Especially when times are a bit anxious it is such a relief for me to go back a bit and recall some of the times that brought joy into my life. Everyone now is concerned with the Market situation and the on again/off again bailout, but we all have had those times and moments we shared with those we love; those memories are truly what makes life have its meaning, purpose and happiness. The struggles with job and finances will always have its cycles and you better not count on that for your happiness and fulfillment in life or you are destined for lots of worries and heartache along your journey. Family is not only a refuge it is horn of plenty when it comes to happiness.
Daughter number three came along when I was still quite young and working hard to make my way in the world as an associate with a small but very good firm. At that time we only had one car. Hard to imagine that today isn’t it. When number three arrived my wife was using a wagon for running errands around the neighborhood and for her shopping for small items during the day. Fortunately the grocery store was only a few blocks away. We had a small but decent home in a decent neighborhood when she came and she slept with us for the first year like they all did. She got to ride in the wagon everytime of course. Her older sisters had to trudge sometimes if the room was tight or they were fighting too much over the space. I would do the big shopping run on the weekends to help out. The one car we had was a Volkswagen bug, blue and white. We managed to move to another house that my dad built for us on the other side of town. It had some steep stairs to the study below. It was a split level house. She was only at 2 when we moved there. My wife insisted I install one of those gates on the doorway to downstairs to prevent her from taking a dive down the stairs. I knew we would always have our hands full when it wasn’t long at all before she was trying to climb over it or figure out how to unlock it. With help from her older sisters of course.
She had a knack for picking the clothes or toys that would become her talismans or favorites. I remember her devotion to Stretch Henderson a little doll-like figure that you could stretch this way and that. She carried that sucker everywhere for at least a couple of years. She was a pretty good baby though and not colicky like her oldest sister. She had a beaming smile that always made it hard to tell her no even when that was best and as an ankle-biter she developed the art of bargaining and negotiating to get her way on matters. That should have been a real clue she would have a strong and independent personality. Her other favorite was her red cowboy boots. I mean she wore them all the time,even to bed sometimes, and literally wore them out. No matter how she was dressed she wanted to have the boots whether we were going to Church or Sunday dinner out. They were definitely her trademark. When she was a bit older she was the first one to have a “boyfriend” when she was about 13 and we didn’t know how to deal with that. It was harmless of course but as a dad I wasn’t ready for that. She was a heck of a soccer player. They all were pretty good. She had that intimidation factor though. She could be relentless and fearless and often the other team’s players would back off of her. One way or another when the time came I managed to get a car for all of them at 16. She wanted a jeep! Now I ask you how many teenagers want a jeep but that was her request so like an idiot I got one. It was a hard top. The kind where you can put the top on or remove it and go topless (the jeep dodo, not the girl). I was assured it was easy to remove and replace. Yeah, right. You had to undo several bolts and and then lift it off. It was heavy and awkard to move. It really needed two people to do it. But you can imagine how much help I got. Inevitably she was busy or whatever and I did it by myself. I would have to bend down very low and lift the thing on my back the walk and climb up over the end of the jeep and place it and then attach all the bolts. Naturally, it seemed every time we took it off then rain would come and it had to be replaced within a day or so. I about wore myself out doing that. But it was a good vehicle and served her well for several years. She did make quite the statement I will admit pulling up in her jeep with friends in tow and her hair flowing. She was tough on the outside but to this day has one of the most tender and caring hearts.
I only wish you can have such memories if you are still raising your family or if they are gone then that you have your own recollections of children that assuage the sometimes frightening footsteps of passing time. Believe it or not there are still three more to cover and that will happen.
God Bless and vaya con dios.
I remember the bicentennial celebration in 1976 with all the kids. It was a wonderful holiday and of course many special events occured to mark the occasion. They were all still young but even they realized that it was different. It was my most fun 4th ever. I still remember watching all those tall ships and other sailing craft moving about New York harbor on TV and the fireworks were the best ever.