Lilacs Save My Childhood, Finally.

My sassy Virgo sister and I like to joke around about how we have no memories of our childhood.

It’s kind of a dark joke.

I have a few flashes of things, but no real coherent memories of life before, hmmm, approximately Junior High.  Just some vague sense that it was chaotic (it was) and that I spent most of the time wondering why everyone else seemed to know what was going on while I was clueless (they did).  It’s uncomfortable to think about.  It mostly feels like a big fuzzy grey fog of awkwardness, loneliness, outsider-ness, and heavy responsibility-ness.

Then, yesterday, after spending for-fucking-ever waiting in line to pick up a prescription for my Mom at Walgreen’s, I drove past a lilac bush that was just beginning to bloom.  It is hard to stay pissy when lilacs are blooming, it turns out.  Anyway, I almost peed my pants. “Lilacs!  Mom loves lilacs!  I love lilacs!  I have to have them right now!”

So, after flipping an illegal u-turn, driving up on a sidewalk (just a little bit) and turning on my emergency flashers when there was no real emergency, I stold procured some.  No big deal.  I only took two little bunches because the lilac-blooming was just starting, and people were watching.

I was so excited to bring them to my Mom.  Over-excited, really.

 It was more than just your run of the mill “Oh, these will cheer Mom up” anticipation.  It was more of a “I can’t wait to give these to Mom so she can see how considerate I am and how much I love her and she will think I am the best daughter ever and she will smile” type of feeling.  And yes, I’m (barely) 46.

Which made me remember how I used to scout around for lilacs on Mother’s Day so I could bring bunches of them to her on a breakfast-in-bed tray loaded down with cinnamon toast, Tang tea and homemade cards.  She always acted surprised and she always got tears in her eyes and acted like it was the best present ever and I always felt really proud of myself.

 And, wouldn’t you know, that memory led to other memories and then it was like an avalanche of childhood memories in my head.  No drugs were involved, at all.  I remembered all sorts of non-grey-fog-like things.

Things I loved.  Things that made me happy.  Things that don’t exist any longer.

A metal slinky.

Drinking ice cold water out of brightly colored aluminum cups at my Great Grandmother Nellie’s house.

The lavender bedroom I had in our house on Olive St.

A watermelon fight on a hot summer day in Oklahoma.

My first record player (in a suitcase).

The baby bunny I had in Oklahoma.

Playing upstairs in the farm house.  Grandma helping us play dress-up and telling me stories about my Mom.

Spring-a-Ling! (the original “red-neck trampoline” and probably the most dangerous toy ever made — two flimsy boards separated by four big coil springs — lots of ways to injure, maim or kill children.)

Watching Hee-Haw on our little black and white TV.

Spending Christmas Eve in my grandparents’ RV “tracking Santa’s sleigh”…

Listening to my Dad play guitar and sing.  Usually “Folsom Prison Blues”…

Picking peas from the garden.

Spending time with my Grandma Dorothy + “Blue Boy” (bird) and Missy (dog) and The National Enquirer.

Water-skiing on those homemade wooden skis that stuck together.

Spending the night with my friend Tammy, who lived at the Cow Palace Hotel.  (which would later become ground zero for Legionnaire’s Disease, fyi.) Which I thought was totally cool.

My brother in his little Broncos pajamas (with feet) out of his mind with excitement on Christmas.

Learning how to twirl the baton.

Putting the Olivia Newton John (pre-“Let’s Get Physical”) 8 track tape in the stereo and singing along with Mom.  We loved that shit.

When my Dad told me a “pedestrian” was a small, armadillo like animal and I believed him.

Our sheepdog, Eloise.  She always pretended that she didn’t see us drive up and then would act all surprised when we got within a few feet of her. “Oh…When did you get here?”  She would comfort me when I was sad.  When it stormed she would break into my bedroom (not kidding) get up on the bed and fart uncontrollably.  I loved that dog.

Fishing with my Dad.  Especially fly fishing.

Bringing my baby sister home from the hospital.  I was eight.  She smiled at me when no one else was looking.

Getting my ears pierced and showing them off on Show and Tell day.

My first crush in 4th/5th grade, Alex May.  (He dumped me for Linda Meerdink while I was out with chicken pox.) (HELLO issues around men!)

Winning the school spelling bee in 5th grade (I threw it in 6th grade so Alex May could win….) (That guy should totally be billed for  my therapy….)

Going to the Corner Pharmacy soda fountain – I loved this drink that was fresh lemon juice over crushed ice with salt, can’t remember the name…

Tire Swings and my famous Tire Swing Dance Routines (I said I was awkward….)

Reading the Chronicles of Narnia over and over.

Hurrying home after school every day so I wouldn’t miss Star Trek for God’s sake!

H.R. Puffnstuff

Wild, Wild West (I don’t think my parents knew I was watching this)

My three story pink Barbie mansion and Barbie camper van.

My Grandpa Ernie’s house — huge sunken tub + a real slot machine = awesome!

My “I Dream of Jeanie” pajamas.  For real.

Clip-on roller skates.

My dolls.  Sasha, my little African American baby.  Rebecca, who was tall and had red hair in a ponytail that you could pull to make longer.  Oh, and Ricky Jr. – who was possessed by demons.

The Lamar Public Pool – working up the nerve to go off the high dive, laying on the hot concrete, getting those really big plastic pixie stix from the concession stand.

The Bookmobile!

Playing spoons with my family.

When my Grandma Dorothy came to Oklahoma to pick us up and we flew in a plane back to Colorado.  Very.  Big.  Deal.

So.  Yay!  Lilacs ! And fond memories!

What a relief!  I do have some memories of my childhood.  And they don’t totally suck! 

Why is it so much easier to focus on the less than good, arguably “bad” things in life?  Maybe it is just habit?  (But why!  Why!)

I’m getting pretty tired of being such a good pessimist.  Turns out finding the good stuff and  focusing on it is pretty refreshing.  Who knew?

Besides everybody else.

Just kidding.   🙂



p.s.  i’m having a major block around writing about my retreat last weekend.  hopefully it will move soon. 

p.s.s. mom is making tons of progress in OT/PT/speech therapy.  gamma knife procedure on the other two tumors is next monday.  also, the oncologist finally referred her to the clinical trial people so that could bring some good news!

p.s.s.s.  i hate the Moratorium.  especially now, i.e., springtime.



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