Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs

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I stood behind a man at Walgreens buying two dozen eggs today. His children bounced up and down beside him. When, Dad, they asked. When do we get to dye our eggs?

I remember my mother trying to clean the house for Easter company, prepare the large ham for baking, all the while fending off our constant refrain: When are we going to dye the eggs?

She would send us out to play, to clean our rooms, to take a nap. Finally a dozen and a half eggs would be boiled. Two for each of us to dye, two for her to dye for herself and my father, and a few extras just in case.

Old chipped mugs and cups would be set on newspaper lining the picnic table in the backyard. McCormack’s colorful hatted liquid food colorings would be dropped in the vinegar scented boiling water: Robin’s egg blue, purple, orange, yellow, green, scarlet, as we discussed among ourselves which colors we would choose this Easter.

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One sibling would drop her egg in all the colors. In the end the poor egg resembled the color of weak coffee. We were fascinated and horrified at her choice to ruin one of her precious eggs.

We fought over colors and bickered over how much time each person took to achieve the perfect shade of orange. Our fingers turned various shades and someone always cracked an egg as they dropped it off the spoon into the cup.

When we had finished and our masterpieces were ready, we trooped to the dining room where seven baskets sat waiting for our artistic treasures. The eggs soon nestled in the green cellophane grass next to a hollow chocolate bunny or lamb, jelly beans and yellow marshmallow peeps.

As I watched the dad leave with a child in each hand, I thought of my own three, all grown now, wondering if their own memories of dyeing eggs was similar to mine.

Do they miss asking mom: When do we get to dye our eggs?

©annettealaine2017

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The Long Journey Home

The Long Journey Home

The first few months of 2017 have been quite eventful. The decision to sell the house and downsize has been accomplished.

Although my mind was made up to move forward and finally shed myself of this last piece of my past life, the emotions and memories it triggered were somewhat surprising.

I knew the sweet memories would flow as I packed up and sorted through my kid’s stuff- childhood memorabilia that brought good memories flooding back. Taking them to the pool, fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for picnics in the front yard, doll strollers and razor scooters, deflated basketballs and footballs that were used up.

Each closet, drawer or cupboard contained something from the past- bath toys, notes, legos and books. Watching my older sons sort and purge was like watching them grow up all over again. Their faces lit up in recognition as they uncovered some artifact, a memory recalled, then the item was packed into a storage bin, or placed in a pile to be given away.

The final week after moving out was sorting through the attic. The place we put all of the stuff we aren’t ready to part with just yet. If I thought sorting through the garage was a trip through the past, the attic was the place where broken dreams reside.

There were the usual holiday decorations, and the forgotten baby paraphernalia, along with a bin filled with nuggets saved from high school and college days- an unexpected treasure box for me to sift through later.

But, there were a number of boxes filled with personal items from the ex- left up in the attic to molder for the past ten years. I did not intend to open them, but they got wet in a sudden rainstorm. Sifting through the damp articles from his teen/young adult years, I realized I don’t know this person- and perhaps I never did.

I read some of his words, and my own, when we went on a weekend to try to salvage our relationship many years before we finally divorced. I heard the pain of my loneliness in my journal from that time. As I read some of his writing that weekend I recalled how disconnected he was from his wife and son.  Work has always been at the top of his priority list. And that never changed.

This house is the last tie we share. But it was never his house. We were relocated to different cities four times due to his job. This was the only move that was my choice. I wanted this house for my kids, and myself. A place chosen because it was a neighborhood filled with families and kids. . A place that felt like my own for the first time in our marriage. A place to call home.

And the dream was sustained for a while longer.  The house served its purpose.  My kids are filled with great memories, but the marriage did not survive. So I’ve packed up and moved on to a new dream,  leaving the past behind.

©annettealaine2017

 

Postscript: I’ve been writing and re-writing this piece for a number of days. I hesitated to write about my ex, out of respect for my children. But, in order to bring the last ten years to a close, this final act of shedding the past is significant to all of us. For my kids, the selling of a childhood home is a definitive end to childhood.  For me, it’s the last shackle to the past, a place and time that has influenced my writing for many years. Thank you to my husband for opening my world and filling it with so much love.

Dream Comes True

Wednesday evening I furiously packed the last few items in the house. In the darkness, I listened to the sounds of the house settling for the night. Surrounded by shadowy boxes, it was the last night in this house. Tomorrow I close this chapter, titled In Transition, begun ten years ago.

The moving truck arrived, and the cheerful workers carted out all the carefully packed boxes. Soon we were on our way, cars packed and one nervous kitty formed a caravan.

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Slowly over the past three days, the place is taking shape. Pots and pans have found their place. Re-purposing an old cabinet turned out just as we envisioned. We play our favorite CD’s as we sort and store our old things that now look fresh in this new environment.

We pause and look out the windows at the city view. We take breaks on our porch, watching a kayak glide across the river. We smile, we laugh  and we look around us in wonder. Our dream has come true.    img_4856

©annettealaine2017

Saying Goodbye

We’re at T- minus five days until the move.

I’ve collected seventeen garden bags of stuff given to charity,

given away a dining suite, sofa, chairs desk, table and more assorted furniture.

Taken one load to the storage unit and there’s at least one more trip before everything is tucked neatly away.

The walls are denuded, some rooms are bare.

Curtains are packed away, the garbage and recycling cans are overflowing.

My back is aching and I’m bone weary. There is no rest on my days off, there’s too much to do.

But I need to keep moving, keep wrapping, and sealing boxes.

If I stop I will have time to think,

to feel the wrenching pain of putting a dream long-lost away for good.

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These rooms are filled with memories- of birthday parties, and Christmas trees, Easter egg hunts, and a Halloween haunted garage.

Loud basketball games on the driveway, playing catch in the grass. Riding scooters and bikes down the hill. And hot summer days splashing in the community pool.

Sidewalks for skating, and backyards for playing hide and seek. Trees for climbing and streets wide enough for kickball and football games.

My dream was to provide my kids with a neighborhood- a place where they could wander and play with friends. That was my gift to fill their childhood with great memories.

Now it’s time to pursue a different dream- this one is for me. City life for a change.

©annettealaine2017

 

Digging Through the Past

I’m an excavator of my past.

Sifting through boxes and bins, I re-discovered the truth about myself, a truth that got buried and left to grow dusty in the garage.

I uncovered six or seven plastic bins shoved against the garage wall last week. As part of the ongoing purge to downsize, I immediately started lifting the layers of files, books and other detritus moldering in the boxes. search

I had to pack with little or no thought as two jobs changed quickly. The first set of bins from teaching Exceptional Student Education five years ago. I immediately recalled the acronyms that confused me in the early days on the job. My learning curve was steep as I inherited 100 students with mild disabilities that first year. I had to read extensively and re-learn how to write an Individual Education Plan (IEP) using computer software, and teaching middle school for the fist time. As I sorted through my stuff, I realized how fast I grasped the job and its responsibilities. I did not get discouraged with 100 students. I took it as a challenge to get all those IEP’s up to date with the school district.

Four more bins revealed an earlier life- my first two church jobs. I was amazed at all of my files containing training materials I created and details for each special service- Christmas, Holy Days and Easter. Underneath the books were reflections and papers written in graduate school. Three kids under the age of ten, a spouse who was on the road every week, yet somehow I completed school in four years going to class once a week and writing papers at the Y,  in the parking lot waiting for the kids, or late at night when everyone was in bed.

This past week I heard a talk on resilience. The ability to bounce back, to recover from big changes. Basically resilience is tied to your outlook on life. If you have hope that things will be better, you can weather change.

I have started over again many times, especially in the past ten years. Some changes were easy and some were real challenges. But looking through those boxes reminded me that I CAN change and I am resilient.    images-1

©annettealaine2017

The Magic of Christmas

It is the day before Christmas, and all through my house, the only creature stirring is my crazy cat.

It’s in this deep silence that I contemplate, the blessings that surround me this day.

The foggy skies wrap my house in stillness. The birds are quiet and the squirrels stay warm in their nests. The coffee pot burbles and ham sizzles; the grits create a sigh as they bubble on the stove.

I am grateful for feeding those at home today. Oldest son is already here, and the college girl has been home for a week. Husband will be working until late tonight, but for now he is enjoying a long winter’s nap.

I treasure my time to sit and write. To reflect on Christmas past, and anticipate this day. We will bake and watch Christmas movies, and enjoy a good dinner. We will dress up and make our way to the little church with its jeweled windows glowing. Fresh cedar greenery and wreaths hung with red bows surrounded by ruby colored Poinsettias will fill the space with beauty.

Families will greet one another, and we will sing all the beloved carols. We will light candles, and in their glow sing Silent Night.

We will drive by the lighted houses filled with decorations, slowing down to enjoy the spectacle. Back home in our pajamas, we will eat cookies and watch the Christmas Story again as we tell stories from our separate lives.

We will wait up until my husband comes in very late from the midnight service and then crawl off to bed. Santa no longer stops by this house, but there will be filled stockings in the morning, and just as eager as a child, the young adults will rub their eyes and thrust their hands into the depths to find out what goodies are inside.

And all of this reminds me that the magic of Christmas never dies.

Merry Christmas.

©annettealaine2016