Tag Archives: memory

A Taste of Independence

I think the first time I felt independent was when I finally got my driver’s license. It took me a while to go to the DMV to actually get it because I was so afraid I would fail. When I finally did take my road test, the guy with the clipboard in the passenger seat did not help. He wanted me to pretend that I was parking going downward on a hill when we were actually heading up a hill. When I moved the wheels the wrong way, at least he didn’t mark it against me!

The first summer I had my driver’s license, my aunt let me borrow her silver Cadillac. My sister, cousin and I bounced into the car. We were going to the movies. As we drove, our arms loosely draped out of the open windows, we turned the radio up and sang along at the top of our voices.

Highway to the Danger Zone.

We were going to see the best summer movie EVER.

I feel the need…the need for speed!

That’s right. We were going to see Top Gun.

While the silver Cadillac didn’t accelerate using g-forces, that sense of freedom on a warm summer night was exhilarating. Sometimes being the oldest child in the family is awesome!

Sometimes, though, being the oldest child is also scary. I was the first to go away to college. I loved being away from home…and hated it. Those first few months were really hard. It was before cell phones and email, so I had to call my family collect. Will you accept the charges?

I don’t remember why, but I guess I thought I had to be independent and I held off calling my parents for 9 weeks. I was busy after all, hanging out with my new friends 24 hours a day, taking classes, doing homework, and going to the student union. We did send real letters to each other (you can read some of them here). When I finally heard my mom and dad’s voice on the phone, however, I remember feeling so happy and yet missed them so much that I burst into tears!

Independence; sometimes exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking.

When do you remember feeling independent?

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A 70’s Summer

When I was young, I still had my regular bedtime during the summer. That meant that I was in bed with the light streaming through the windows while I could hear my friends outside, still playing. Once I yelled out to them through my open window, but my mom, who used that time to garden, heard me. She immediately told me to get back in bed!

grandparents' house
Visiting my grandparents over the summer

We lived in a very small town of about 800 people. Our moms rarely arranged playdates for us; we just went to each other’s house and rang the doorbell. We had to stay on our side of the tracks, however. There was no class division about this rule; the tracks ran along the highway and it would have been too dangerous to cross the tracks by ourselves. One good friend lived out on a farm, so it was a special treat when her mom was in town and she rang our doorbell to play. But sometimes, it was just my sister and me, hanging out by the driveway because our mom had kicked us out of the house to play.

Some days it seemed so hot that we could see the heat radiating from the white, concrete driveway. We just couldn’t get up the energy to run around, and we would just sit there, pining for the popsicles we had just made that were still liquid in the freezer. On those hot summer barefoot days, the tar would bubble up from the blacktop roads and make black circles on the soles of our feet, which were impossible to scrub off in the bathtub.

Other days, we would ride our bikes to the park, which surrounded the water tower at the middle of town. It was always fun to ride around that circular road that circumvented the swings, merry-go-round, and teeter-totters. The teeter-totters were long and high at one end, and also very dangerous. I’m afraid I wasn’t very nice to my sister when I’d leave her hanging at the top and got off, letting her drop to the ground. She got me back a few time, and hitting the ground while sitting on a hard wooden seat hurts!

As the pastor’s family, farmers would bring us bushels of tomatoes, sweet corn and of course, zucchini. Mom would fry up bacon and we would have BLTs for dinner. I still love BLTs in the summer! As a kid, I hated corn on the cob. I just didn’t know how good I had it! I love BLTs and corn on the cob for a summer supper.

When we were allowed to stay up late, we would catch lightning bugs and put them in jars. My sister still chastises me when I call them fireflies. To us, they were always called lightning bugs!

What do you remember about summer?



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Game Plan {Spin Cycle}

When I was about 5 years old, my mom would drive my sister and me 35 miles to Champaign-Urbana to see Frances. Frances was my mom’s voice teacher. Supplied with crayons and coloring books, my sister and I would sit under the grand piano while my mom sang and talked with her teacher. It wasn’t long, however, before two more babies came into our family, and Mom’s voice lessons were put on hold.

Even though Mom didn’t take voice lessons any more, she sang constantly. She sang to us, her children. She sang solos in church, at weddings and funerals. As the pastor’s family, we were also always singing. We would accompany our Dad to various nursing homes, and our family would sing hymns at the small chapel services or at someone’s bedside.

Once the four of us kids grew up, Mom went back to voice lessons. This time, she took the train downtown Chicago to study with a voice teacher. As she was practicing, Mom would tell me what her teacher told her to improve her singing, and I would tag along with her to various choir auditions and recitals for moral support.

I went to see her in concerts and even an opera, where she sang in the chorus. I talked on and off with Mom about taking voice lessons of my own. She coached me, and encouraged me to find a teacher, but I procrastinated. I was busy with work. I was going to school for my graduate degree. Then I got sick. Mono one summer, and cancer the next. Down the road a piece, I got married and had babies. There was no time for me to go to voice lessons, but I secretly made a game plan. I would go to voice lessons when my life was less crazy.

A couple of weeks ago, my church choir director announced that two members of our choir were starting a music studio and were teaching voice lessons. I sing constantly; I sing every morning to my preschool class, I sing in the summer when I’m leading Vacation Bible School, and I sing to Emmy at bedtime. I decided that now, when I only have a part time job and both girls are in school, would be the perfect time to take voice lessons. How could I pass up this opportunity?

I had my first voice lesson last night. I like the teacher, I have already learned some new things and am relearning some things I had forgotten. And I have two songs to sing! One in English and one in German!

My goal is not to become a soloist. I want to learn better techniques; how to breathe correctly, how to have a more even tone, even to increase my range with practice. These things will help me with my every day singing.

The voice lesson game plan is coming together!

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Do you have something you’ve always wanted to do? What’s your game plan?

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Tulips

Ed started apologizing for the tulips he was carrying before he even sat down next to me. “Emmy picked them out, and as we were walking out of the store I remembered you’re allergic to them,” he said.

“Honestly,” I replied, “I really didn’t remember that. I think I’ll be fine.” We settled down together to watch Lily’s ballet recital that afternoon, and she would be the recipient of the tulips after the show.

Tulips (2)

Many years ago, I was a young student teacher in a middle school resource room. My cooperating teacher was amazing, and I loved teaching those kids. Dennis was a boy I particularly remember. He was in sixth grade, and yet he was fourteen since he had been held back a couple of times. He was shy and quiet, and acted younger than his fourteen years. Every morning, it became his habit to bring me a tulip. The bottom of the stem would be rough and ragged where he had torn it off. Hoping that Dennis had not stolen the tulip from the neighbors, I always placed it in a cup of water and kept it in the middle of the table where I spent most of my day working with small groups. I began to notice a pattern; I would feel fine in the evenings and early morning, but as soon as I started teaching my nose would run like crazy. It didn’t take long to make the connection between the tulip and the sneezing.

I kept that connection to myself, and Dennis continued to bring me a tulip each morning. On the last day of student teaching, I held back the tears until I made it to the car. I learned so much about teaching that semester, and would miss the teacher and students I worked with. After graduation, I found a job and worked with many, many students in the years to come. Remembering all the students I taught makes me smile–and I have a special fondness for the boy who brought me tulips.

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Drive

It was the first summer I had my driver’s license. My aunt let me borrow her silver Cadillac. My sister, cousin and I bounced into the car. We were going to the movies.

As we drove, our arm loosely draped out of the open windows, we turned the radio up and sang along at the top of our voices.

Highway to the Danger Zone.

We were going to see the best summer movie EVER.

I feel the need…the need for speed!

That’s right. We were going to see Top Gun.

While the silver Cadillac didn’t accelerate using g-forces, that sense of freedom on a warm summer night was exhilarating.

And I knew how to drive.

Do you remember when you first got your driver’s license? Share a memory in the comments!

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