It’s been said that you shouldn’t compare your life to the lives of others. I don’t entirely agree with this. Sometimes I think this is the only way you truly can get an accurate measure of some things…like how lucky you are.
I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I was in my thirties. Nearly two decades had passed since my last climb on the jungle gym, my last true swing on the swings or the final time I careened down a playground slide.
After gaining a little of the wisdom that comes trudging blind through the joys, sorrows, and mysteries of adulthood for a few years my eyes began to open a little. Although my childhood wasn’t perfect I began to see how rare and precious it was.
My dad was a welder. Back in the 1970’s he earned enough money to allow my mom to stay home with my brother and I. One income families were even becoming more rare then. Most of my friend’s parents both worked outside the home. Many of these kids hung out at our house during summer vacation. My mom would make enough PB&J or bologna sandwiches and chicken noodle soup for however many kids were at our table that day.
Despite never having much money my earliest memories are warm, safe, and very loving. I’m thankful that I still remember lots of them. Before my brother was born (we’re 3 ½ years apart) my Mom would load me up in a little red Radio Flyer wagon and pull me up to the neighborhood store. I remember us taking our time on those walks and looking at the birds and the flowers in the spring and the colorful leaves in the fall.
We spent a lot of time together, her and I, we were buddies. She would patiently answer any and all of questions my little brain could generate. In the afternoons there was a small window of time between house cleaning and having to start dinner. Mom and I would watch Sesame Street and Mister Rogers together. She would also read to me from a growing library of Golden Books and the stories of Dr. Suess.
We didn’t have video games or many of the other distractions kids have today. Sometimes before Sesame Street we would move the dining room chairs in the living room and arrange them in a circle and drape a sheet over top of them, making a pretty amazing fort. We would take an old Quaker Oats container and turn it into a kid-sized bongo drum.
It was during these games of “pretend” I discovered my imagination could take me away from our little 700 square foot house to anywhere I wanted to be. I credit these games of pretend with providing me with the imagination I use now every day to craft fiction, poetry and even these blog posts.
Soon my brother was born and the dynamic of the family changed but Mom taught me how to share and be gentle and patient with him. Soon we became the three amigos and were always together. My brother started to join us on those wagon rides to the neighborhood store.
Now that I’m in my mid-forties I think back to those memories and they seem like they happened lifetimes ago. So many new memories are crammed between then and now. Those early experiences provided me with the bedrock on which I have built my life.
My Mom taught me to be patient, caring, forgiving, and loving. Thanks to the the gift of that simple and pure childhood my parents gave me I know how survive through the ups and downs of life. I am content with very little in lean times and I fully appreciate abundance when it does come my way.
I’m happy to say that my Mom and I are still best buds. We live almost a thousand miles away but we still talk a few times a day. She is my rock, my personal advisor, my trusted friend. In many significant ways she made me who I am today. Words could never express the gratitude that I feel towards her but I will try.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice, your patience, and giving so freely of yourself. Those early years were so precious. I have found nothing in this world quite like a Mother’s love. Because of you I have felt more than my share of its warmth. I love you always.
Happy Mother’s Day!
~Eric Vance Walton~