

...Sunday nights watching T.V. and eating popcorn and drinking pop. We were only allowed pop on Sunday's which made Sunday's an extra special day. What a fun memory-watching America's Funniest Home Videos, laughing between popcorn chomps and washing down the giggles and kernels with a glass of soda.

...building bustling towns with all of the blocks and little people accessories we owned on our kitchen floor. Our towns were thorough and the best part of this memory is simply that my brother, sister and I spend hours together doing this.

...dishes duty after family suppers. We would pretend we were on a game show and race against another team. In order to win we would have to be the first to hang our drying towels on the refrigerator door. One of us would wash (Eric), one of us would dry (either me or Emily) and one would put away. Although at the time I didn't appreciate chores, the responsibilities I was given as a child taught me how to keep up my own home.

...playing basketball behind the garage. Sometimes I would play alone. Other times with my dad or my brother. I have memories of being back there at night with my dad, the light on as it grew dark, playing Around the World. I had a good shot and would win often. Maybe he let me, maybe he didn't. It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was spending time together doing something we both enjoyed. Behind the garage playing basketball is where my dad agreed to raise my curfew to 12:00 for my senor year of high school. :)

...sleeping on my parents floor on the hot summer nights because their room was the only one with an air conditioner.

...Wednesday church services with my schoolmates. Seeing my peers and friends singing up front, doing the readings, and participating throughout the service is a memory I will always have. Looking back, I know that at the time, church seemed boring. However, now I realize that growing up in a Catholic school and participating in church services and religion classes daily has brought me closer to God. One of my former teachers would always stop class every time we heard sirens and we would all say a prayer for whoever the sirens were for. To this day, I still find myself doing that.

...summer nights staying out after dark playing what we called Bloody Murder with the neighborhood kids. I don't remember the rules of the game, I just remember the name and that it involved hiding. Memories of this game include the time my brother kneeled on a nail, the big bus that was always parked across from the Coopers' house, and being called in for the 10:00 news because the story of my Great Grandma was going to be on. I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood--very safe. If only every child had a neighborhood they could safely run around in after dark each night.

...breakfast with my brother and sister each morning. Mom would have toast made and on a plate in the middle of the table. Cereal boxes would be out along with milk and juice. On cold mornings mom would make hot cereal (malt-o-meal) or oatmeal. We would stir in our own milk and sugar. I liked a lot of sugar. With full bellies, our mom would send us on our way in the carpool or load us up ourselves to go pick up the other carpool families.

...Christmas Eve. We would go to church and while at church, Santa would come. We would come home to eat dinner as a family and then would relax around the Christmas tree and take turns opening our gifts. What a great time of giving and receiving and seeing our faces light up at the surprises hidden inside those boxes.

...St Nick coming! I don't even remember when the exact date of St. Nick is, but the night before we would put our shoes at the front door in anticipation of finding candy and goodies overflowing the insides of our shoes. I don't know how this tradition started, but we did this every year. I remember my freshman year of college I was sharing this memory with my roommate. One morning I woke up to find my shoe filled with candy. She looked up with St. Nick came and made sure to have supplies on hand. I thank her to this day for bringing a little bit of home to college for me.

There are so many memories I have and once I get the thoughts flowing, it's hard to stop thinking about them. As I read back through these memories, I realize how hard my parents worked for their family. I realize how family time was important to them, and I see how that has molded me in how I want to raise my own family. My parents accomplished raising three successful children who now will take those traditions, memories, and lessons with us as we raise our own families. As I jogged back through my 27 years of life, I smile with satisfaction at the fullness of the life I have lived.

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