How Not to Get in Good With the Snotty Girls

imageAs I ran to the playground, I spotted my “sometimes friend” Betty Green deep in conversation with Rita Lawson, the principal’s snotty daughter. The choice of friendship each day was Betty’s. Her mother and mine were friends, so when when we we at my house or hers, chances are she’d be nice to me, unless she wasn’t.  I was a friendly kid and would have played with a rattlesnake. When Betty saw me running up, she turned her back, making it clear she didn’t want my company when she finally had Snotty Rita all to herself.  Ignoring her cue I tromped right in. “Wanna play chase?” They didn’t. They were both squalling and loftily resumed their tearful conversation, bonding over shared grief. It seems each had recently discovered the existence of a baby sister, dead and buried long before either of these two snotties were born. I listened in awe, caught up in the drama, knowing I had nothing to offer on the altar of their shared grief.

I rushed in and questioned Mother as soon as I got home. “Did you ever have a baby that died?”

No she didn’t. I had heard women whisper of losing babies. I had no idea what that meant, but it might be worth a try.

“Did you ever lose a baby?” She was hugely pregnant at the time and quite touchy.

“No, now get started on your homework. If you don’t have any, help me with supper.”

I recalled lots of homework. Remembering an ancient picture in a box in Mother’s closet, I prowled till I found it. Aha! This will surely get me in the dead baby club!  I slipped it into my math book, the first time that book had been opened at home that year.

Betty and Snotty Rita were still best buddies at recess the next day. I ran up, ignoring their cold looks, as I pulled my prize out of my jacket pocket. “Look, I have a picture of my dead baby sister. She died before I was born.” The sad image of an angelic baby in a white Christening dress, laid out in a homemade wooden coffin, her eyes closed in death was undeniable. Her black hair curled around her tiny face. They examined the picture somberly, giving me sympathetic looks as tears sprung to their eyes. I enjoyed their friendship for about thirty seconds until Betty turned the picture over and found scribbled, “Carrie Louise Perkins, born and died July 7, 1904.” I was out!!!

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How to Live All Your Life

Pencil sketch of Roscoe Holdaway by Kathleen Holdaway Swain done in 1941 when she was twelve.Kathleen's Pencil Sketch of Roscoe 1941On her last visit with her father, she tried to spend a lot of time with him, knowing it was unlikely she’d see him again.  Overwhelmed with the demands of a large family, she often felt her life was not her own.  Most afternoons, she struggled to get both little ones to nap at the same time and used that precious time to catch up on her laundry and whatever she couldn’t get done with them underfoot.  She’d come to visit with the intention of staying two weeks, but extended her visit to a third week, trying to get a lifetime of visits in before she lost him.
Up since five-thirty with a teething baby, she finally got both little ones down for a nap after lunch.  Though she yearned for a nap herself, she joined her father on the porch.  Watching from the open door, she memorized him before going out, think how frail he looked in his wool coat and old felt hat humped over in his straight chair in the brutal, August of the afternoon.  He’d laid his paperback Western open-faced on the porch-floor.  Inferring he must be heartbroken, knowing he couldn’t live much longer, she took a seat beside him thinking he might have something to say.
“Kat,” he started.  “I’ve been watching those ants on the ground down there.  Look how they are so busy on their little trail.  Some are rushing forward to pick up a load, and some are headed back to the nest all loaded down.  Every once in a while, a few of them stop to talk then turn round and round in the trail before getting back in line. Isn’t that something?”
Surprised to hear of his pleasure in the ants, she realized he wasn’t sad at all, just absorbed in their activity. She sat with him till her little ones awoke and called her back to the ant trail of her life.
That was the last time she spent alone with him.

Second Chances – One Lovely Blog Award Nominations

Reblog Second Chances.

An Upturned Soul

Have you ever done something and…

perhaps thought it was what you should be doing at the time, but…

awhile later you second guess yourself and wish you had a second chance,

but it’s too late,

the moving finger wrote and you can’t travel back in time to do things differently.

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the moving finger - omar khayyam

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So what do you do when you think you’ve made a mistake? Do you:

a) Try to turn your wrong into a right, justifying what you did, making excuses for yourself until you become entrenched in your position of being right… which will mean that if you get a second chance you may have to repeat your mistake because now you’ve made your mistake the thing that you must do as the wrong is now a right and anything else would be a wrong.

b) Move on and pretend it didn’t happen, use that skill known…

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