|Mama and me long, long ago|
I thought about her yesterday, since it would have been her birthday. Mama was born on July 30, 1923, and became a mother when she was nineteen. That makes the picture more than seventy years old. I'm sure it was taken by Daddy with his camera and preserved on Kodachrome, which shows Mama's beautiful long red hair, and my own blond baby locks. She used henna to bring out the natural auburn highlights in her hair. I remember when she would put what looked like mud onto her hair and wrap it in a warm towel, not forgetting to smear her eyebrows, so she looked fearsome to me, not knowing why she was doing it.
I've noticed that I remember things from my past that caused me to feel either fear or excitement, which helped the memory form permanently in my brain. I think of all the moments that have passed into oblivion because nothing caused them to stand out. I'm grateful for those moments that I still remember to this day. I have many fond memories of my childhood.
Probably one of my earliest memories came from a time when we had just moved to Puerto Rico. Daddy was stationed at Ramey Air Force Base, and we lived just a few blocks from the Caribbean Ocean. My parents must have taken me down there for the first time, and I saw a rather large crab walking on the sand in front of me. I was terrified, watching it scuttle sideways with its claws out and eyes on stalks. I started to cry, and realized that I had paid so much attention to the creature that I lost sight of my mother, which made me cry even harder. That memory comes back to me in technicolor, and I still see that crab in my mind's eye. Of course Mama came to find me, but my terror caused that moment to become a strong memory that stayed with me.
Even though we moved a lot during my childhood, I felt safe and protected because of my parents. Norma Jean and I had a rather idyllic childhood, I realize now, and most of my memories are good ones. Of course, there must have been moments when things were not so wonderful, but they are gone into the past, unretrievable because they didn't make an impression. That's just fine with me.
Norma Jean and I were as close as sisters ever are, and most of my childhood memories are shared with her. Sometimes we will talk about those times together, since we are the only ones still alive who remember them. And it always amazes me how differently we remember the same event. It makes me realize that memories are unique and probably bear little resemblance to actuality. Does it matter? I don't think so: I cherish the memories of my childhood and am glad that they are infused with happiness and feelings of being loved and safe.
How different the world is today. It's been a long time since that idyllic picture was taken, and now we have instantaneous communication across the globe. When something happens in (for example) France, I know about it immediately. And the sense of safety that I had growing up is completely gone; now I am cautious and worried when I see anything out of the ordinary. It must be very hard these days to give a child the same sense of security that I took for granted when I was young. But it's still possible; I see how my young friend Leo's parents shelter him from the news of world disasters. I was standing in line at the coffee shop behind Leo's mom after the Orlando shootings and started to talk about it with her, but she stepped between me and Leo and shushed me. I realized that she didn't want him to know about it. I stopped immediately but also thought about how difficult it must be to protect him from knowing about these awful events.
But as a child, what is most important is that you feel safe in your world, and events far away mean little. What was happening in the world when that picture was taken meant nothing to me. The Second World War was going on, with all the horrors that brought, but I knew nothing about it. Of course, we didn't have the instant communication of today's world, which made it easy to think that what was happening in my little sphere was universal. Not today.
I just went over to check on the news, which I do these days with trepidation. What awful event has happened while I slept? I see that there have been more shootings and that a hot-air balloon caught fire and went down in Texas, killing everybody aboard. The media capitalizes on these events and ignores all the good things that happened yesterday, because it's not news. I wonder how in the world I would protect a child from upsetting world events if I were trying to do it today. It would become harder and harder, the older they get.
Then again, the world of today is probably normal for most children. They have grown up with tablets and iPads and smartphones surrounding them. What is probably more important is the attitude of the adults in their lives. It makes me happy to see young people enjoying life and learning all the things that each of us still must learn to become responsible adults. That's going on around me in such abundance that I should concentrate on the positive aspects of life, rather than worry and fret about that over which I have no control.
I suppose it's inevitable as I grow older that I long for times gone by, thinking about "once upon a time" rather than looking for ways to distract myself from the ills of the world, which inundate me every time I open the news. Maybe that's what people are doing when they are playing something like Pokémon Go, the latest craze that I know nothing about. It's all over the news. Here's an excerpt from that link:
It quickly became an overnight global phenomenon and one of the most used mobile apps, reportedly having been downloaded by more than 75 million people worldwide. It was credited with popularizing location-based and augmented reality gaming.I kept hearing about it, and I've seen people walking in groups down the street, looking at their smartphones, and I learned from Wikipedia that they are playing the Pokémon Go game. No, I'm not even tempted. I'm much more likely to pick up a new book or watch a series on Netflix than I am to spend time staring at my phone. I am curious to know whether any of my readers knows anything more about this phenomenon than I do.
Whatever. Today's world is a scary place, and if some people enjoy the distraction of playing games on their phone, who am I to object? We all have our coping mechanisms, and I have mine. I am currently reading a memoir that I'm enjoying very much: Breaking Night by Liz Murray. She was living on the streets at the age of fifteen but turned her life around and made it into Harvard. She's a good writer, too.
I did also want to say something about another coping mechanism of mine: my yoga classes. After I finish this post and stop at the coffee shop to visit my friends and quaff my espresso, I'll head to my Sunday morning yoga class with Laifong. I leave there each Sunday morning feeling terrific, as well as a little bit sore. She's teaching us very slowly how to get into a shoulder stand, using props such as a chair and wooden blocks. Fortunately for me, I am neither the oldest nor the most inflexible student in her class. I'm also learning some balancing poses. There was a time when all the stuff we're doing was easy for me. But that was then, and this is now, and I'm thrilled to be doing as well as I am. It sure helps to have a caring teacher.
Well, that is going to wrap it up for me this morning. I keep looking at the time and thinking about where I will be in two hours, and all that needs to happen between now and then. I hope you will have a wonderful week until we meet again. That said, with John F. Kennedy's immortal words, I'll close this post:
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.I don't want to miss out on the future!