Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nostalgia for days gone by...

The sad thing about youth is that you don't always realize and appreciate a special moment. Then one day you grow up, look back, and you smile fondly at the memory of something you once dismissed as child's play.

The last couple of days I have been feeling very nostalgic over the past. Perhaps it is because yesterday was my grandmother's birthday and I miss her. As I have written many times before, I was blessed to have grown up living next door to my grandparents. I didn't have one home, I had two.

My grandparents' home was a large, three-story, brightly colored Victorian. The bottom floor was below street level and accessed by stairs. It was what we lovingly referred to as the "popcorn kitchen." To us, it was our playroom. It had awesome bunk beds hidden behind doors in the narrow stairwell, which opened up to a small living room. It also housed a full bedroom, bath, and kitchen---hence the name, popcorn kitchen. Care to guess how it got that name? It was where we would bring our neighborhood friends when we wanted to play or flop down and watch cartoons.

Upstairs on the main floor the most wonderful aroma of cookies would fill the air. My grandmother baked the most heavenly delights--all made to order of course! She was always sure to have your favorite on hand, at all times! The walls were covered with her beautiful paintings that she was never quite satisfied with, but I loved. Off the main kitchen was the den where I spent many days curled up with my grandmother watching spooky old black & white horror movies such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Blob. She knew I loved them. It was also our reading room where we would each snuggle up with our favorite books and read to our hearts' content. One of my favorite things was sitting down on the floor as she gently brushed my hair with such tender care and soothingly talked to me about my day.

On the very top floor were our bedrooms. Yes, I even had my own bedroom! I spent many a night there being tucked in with a bedtime story and a song to send me off to dreamland. The last ritual of the night was always my grandmother tucking me in and placing a kiss on my forehead. It didn't matter how old I got, the routine was always the same and I cherished it---even more so now.

These have been my rambling thoughts the last two days. Then this morning, I recalled a special moment with my grandfather. He was a gentle giant. At over 6' 2" he towered over my petite frame. He had a gentle spirit and doted on "his girls." One special day, when I was sixteen he brought me home a new doll. He was so excited as he handed me the gift he had bought. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I hadn't played with dolls in years and that I was more interested in dating than I was pseudo Barbie dolls. However, as I looked at his face there was such a genuine show of love that I found myself sitting down on the floor and opening the box that contained my new Tiffany Taylor doll. To this day I have no idea where he found her. She was produced in 1973, but he had handed this pristine doll in a new unopened box and sat down in his chair to watch me play--and play I did--for hours. I made her hair turn from blonde to black and back again. I walked her around the floor and made up little stories that she acted out. At the time, I was giving back to my grandfather the gift of love he had shown me. I had no idea, decades later, he was giving me his true gift:  a moment in time.

Life is full of mystery. It gives you gifts you don't always understand in the moment, but you realize their full value far into your future. Cherish these ripples in time as they quickly fade until they return to you in the form of a nostalgic memory.

Be well, be happy, and always be blessed.

~ K. Lamb

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