Hold on to your straw hat, this is a long one. A trip down Memory Lane...
As I'm working on my genetic family tree I'm flipping through old pictures I saved to my online gallery there. Pictures of family, people that I love, including people that I can no longer hug and that have left a place in my heart of bittersweet ache.
Part of the fun of the researching my ancestry is discovering things I never knew. Tracing my history back to royalty in England from 4 different lines on my father's side. Discovering a half Aunt that we never knew about through the dna testing. Even a pair of kissing cousins about 5 generations back LOL.
I'm English, Irish and Belgium, followed by Scottish, Viking/Norway and Wales, with some from Switzerland, Germany, and France. I wonder what I will learn in my mother's tree. A lot of military men in my family on both sides, Air Force, Navy, Army, Merchant Marines.
Stepping back in time. Flashes of memories through my mind. Making me smile, leaking a tear or two. Reminiscing the happiest times of my childhood that seem like yesterday.
I can remember vividly the most amazing details. It's interesting what you see and notice when you're closer to the ground. Funny how children seem to stop and pay attention to things that adults no longer do.
I've always been the sentimental type. Holding on to little inherited things that many people probably would throw away. To me it is a little piece of my history, of my ancestors.
Then there are the little notes, letters, greeting cards and a mountain of old photographs. A lock of my baby's hair, my Grandma's sorority pin, a Great Grandfather's antique spectacles, my Grandpa's pair of cuff links and linen kerchief, my MiMi's ring, my PaPa's military sewing kit. Just a few trinkets of so very many I wouldn't dream of parting with. They sit quietly in a drawer until I'm ready to go there.
I miss having physical photo albums. In this digital age the photos are now filed away as jpgs in virtual albums for over a decade now. My older photographs are all stored in decorative storage boxes. There are a lot. Most without digital copies. I keep saying I'm going to scan them some day... I am a photographer so to throw away a picture is unfathomable. When I bring myself to pour through them, my heart weeps from my eyes. Happy, sweet memories.
I recall long car rides as a child to the country to visit my Great Aunt Dode and my Uncle Ted at their farm. My great aunt would make us the most magnificent pieces of art out of crochet to wear. Once she crocheted little flowers for us to play with. She tried to teach us but we were too ancy and excited. In the den there was a cuckoo clock and it would ring on the hour, every hour and cuckoo to our delight.
In the front of the farmhouse there was a sidewalk with little marbles that had been set into the concrete before it dried. They were the most glorious colors, blues, greens, reds and oranges. An old, large sweetgum tree out front dropped the little prickly balls into the sand below it. It was the strangest tree I had ever seen and we loved it.
There was fishing in the pond behind the farmhouse with cane pole rods. We would watch Uncle Ted on his big tractor out in the farm tending to the gardens. Aunt Dode was always cooking something from that garden in the kitchen. I'll never forget the bathroom because there was an old fashioned Victorian toilet with a pull chain hanging down as the top chamber was very high up, closer to the ceiling. They were proud of the indoor bathroom. For many years they didn't even have one in the farmhouse, it was in addition they built later on, long before I came along.
Many weekends were spent with my mother's parents, Grandma and Grandpa Vickery. Most of our childhood Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were spent at their little house. She kept plastic on the sofa, saved all the wrapping paper and closets were packed to the brim with dresses, mothballs and handmade quilts. It was due to living through the depression. She always "fixed her face" (wore makeup). We sat on the floor and played with weeble wobbles and matchbox cars. The twin headboards would rattle during naps because they had bookshelves built in. We would put on plays for them. It was fun to dress up in my grandmother's night gowns and clothes. We would make drawings for her. Once we made puppets out of socks with buttons for eyes and put on a puppet show.
Grandpa would come home from the bakery covered in flour in his white uniform and hat. He would sit in his recliner with me and my sister in his lap, one on each side. As a special treat he would take us to get donuts at Dunkin' Donuts or to get ice cream at Baskin Robbins. We really got excited when Grandpa would make us homemade vanilla ice cream. He made it with what is now an antique metal hand cranked ice cream maker. It seemed take forever adding the ice and salt. It was the best ice cream that I've ever had to this day.
My grandmother would make us little snacks in the kitchen. She was making lunchables before they were a thing being sold in the grocery store. Little crackers with cheese, lunch meat and pickles. She sliced up tomatoes and put salt on them. My grandmother would eat onions raw. I think our favorite snack was watermelon with salt in the summertime. One time we were able to pick berries behind the house where their yard backed up to a wooded lot. It snowed once and looked like a greeting card with the lamp post in the front yard. There was a big wooden swing in the backyard. Right after my Grandpa passed, I remember having a dream of him swinging with me on that swing. He told me everything was going to be okay.
We adored them. Hugs and kisses to heaven.
Visiting the maternal Great Grandparent's old house, less frequent, it was also in the country. We spent a lot of time playing outside. The women were inside making jams and jellies. Mayhaw jelly. You can't buy that at the grocery store!
Going to the paternal Great Grandparents... Great had chickens in the backyard and a big wooden porch swing on the front porch. That swing was big fun! We loved that old house and visiting her. Spent most of the time in her kitchen. She made us feel loved.
My paternal PaPa, he was so funny. Always had the best, funniest and wildest stories to tell. PaPa was larger than life with his embellishments. His smile would light up an entire room. I remember he and Grandma Toni would blow into town from one of their trips in an RV. He would give us neat unique little nick knacks they found on the road. They were antique dealers so would travel all over the country. My love of antiques and thrifting was started with them. I always looked so forward to just talking to him. I never got tired of his storytelling.
My paternal MiMi. She was so elegant and graceful. I thought she was the greatest lady, very refined. She kept a little menagerie of glass animals. There were giraffes, elephants, turtles and birds. My sister and I stayed in the guest room with two twin beds and frilly porcelain baby dolls on them. There were pretty french sconce lights on the wall. Everything in her home seemed fancy to us. She liked to wear jewelry of animals too. I bought her a green crystal brooch of a bird once for her birthday. When she was older I helped her roll and fix her hair before I took her to the hospital for visits. She was so fragile then.
When I get in these moods I think of my first real, passionate love too. I was 17, he was 16. His name was Allen White. Tall, blonde, blue-eyed, so handsome. I have the sweetest pics of him. In one he is sleeping with a puddle of kittens on top of him. So many crazy, carefree adventures. We were so young. Engaged twice. Remained friends. He died right after he turned 27. He had the most infectious smile and laugh of anyone. I still cry when certain songs come on the radio that remind me if him. Fly free sweetheart. Gone too young.
I'll see you all again someday...
My love to my angels in heaven.
xo Love Bohemian Queen