Tonight I am thinking about other things. Closer things.
Like – a box of Cheerios. Some Cream of Wheat. And a four-leaf clover.
A few nights ago I was able to spend some time with a couple of dear friends, and we somehow fell into a discussion of the different perspectives children and their parents have of people, places, circumstances.
As is common with any group of women, we started with one topic and somehow got onto another one. Cheerios came up… Yes, I remember. My brunette friend said, “What would you think if you went into your mother’s home and all she had was a box of Cheerios in the cupboard and some milk in the refrigerator?” I said I’d think she cooks about as much as I do – seriously, I really never do cook. But that awakened for us the idea of perspectives.
My red-headed friend told us a story. She had a military dad and her mother, brother and she all lived in “projects” most of the time. One year they had some type of celebration, and all they had was a box of Cheerios. She and her brother had a fantastic party, chowing down on Cheerios… while their mother stayed in the bedroom and cried, because all they had for their “party” was a box of Cheerios.
Earlier today my own mother asked me if I remembered my Aunt Rita, my Uncle Jerry’s first wife. I said I have one memory of Aunt Rita… and I can see her clear as day against the green, green grass of our Kentucky hillside. She spent hours with me one day, combing through a patch of clover looking for – you got it – a four-leaf clover. We found one! I think I pressed it. And that’s how I remember Rita. My mother was dumbfounded: her memories are of drama, high drama, and more drama with Aunt Rita. To me, Rita is still a good memory, represented by a silly but rare four-leaf clover.
Memories we have in our childhood are powerful. For some reason, perhaps because of the Cheerio party, my red-headed friend loves Cheerios. I bet her mom doesn’t like them so much. I myself love cream-of-wheat because my dad used to cook it for us every Sunday morning, while wandering around the house singing the theme song from Paint Your Wagon. And yes, I love Paint Your Wagon. I’ve had the soundtrack in every medium since I came of age, from cassette tapes to C.D.’s to, now, mp3. “Got a dream? Got a song? Paint your wagon, and come along…”
The day we had the discussion, my red-headed friend’s mom was doing fine. She lives a few hours away, and she and my friend talked about once a week. Yesterday she got a call that her mom was doing poorly, and asked for prayer. I hope all is well with them; moms are precious things. I expect I will hear news of her tomorrow.
My dad is doing fine; he lives far away, but he doesn’t talk on the phone for very long, at all, and won’t email, so we correspond with cards and letters – “snail mail” to the young whippersnappers of today. He just had a birthday. Yes, I sent him a card, and called to say “Happy Birthday.”
I don’t know how Aunt Rita ended up. But I pray, for the kindness she bore for a young girl, that somehow she did well. I hope she found, and kept, a four-leaf clover of her own.