Growing Up in the 60s & 70s

Girls on the Beach

I was born in 1959, so I grew up in the 60s and 70s. I often find myself going back to those times in my mind. I am the oldest of three girls. I was born at Fort Leavenworth when dad was in the Army, but my earliest memories of life start in a rented farmhouse near Sweetser, Indiana. My mind goes to my dog Happy, our ponies Sandy, Dandy and Candy, my school and learning to read, and my sweet sisters.

My sister, my dog Cocoa, and me.
We moved into town, in Marion, Indiana, however, before I started third grade. We moved into a little white house with a nice front porch and a pretty back yard with a garage out back. That is the home, on D Street, that I remember most, because it was in that home where I had neighbor kids to play with and I met my first real “hippy.”

Her name was Debbie, and she had long, straight reddish hair. She wore wire-rim glasses and loved animals. She wore “hippy” clothes as well. I remember when I found a black puppy that I knew belonged to my favorite classmate, Emilio Perez, and his family, she kept it for me overnight until I could walk him over to Emilio’s house. I also remember being fascinated by her. I would sometimes sit down on her front lawn and listen as she and some of her male friends would talk about how he just got out of jail, and whatever else they talked about. I’m sure my mother had no idea what I was doing. Back then, kids could play all over their neighborhood without parents being worried about them. When Debbie came home with a little red-haired baby, I got a strange lesson from mom when I asked her where that baby came from, since Debbie wasn’t married.

I think I was 9 years old or 10 at the time, and mom answered my question with a “she just slept with too many guys.”

I was completely stunned. I had no idea that sleeping with a guy could give a girl a baby. I had often slept with my cousin Bobby, who was my best friend. I was very worried for a few weeks that I might end up with a baby. Later, I learned what she meant, but, at the time, I really had no clue.

I suppose those days have been romanticized in my mind just because they’re “back there” in time, when I was innocent, and hadn’t ever heard of internet trolls or political pundits. Those years had their struggles, for sure, and I’m glad I’m past them in many ways. But, I do miss some things about those days.

I miss the family station wagon with the wood on the side. I miss family get-togethers with my aunts and uncles and cousins. I miss having a Kool-Aid stand in my front yard, and walking to the library to get a stack of books. I miss walking to school before Christmas and looking down the street to see the pretty decorations downtown. I miss our old black Chevy Impala convertible, that I called the Batmobile. I miss softball games in the park, going to church with my family in the little old church on 3rd Street, and the ice-cream stand across the street.

I miss my old dog, and playing Cops and Robbers with all of the boys in the neighborhood. I miss trick or treating and trying to dress up as the most disgusting person ever, with plenty of ketchup for blood. I miss Christmas morning, sneaking downstairs early to see if I could guess my presents.

I miss laughing with my sisters, playing LIFE and Monopoly. I miss playing with my cousins Bobby and Mark and becoming a spy, or a soldier, or a cowboy. I miss my cap gun and my little red wagon.

I really miss that family vacation, where we drove across the country and saw the Western U.S., Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and the Pacific Ocean. I miss singing “Let There Be Peace On Earth” at the top of my lungs with my sisters in the back of the car for the tenth time, while Mom and Dad rolled their eyes and laughed. I miss camping out, and eating around a fire and smelling the wood burn.

Drive Thru Tree
But, I’m also happy to be in the 21st century, where there are more opportunities for women and minorities, where I can be free from some of the trauma of my childhood days, and where I can relax in my own home, take a hot, whirlpool bath and play with my dog in the yard. I love taking a trip down memory lane, sure enough, but, I’m always happy to zoom right back to where I am now. And, from where I sit, the future looks promising.

Thoughts About Lent

cross on my apartment door

When I was a kid, I don’t remember much about Lent. I don’t think it was emphasized too much by the churches I attended. I don’t remember giving up anything. One of the most meaningful pre-Easter services, that I remember, however, was a Maundy Thursday Last Supper experience.

Several “Upper Rooms” were set up in the Fellowship area. We waited in line for our chance to go in, as a family, and partake of that Last Supper with Jesus. One empty seat was there to symbolize Judas’ place. Whoever served the last supper took the place of Jesus. I may not remember all of the details, but I do remember the awe of that experience, of feeling like I was intimately acquainted with Christ at his last meal, that I was one of his disciples and there was a real power to that ritual.

As I’ve grown and wandered the country, I have attended many different churches and many denominations. The denomination that resonates most with me is The United Methodist Church. This denomination follows the church calendar, and therefore, observes Lent. Last year, we were encouraged to participate in a Daniel fast, based on how Daniel and his companions ate while captives in Babylon, with no meat, no dairy, no sweeteners or wine. It was basically a vegan diet, and it was more difficult, in some ways, than just not eating at all. But, it was a nice experience nonetheless.

This year, I’ve been pondering how I wanted to observe Lent. One thing that I want to do is fast some, mainly to pray intently for the people of the Ukraine and their tumultuous situation. But, by everything I’ve been reading lately by Christian leaders and authors I respect, I’ve been encouraged to not think of Lent as some sort of second chance at making New Years’ resolutions. It’s a time to grow closer to God and to get rid of the things that stand in the way of that relationship. I have also been convicted that it is a good idea to think about what I need to ADD to my life — things like joy, prayer, courage, forgiveness, etc.

This morning, as I walked my treadmill after having morning devotions, I continued to experience God’s presence and we talked. My reflection led me to realize that God has given me everything I need for life. He has helped me overcome the trials of the past, and is trustworthy enough that I can give him my future. He emphasized that more important for me now than making a lot of plans and trying to improve myself like that, that I should trust him moment by moment — live in the moment so to speak, and relax. Stress doesn’t add anything to my life, but it is my attempt to control the future by trying to work every possibility out in my head ahead of time. That is not only unnecessary, it’s harmful. So, what I have been encouraged to do is just keep in step with the Spirit and let Him lead me, trusting him that he will provide for me.

Another thing we talked about was my pain and sorrow over Amber’s death. I came to the point of telling God that I would like to be healed, but, that I was fine with feeling pain once in awhile, because Amber is so worth it. Loving her in the past, and even now, is worth the pain, and knowing that she is happy and at peace, no longer struggling with her physical limitations and pains, is a chance for me to live like a loving mom still. I can be happy for her, and be at peace knowing that God took her at the appropriate time, and I am willing to feel the pain of separation, knowing that Amber is better off and free of pain. The thing I wanted most in the world for her was that she would be happy, and I longed to shield her from every pain. So, I must accept that she has that now more than ever before.

So, I will still feel pain, but I have peace about the pain.

I don’t know what my future holds, not sure how many days I have left walking this mortal land, but I am sure that I can trust God for what lies up ahead and fully embrace today, this moment is a gift and I plan to use it and cherish it.

Lost Notebook Finds

2014-03-05 15.45.42

I’m trying to neaten up and organize my office again. I still have a long way to go. One of the things I’ve been doing is looking through old notebooks to see if there’s anything I can use, or to see if it can be gotten rid of. I found one, just now, labeled “Amber Stuff” and flipped through it, seeing all the instructions I’d written out for my mother-in-law on her medicine schedule, use of her feeding pump and lift, as well as pages from the LINGO game we played, packing lists for various trips to Indiana, and prayers. I toyed with the idea of getting rid of it, as a step toward letting go, but ended up putting it in a memento box instead.

I found this little snippet of a poem-type essay. Not sure what it is really, but I thought I’d share. I may share other snippets in the future as I clean. Then again, I may let it drop like I did my Favorite Things series that dwindled fast. Sorry about that, but life interfered and now my mind is elsewhere.

Here is what I found written in a blue notebook.

“A God you can’t pin down
You can’t keep Almighty God in your pocket
or wave Him like a magic wand.
You can’t dissect and understand Him
the way you think you should
you cannot fit God into a mold you make up
He won’t jump through your hoops
like a trained dog.
And He won’t stand still
so you can stare
He won’t stay nailed to your cross
He won’t stay dead.
He’s alive and mighty and beyond your ken
His ways are a mystery
But when He speaks, when He lets you in,
you’d better listen and take it in
His words are life.

Take it for what it’s worth, but, it did intrigue me so I thought I’d share.