Friday, August 12, 2011

Well Water Runs Deep

It's a refreshingly beautiful day after a stretch of intense heat and I am sitting on my porch swing enjoying the balmy afternoon breeze. All decked out in her brightest swim suit and playing on the deck is my youngest grandchild Maggie. Her blond, natural curls are more tightly wound from the humidity of the past few days. The outside spigot is turned to a sizable trickle and there is enough water for her to repeatedly fill and empty her neon pink bucket. Occasionally she bends forward to sip the ice cold water snaking through the faded green hose, well water that runs deep within the earth on our three acre plot.

I  had the joy of watching Maggie grow for the past year and a half. But in a few days she will be off with her mother to start a new life in California. I am already feeling the familiar deep sadness of parting. Saying goodbye is never easy for me. Whether by death or a new life, moving across town or leaving the country to live in a tropical paradise, each parting holds its own melancholic circumstance.

The former days of 'goodbyes' quickly hoist the main sail and set me on a course toward nostalgia. I miss my own babies and waves of memories crash upon me.

Suddenly I am washed up on the shore of the 'other' house. There my family spent endless hours in our swimming pool. City living in the August heat with no air conditioning made us all thankful for that round pool of water. Sometimes we would swim until midnight to cool down before bed. Summer Sundays after church were almost a regimen with the kids enjoying their dad's secret recipe hamburgers on the grill and swimming all day. Once he made a giant burger. I still can't figure out how he flipped it without breaking it into pieces. I remember one morning I found a small hole in the pool wall. I imagined the worst when I discovered a bullet at the bottom of the water. To this day I am still grateful none of my babies were swimming when that 45 was fired. That experience was the biggest reason we sold the 'other' house. 

An old gray stockade fence outlined our tiny back yard edged with flower beds. My only son plucked those flowers from their bed to give a tiny bouquet to his kindergarten teacher. When his baby sister was born he took a picture to show Mrs. Margis and a bully on the playground ripped it out of his hands. David punched him right in the nose. 

An audience of daisies and lilies watched as my little Theresa and I played catch with a beach ball nearly as big as she was. The magnolia tree that was a Mother's Day present flowered twice in one summer and a lilac bush in the corner became a fort for David and Rachel to spy on the neighbors. In that yard we designed and built a wheelchair ramp for our oldest daughter, Sharon. The ramp became a sledding wonder in winter. Once, our Doberman Pinscher, who thought my children were her children, jumped over the aged, weathered fence to protect them from a fight between opposing school students. 

 David and his baby sister, Rebekah

Theresa and the beach ball

Heidi, the Doberman guardian

The most special Christmas Eve at the 'other' house was when Theresa was born. She was my joy baby. After the trauma of Sharon's birth and all the hardship that followed, I spent seven years questioning, grieving, and living with the fear of another 'bad' doctor delivery. But Theresa's birth was natural, uncomplicated and pure joy. That night in the hospital they brought her to me in a bright red stocking. Santa couldn't have picked a better gift! The saddest Christmas Eve was after my father-in-law passed away and I saw the pain and loss in my children's eyes for the grandpa they loved so much. 

 Me, Sharon, baby Theresa, and Rick

The last of five children, my baby, Rebekah, was born at the 'other' house. She was my healing baby. My mother passed away and on top of that I was deeply hurt in the church we were attending. When Bekah was born, I needed her as much as she needed me. I remember the day she was knocked off her bike by a neighborhood bully. He ran over her fingers and she had a bump by her left eye. The police officer who answered my complaint gave her a teddy bear for being so brave. Teddy was part of the Bear With Me program set up for children in crisis situations. Bekah's crisis was minor but I appreciated Officer Freeman's compassion.

Hubby and I literally saved our quarters at the 'other' house to build a one car garage. Whenever we had a few spare dollars we converted them to quarters and dropped them in a huge glass piggy that took up a corner of our bedroom. We often stockpiled our glass deposit Pepsi bottles to get our quarters back just to feed piggy. Eventually the garage was built and our little Rachel pushed her nose up against it in a pout more than once. One winter a giant heater kept that garage warm while Rick and I painted a sign on my father-in-law's old work van that we inherited for our business, "Mokry Carpet Service". 

 Rachel and the cutest pout ever

The kitchen in the 'other' house was small but we managed to squeeze all seven of us around the table for dinner. We had a patio door to the backyard which made the little mess hall feel bigger but our driveway was the only view from the side window. That landed a memory the day my blond haired little boy stood there singing an ode to the big, yellow sun. Even at the tender age of three he revered its warmth.  It's no wonder to me now that he has chosen to live in Brazil. 

Before we finished the basement in the 'other' house the sewer backed up and destroyed pictures, journals, yearbooks, and other sentiments. I cried while I mopped up the stale water and sopping mess. After some repairs I dried out the basement and my tears, then built a giant pink bedroom and a bathroom for our girls. Sharon loved the independence of the new back door with remote opener, and an electric lift on the basement stairs so she could have wheelchair access. Theresa, David, Rachel, and Rebekah found hours of entertainment using the lift as a carnival ride. We still laugh about the time their dad and I raised the lift and trapped them in the basement and David scaled up and over it to free his sisters.

I remember the last bittersweet summer in the 'other' house ended with a For Sale sign crowned with a big red Sold. Sweet water memories were washed away with the pool the new owners didn't want.

A giggle of Maggie's laughter pulls me from my nostalgic journey and I return to 'this' house. A 130 year old homestead that houses its own memories. Good, bad, tragic, sad, funny old memories. Memories as deep as a well, pulled up in the watery bucket of my mind to be poured out for my children and grandchildren. Because some day they might sit on their own porch swing and journey back over their life in the 'other' house or 'this' one where well water runs deep.   

1 comment:

  1. Your bittersweet summer, I wish I had known you then. I would have hugged you and told you how sorry I was for the loss for your precious moments. You button is on my blog love page. Thank you so much for putting my button on your sidebar . Big Hugs!!


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