Zoe came out of her apartment, zipping up her hoodie as she tried to locate her car keys in her large purse at the same time. She moved down the hallway to the stairs and quickly ran down to the lobby. She stopped to check their mailbox on the way through, and she squealed in excitement when she found the envelope she’d been waiting for. She kissed it for luck and tore it open.
A moment later, she dashed out the lobby doors and ran through the park, heading for the apartment building opposite hers. She was in mid-run when she screeched to a halt, seeing the very person she was running towards, working in the park gardens.
“Annelise!” she cried, waving the envelope, “Annelise, it came!”
The teenaged girl, working in the garden at the base of a fast-growing young tree, turned to stand up as she approached at a run.
“Well?” Annelise grinned, “Did you get in?”
“Yesssssss!!!!” Zoe cried, and the two young women hugged each other as they hopped up and down. “Now we’ll still be together! Four years of High School and soon two years of College!”
“This is wonderful!” Annelise laughed, “The dynamic duo rides again! Did you tell your Mom?”
“Not yet,” Zoe said,”I just grabbed the mail on my way out the door. I wanted to tell you first!”
“I’m glad you did,” Annelise said, “I was getting worried I’d have to attend State College by myself. I wasn’t looking forward to making new friends.”
“Aw, you’d have done great,” Zoe told her, “You’re a stellar student, you’re pretty, and you make friends easily. I would have had a harder time starting somewhere new.”
“You don’t give yourself enough credit,” Annelise said, wiping the sweat off of her brow with her forearm. She crouched back down to continue weeding the forget-me-nots at the base of the tree.
“Hey, why don’t we go out for a burger and a malted to celebrate?” Zoe asked.
“That sounds great,” Annelise said, “Let me finish up here. I wanted to weed and plant this pack of impatiens.”
“That tree has grown so much,” Zoe said, “The flowers look so pretty around it, too.”
“Yes, thanks,” Annelise said, “I think he’d like it, don’t you?”
“He sure would,” Zoe told her, “But you told me he liked everything you did. How long has he been gone now, Annelise?”
“Six years, “Annelise said, “We planted this tree in his honor the spring after he died. I wish he was still here to sit in its shade. He’d have liked that, too.”
“I wish I’d met him,” Zoe said, “It sounds like he was a great guy.”
“Barney was a sweet and wonderful old man,” Annelise said, “He liked the park, his store, the kids, the sunshine, the flowers and trees and chocolate ice cream cones.”
“He liked you, too, Annelise, and he would be proud of how you’ve grown, too,” Zoe said, patting her shoulder.
“Thanks, Zoe,” Annelise sniffed, “Go tell your Mom about your acceptance letter. I’ll finish here and go wash up and meet you in about a half an hour.”
“You got it,” Zoe said, turning to run back towards her apartment.
Zoe dashed back inside the building and didn’t see Annelise wipe away a tear as she continued planting flowers at the base of Barney’s tree.
Image courtesy of Pinterest
I was inspired by Suzie’s post yesterday about life experiences. You can see her original posting here – http://suzie81speaks.com/2014/06/21/life-experiences/.
I have not been to any of the exotic places she mentions in her post. In fact, I haven’t been anywhere much at all (parts of the United States and Canada). I am not much of a traveler. My life experiences are more basic in nature. Some of you might say they are boring, but I feel very blessed to have experienced them all. Here they are in no particular order:
- Receiving my first college degree at age 55 and graduating with the highest honors. Walking across that stage 37 years after I graduated from High School was just as exciting as it would have been at age 20. In fact, I am glad that I waited so long. It meant more to me.
- Marrying the love of my life on a cold, rainy November day 25 years ago. 25 years this year, people. In today’s world where some marriages don’t even last 25 weeks, 25 years is a big deal. We’ve been through a lot together, but who hasn’t in 25 years’ time? Walking down that aisle I felt such calm and peace come over me. I wasn’t nervous at all. My brother (who gave me away since my Dad had died two years before I got married) was shaking life a leaf. I had no fears or concerns. It felt right (and it was).
- Giving birth not once but twice. I felt the miracle of life twice, and I knew such joy when I heard those first cries. When son # 1 arrived, I was the one who announced, “it’s a boy!” When son # 2 came along, we knew ahead of time that he was a “he”. I had had amniocentesis because at age 36 the doctor declared I was at “advanced maternal age” and he suggested I have testing beforehand to make sure all was well. I would develop pregnancy-induced hypertension with son # 2 and end up out of work 7 weeks before my due date. My delivery with son # 2 was also more difficult (for both me and for the baby). I was not aware of the distress that the baby was under, but Hubby was. He could see the baby’s heart rate monitor; I was blissfully unaware. The doctor would end up using vacuum extraction to coax son # 2 into the world. Today, I am so proud of the handsome young men who call me “Mom”. I couldn’t have asked for better sons.
- Learning to drive and passing my driving test on the very first try. I learned to drive in a 1976 Oldsmobile Delta ’88 Royale. It was my Father’s car, and it was a boat. I remember the first time my Mom let me drive it on a country road and her cringing when she thought I was too close to the mailboxes on the passenger’s side. I did not take my test in that car. At age 21 I bought my first car – a small hatchback – a 1979 American Motors Spirit. That car was so easy to drive and maneuver.
5. Spending all major holidays and important celebrations when I was a child with my extended family – parents, brother, grandparents, cousins and aunt. Some of my happiest memories are of those family gatherings and all of us seated around the same table. We didn’t have a lot, but we had each other, and we always celebrated together. We took vacations together, too. We spent summers camping in the Thousand Islands so my Dad and Grandfather could go fishing. I miss so many of them now. Death or distance separates us.
- Having two loving, supportive parents. My folks were always there for me. When I think of my childhood or childhood home, I see my parents. My Mom working in the yard, baking in the kitchen or sitting in her chair, reading. My Dad cutting the grass, painting the house, working on the car, napping in his recliner. My dad worked hard and was home every night. My mom was a stay at home mom who greeted me with a smile every day when I came home from school or work. They were my biggest supporters, and I never felt unloved.
When I married, I gained a second set of parents. My in-laws were nothing but supportive. When we started out, they were always there to lend a hand. When son # 1 was a baby, Grandma and Grandpa did daycare duties. I can still see Dad sitting in his chair with my son, patiently reading the same Sesame Street books over and over again. I remember one book in particular (Big Bird looking for something red). My son started Kindergarten already knowing how to read. When we bought our house, they were there to help us get settled. Over the years they were always there.
7. All the time I spent with my cousin while growing up. We were inseparable. My parents called her “our second daughter”. She spent lots of time at our house. We laughed at the same things. During the summers we’d ride our bikes “to meet each other”, and then we’d either ride back to my house to hang out or ride on to my Grandmother’s house to hang out. It was hard losing her daily presence in my life when she moved from New York State to Texas. Her half of the family went to Texas in the mid 80’s. She’s now in Michigan (having met her Michigan-born husband in Texas). She’s closer but still too far away to see often. We still enjoy each other’s company, and when we do talk it’s as if we’d never been apart. We still laugh at the same things.
- Stolen moments with my trucker husband. He’s only home 34 hours each week. We have to make the most of what we have. We usually try to have a meal out together if we can. It’s nice to go on dates even if it’s just out for a burger or a coffee. If we can’t manage that, we snuggle up together and watch old re-runs on TV.
I would not have had the memories or the life experiences that I have had without the fantastic, loving and supportive family that I have. Family is everything to me.