A to Z Blog Challenge – N is for Nell

NellNELL

Nell turned in exasperation to her daughter as she lagged behind her yet again.

“Rosie, will you please stay with me?” she asked, “We can get this done a lot faster if you stop pulling things off of the shelves.”

“What does vanilla bean do?” Rosie asked her, holding up a bottle of vanilla bean pods.

“They make vanilla flavoring. That’s where you get the vanilla taste from in your ice cream,” Nell said.

“Ewwwwwww. Beans!” Rosie said, putting the bottle back, “Mommy, can we get ice cream when we’re done shopping?”

“We can if you stay with me,” Nell said, pushing the stroller with the sleeping baby inside a little faster, “Come on, Rosie, we have a lot of ground to cover yet. Maybe you can help me pick out the cereal and cookies, huh? Bring the cart, sweetie.”

Rosie pushed the cart through the store behind her, and together they finished up the shopping. When they got outside, they transferred the bags of groceries to the red wagon that they’d brought along with them. It was old but still reliable.

“Wagon or stroller?” Nell asked Rosie.

“Stroller!”

“Well, don’t tip your sister out. She finally fell asleep.”

Nell grabbed the wagon handle while Rosie took the stroller, and they began the walk home. They were about halfway there when Nell saw her friend, Holly approaching. Holly was also pushing a stroller, and Holly’s daughter, Annelise ran ahead of her.

“Hey, Holly,” Nell smiled, in greeting.

“Nelly, how goes it?” Holly smiled.

“I’m getting ice cream!” Rosie told Annelise.

“Me, too!” Annelise said.

The two girls began to chat and giggle together.

“I see Robbie’s asleep, too,” Nell said, peering into the stroller, “He’s getting big, isn’t he?”

“He is that,” Holly said, looking into the stroller that Nell was pushing. “He’s almost as big as Violet, and she’s got three months on him.”

“Well, she’s a peanut,” Nell said, “Rosie was bigger at this age.”

The two Moms walked along, chatting and following their daughters towards the ice cream parlor. Ernie greeted them as they all went inside to order.

“Why, it’s my favorite customer!” Ernie winked at Annelise.

“What’s he mean?” Nell asked Holly.

“Annelise spends her allowance on Barney,” Holly said.

“Who?”

“Haven’t you seen the older man who sits in the park?” Holly asked, “He has Alzheimer’s.”

“He’s my friend!” Annelise told Nell.

“Annelise has ‘adopted’ him,” Holly said. “She takes him ice cream”.

“Is it safe?” Nell whispered.

“He’s harmless, Nell,” Holly said, “They’re a really nice family, and they live in the building across from us. I try to talk to his daughter every day. She’s having a rough time of it.”

“Gosh, I can’t imagine how bad that must be,” Nell said.

“It’s hard,” Holly agreed.

Nell turned to Annelise and bent down to give her a hug.

“You are a special kid,” she told her.

“I am?” Annelise laughed.

“Yes,” Nell nodded. “I’m proud of you.”

“We are, too,” Holly smiled.

“What did she do?” Rosie asked.

“She’s nice to an old man who’s feeling lost and confused,” Nell told her daughter.

“It’s easy,” Annelise told Rosie. “Barney makes it easy.”

Nell looked at Holly and shook her head in wonder.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

N

A to Z Blog Challenge – E is for Ernie

icecream3ERNIE

Ernie Stevens had owned the ice cream parlor on Market Street for over 20 years now. He had built the business from the ground up. He had taken what had been the old dry goods store and turned it into a place where families and small children came for an ice cream cone. His father had scoffed at the idea when he asked him what he thought about buying the store. He wished the old man was alive to see it now.

Ernie looked proudly at the glass display case and the vats of ice cream and the counter with the soda and milkshake machines. Small tables and chairs covered the floor area in front of the counter. Ernie had laid that linoleum floor himself. It was a far cry from the dingy old dry goods store with its wooden floor and wooden shelves.

The bell over the door jingled as the door opened, and Ernie turned to greet his first customer of the day. It was a Saturday so it was sure to be busy.

“Look, Mommy!” Annelise cried out, as she ran in before her Mom who was pushing a stroller with the baby inside. Annelise’s Dad, who had been holding the door, followed behind. “They have chocolate, Mommy!”

“I think Mr. Stevens always has chocolate,” her Mom smiled, “Hello, Mr. Stevens!”

“Hello, and how are you on this beautiful day?” Ernie smiled back.

“We are well,” Annelise’s Mom said, “Robbie slept through the night last night so we are all feeling great!”

“Such a handsome young man,” Ernie said, as he came around the counter and squatted down beside the carriage to admire the baby, “Hello, slugger!”

Robbie kicked his feet and gurgled in response.

“I’m afraid that’s the best you’re going to get out of him,” Robbie’s Dad said, “Strong, silent type.”

Ernie chuckled and stood to go back behind the counter. “What can I get you folks?”

After they’d ordered their ice cream, Annelise’s Mom stayed to talk to Ernie for a moment.

“Does Annelise come in here often by herself?” she asked.

“Maybe a couple of times a week,” Ernie said, “I keep an eye on her. She usually buys a cone and then leaves.”

“She’s been taking the ice cream to an old man in the park.”

“Barney,” Ernie guessed, “Nice old man. Shame about the Alzheimer’s.”

“Yes,” Annelise’s Mom agreed, “I met him and his daughter the other day.”

“They are a nice family,” Ernie said, “Her husband, David, drives a city bus. I’ve known them for years. Barney used to run the hardware store before he retired several years ago.”

“Annelise sure seems to enjoy his company.”

“He was good with the kids and always had time to help out with repairing bicycle tires or just listening when the kids needed someone to talk to,” Ernie said. “I think even with the Alzheimer’s that he misses the company of the little kids.”

He excused himself and turned to go help the next customer as the bell above the door jangled again. He could see two more families crossing the street and heading his way. Yes, it was going to be a busy day.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

E

Fifty-Six

This is what fifty-six looks like. It’s actually not much different than what fifty-five looked like yesterday. Although this is fifty-six first thing in the morning. Unadorned. Unmade up. Unconscious. This is what I asked for – to sleep in, and I got it – after a fashion.

fifty-sixYes, I got up at 6:00 to feed the cat and give him his insulin. Yes, I made my younger son’s lunch and hugged him before he left. I also opened my first birthday present (from him). Then I went back to bed. Yes, I woke up to answer my older son’s birthday text. Then I went back to sleep. Yes, I woke up to answer my hubby’s text, saying he was on his way home. That was two hours ago so I’m not sure where he disappeared to. He’ll turn up soon.

Fifty-six sticks in my head because I remember learning my multiplication tables when I was in elementary school. For some reason 8 x 7 was a hard one for me. To help me remember the answer, I recall my mother using a rhyme. She said, “My dog, Fido can do tricks. Eight times seven is 56.” Yes, that silly rhyme has stuck with me almost 50 years later. ‘Do tricks’ indeed.

Fifty-six marks another milestone for me – a sad one. My Father died when I was 28. This year he will have been gone for 28 years. He’s been gone half of my life now. It doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. Time does march on.

Time was simpler when I came along. I was born in 1959 so I just made the 1950’s decade. Life itself was simpler back then. We shopped at the Five and Dime – either Woolworth’s, Kresge’s or Neisner’s. We could buy clothes, housewares, linens, tropical fish, plants, candy and more. When we tired of shopping, we grabbed a stool at the lunch counter (in the same store) and had a sandwich, a float, an ice cream sundae or a milkshake. A big weekday outing (before school) was the bank, the post office or the grocery store. We spent time at the library, and we borrowed books. There was no such thing as computers, the internet or downloading. My Mother was my idol, and I aspired to someday be just like her. In my child’s mind, women did not work. My Aunt worked, but that was because she was divorced. I thought when I grew up, I’d marry and be a housewife. That was all I ever wanted. TV was Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, and the Wonderful World of Disney – all usually watched at Gramma and Grandpa’s house – either a Friday evening or a Sunday evening. We usually spent those nights at Gramma’s house. TV at my house was shows my Dad enjoyed – Combat or Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. If you didn’t like what was being watched, you went and played in your room, or you read a book. Kids didn’t control the entertainment. My Mom sat up late watching the Johnny Carson Show. When I had time off from school, it was a special treat to sit up late with her and watch the old comedians or actors and actresses that Johnny was interviewing. Vacations were family camping trips – usually centered on a body of water where Grandpa and Dad could go out fishing in Grandpa’s boat. We kids usually spent our vacations running up and down, getting bitten by mosquitoes and sun burned. We usually never went any farther away than the Thousand Islands. I never went to Disneyland or Disneyworld, and I never wanted to.

Fifty-six. I’ve been married for most of my adult life, and I’m also fast approaching the point in time where I can say I have been married as long as I was single. Being single wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I had lots of fun with my cousins, but once everyone started going their separate ways, being single was lonely at times. Being married and sharing my life and love with my best friend is much better than single ever was. It completes me to know that someone has my back and understands me like he does. We don’t see each other as often as I’d like since he started driving a truck, but hearing his voice on the phone makes my day every day. Saying “I love you” is very important to both of us. I also am blessed to know the joy of motherhood, having experienced the miracle of birth twice. I am Mom to two fantastic young men who I am also thrilled to call good “friends” as well as my children. They are polite, funny and kind, and I am proud to call them mine.

Fifty-six is a day for celebrating. I always take my birthday off from work. Do I ever do anything exciting? Occasionally. Even if I never leave the house, it’s a day to reflect, regroup and recharge. Have I stuck with the New Year’s resolutions I made a month ago? Nope. Do I hope to get back to them? Of course I do. Am I happy where I am in life? Very much so. Was I thrilled to see all the birthday messages and greetings waiting for me in my email in-boxes when I woke up today? Most definitely so. I am blessed to have friends and family, near and far. Thank you, everyone. You made this fifty-six year old’s day just a little bit brighter and a little bit happier.

Life Experiences

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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).

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  1. 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. babies
  1. 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.

spirit5.  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.

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  1. 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.

mom-dadWhen 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.

mom-dadflorack7.  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.

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  1. 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.