Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I have a child's brown leather sandal in my house and no, it does not belong to Ruby.  It is probably at least 15 years old and maybe 25 years if it belongs to Ben or Adam.  It looks like about a child's size two or three.  I need to throw it away because it is warped and weathered and obviously belongs in the trash.  Except...when I saw it laying on the freshly mowed grass in the back yard, I teared up.  I can't  throw it away just yet because it is the last clothing article of my kids' childhoods.  Of course I questioned Jerry about this sandal and was not at all surprised to know that it had flown out of the bushes as he mowed the back yard.  So there I stood that end of summer day and held that little sandal turning it over in my hands as a flood of memories filled my mind.  The image was so clear of  of my former little children  sitting on the back step with popsicles in their mouths , and their little feet enclosed in salt water sandals.

Those salt water sandals were a ritual for me and for a few of my friends.  We would head to Fred Meyer in the early spring to buy these great sandals that never broke and never wore out.  They came in all colors and you could pair them on Sundays with a dress or shorts for the boys.  Oh my gosh!!...they looked so cute paired with the little shortalls from Osh Kosh.  Because they never wore out, I could keep them for all the brothers and sisters in our household.  I suppose they were comfortable; no one ever complained.  I did see an older woman with them once and asked her how they felt.  She didn't gush about them as I was prone to do, but told me they felt pretty good.... I looked them up and they are a little more expensive than a few years ago!

I suppose I can confess that our bushes are like a time capsule.  We seriously have found so many things from the past.  Jerry dug up the fitzer bushes (spelling? ) in the front yard about five years ago, and boy, did we find treasures from long ago.  My friend SueAnn used to make fun of us because those bushes always had something sitting on top of them.  Toys, Bikes, lunch dishes....(no, seriously)  The kids would run around and invariably toss toys and garbage on those ugly bushes.

 A lot of people in our neighborhood  had those bushes, and they were all the rage back in the seventies, but they harbored spiders and other creatures.  Nothing lasts forever and those bushes were dry and patchy.  We don't normally like big projects and try to stay away from anything that is time consuming or  too much work, but those bushes had to go.  Many people advised us how to do it.  Most of them recommended tying ropes around the roots and pulling them out with a truck.  Strangers would stop and offer suggestions.  We don't own a truck, and we do have a railroad retaining wall.  We were a little afraid that the wall  would go down and we would have an even bigger mess.  Jerry decided that he would dig out each stump by hand.  People!!....we are not talking about two or three stumps.   He estimates there were about forty.  Just when he thought he was done, he would find another one.  He took a pickax, shovel and  would dig away until he got to the root  and  then  used his bare hands.  I don't know if anyone has seen Jerry's hands, but they are big.  Not a little big, but really, really huge!! We have never found gloves to fit him.  Day by day, he would muck around in the dirt and with sweat pouring down his face dig away at those nasty roots.   We had to cut all the folliage off first, (if you can call that prickly , bug infested stuff folliage) and then he dug down  to the roots.  They were monstrous things with gnarly sharp appendages, and as he released each one from the dirt, he would victoriously hold it aloft it a toss onto the sidewalk below.   Some of the nastier roots took days, and he was, indeed, a man possessed.  It took him the better part of the summer to get them all out.  Where was I you might ask?  Jerry seemed happy enough, and was so into his work , that I puttered around the house, went shopping and out to lunch and left him to it.  I believe I gained weight that summer while he actually lost it from all his efforts.   As the bushes disappeared, many momentos from the past begin to again reappear.  We found Ghostbuster men, the Star Trek Enterprise, and many other once beloved toys.  There was also liquor bottles,  cigarette packages and a man's wallet containing a driver's license that expired twenty five years ago(:
cute kids, ugly bushes  (pretty sure the girls have on the sandals)

As Fall approached, the bushes and roots lay in piles.  Kind neighbors helped us gather them up and load them into a trailer for the dump.  We then hauled in some top soil and covered everything up.  Our neighbor Gary offered us a bunch of rocks from his yard, and the boys hauled them over.  Emily was dating Layne at the time and his family owned a rock quarry.  He hauled a few down, and placed a few really heavy ones to prove his manliness to Emily. Everything I do is pretty much random, and the word strategy is not in my vernacular.  Everyone placed them wherever they deemed appropriate , and it was okay with me.  I bought plants on sale, perenials and annuals and planted them without too much  thought.  I could only think "tall and short" and lots of color.....  The garden reflected my personality...messy,   but colorful and I loved it!  Each spring I would seek out new plants and some came out the next year while others did not.  I learned which ones liked a certain soil, and where they liked to be placed.  It has been a great joy to me to sift through the soil, to cut and prune and plant. I am completely alone (unless friends drop by) and my thoughts do not plague me as they sometimes do when I am involved in other things.

I have repeatedly told everyone I hated those bushes, and how happy I was with my flowers.  Yet...when that little sandal appeared from the still-ugly bushes in the back, I was transported back to the years when my children were small.  I could shut my eyes and still smell the heady scent of childhood.  Oh, I missed those years, and the little guys who wore those sandals.  I missed holding their warm little bodies as I served and loved them.   I remember well putting those sandals on and picking out matching clothes and preparing for the day.

Now...I am preparing for  four big kids to come home.   I have not seen those kids for almost two years and I miss them as much or more than the little babies they were....and so excited, yet melancholy for the passage of time.
I have not held these four  in my arms for awhile, but they have my heart
 The mirror tells me that I am getting older.  I do not like it one little bit.  I was teaching the vocabulary word "wrinkled" to the kids at school and told them I had wrinkles on my face and around my eyes.  One little boy nodded wisely, and replied, "because you're getting old!" Yup, pretty much, I am....and now I tell everyone not to wish the years away.  Not babyhood, toddlerhood..nor even the teen years!!  I remember just wanting the kids to be able to open doors by themselves and now they are having babies of their own!  Thank goodness I have Ruby to hold in my arms,  smell the sweetness of her hair, and think about ordering her some salt water sandals next summer.  Grandkids are, indeed, the best and I am excited to welcome another one next March!!!
Grandma and Ruby
 I know  that all stages of life have their joy , and I need to embrace the one I am in right now.  Just as my garden continues to replenish itself every year with brilliant colors, the tapestry of my life continues with so many different threads.  So very grateful for my many experiences.....
The walk with your child is for a lifetime
and needing to remember that although my life has a few weeds as does my garden, I am still able to enjoy its beauty.
Much prettier then the bushes!!

Families are forever