Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Letters from the past

I found a letter today…well, ok, not today…the pile of mail had been sitting where I dumped it on the side table almost a week ago. In any case, this envelope looked out of place with its grayish-yellow paper and what looked to be smudged pencil lettering on it. But it was addressed to me, Anita Spenser, and the return address almost completely ineligible due to the water stains, though the name of Bob Su-- and the US—below it were clear enough to see. Well, this was a puzzle to be sure….Da’s name was not Bob or Robert either, nor was it his father’s name, so…who was Bob ??

It seems I must give you a little history for this to make sense. I moved back to my childhood home after my divorce and re-took my maiden name of Spenser. Ma was in and out of hospitals with an illness that Da would never name (I suspect it may have been a type of cancer), so I mostly helped Da around the house and farm. When Ma passed on, it soon became evident that Da was floundering without her companionship, and his mental capacities faded more and more each day. When he finally passed as well, with a smile on his face no less, saying simply “I’m coming Midge, just wait up for me”, I knew he was going to a happier place. So, my parents house was now mine. I remember as a child coming here and playing in the fields near the barn…this was Gran’s house. I was always her favorite, you see, and she let me get away with many an escapade that none of my friends could lay a claim to…One year for my birthday, she gave me a small key, telling me it was something very precious to her, and that someday I would need that key so I should hold it very dear to me as well. That seemed out of character for Gran to say something like that, but as a child I didn’t think much further than the words themselves and the fact that she gave me something she so obviously prized….in hindsight it did seem that there were days when Gran seemed almost sad and introspective about something she was thinking on or remembering, but the child saw only the bright sunny day and the breeze making the hay wave across the fields and just had to go out and play…..

Anyway, the faded letter brought all the childhood memories back….what would I find inside the envelope, I wondered…something mundane or exciting? Was this a long-lost relative who went to war, or something more simplistic like Grampy couldn’t write and so a friend of his wrote for him? I steeled myself for what I would find, and slowly slid the envelope open.

A single sheet of folded paper lay within, with only a few lines looking like they had been written in a hurry. “Dearest Ani” it began, “How do I tell you how excited and pleased I am with your news? To know that our love has created something amazing…my joy knows no bounds! I cant’t wait to get home and put my ring on your hand…”

What ? ! Gran was pregnant? And not married! Wow!...that was never anything Da said a word about, nor Gran ever mention either.

So, what to do? I sat there, lost in thought for some time, wondering about this babe …was it possible that Gran had another child before Da, one who’s existence or any information about, may be stashed somewhere in this house? After all, she grew up in this house, there had to be some of her things that were never gotten rid of, couldn’t there? …Perhaps in the basement? No, those were Da’s boxes that I had moved to the cellar after he passed, and I did not remember seeing anything about Gran in them…..

Perhaps the attic then?...I hadn’t gotten very far in exploring that area yet, and memories of Gran telling me that was NOT a playground and I needed to stay out of it….could she have been hiding something there, something she did not want anyone to see? Did I want to resurrect old ghosts and secrets?

With this in mind, and no small amount of trepidation, I headed for the attic pull-stairs. After bodily shoving the door flap upward (and sending it flying into a pocket of dust that almost had me falling off my perch when I started sneezing and coughing), I shined the flashlight around and above the opening. Jackpot! There was a cord hanging there that when pulled, dimly illuminated various shrouded forms and piles of boxes, an old rocking horse with the broken leg that I remembered playing with as a child, Ma’s polished mirror that used to grace her room until she lost all her hair the last time she was so sick, and faintly at the far end some light was coming in from an attic window….Well, that single light bulb and this flashlight were not going to be enough.

Back down I headed to find an additional light source. Once I had this, I returned to the attic once more to begin my exploration. It was going to be a long process, as each ‘form’ had to be uncovered to be examined. What wonderful treasures and surprises there were …an old coat tree intricately carved with delicate vines and what I believed to be a tail of something that began at the floor and wound their way up to the top where an impressive dragon head with mirrored eyes appeared. An old steamer trunk with Da’s initials carved into it, which when opened revealed packets of letters carefully tied together, which upon inspection revealed themselves to be love letters between he and Ma when they were courting – I’ll have to come back to those at a later date. Several pieces of furniture: straight backed chairs from Gran’s parlor, a trundle bed I remembered using as a child, and oddly enough, a church pew. Boxes with assorted dishes and glassware, knick knacks that hadn’t seen the light of day in my lifetime, newspapers about the Depression and the War….. Obviously some of it would need to be disposed of, such as the very much moth-eaten and mouse-homed stuffed chair and blankets, but much that was not. Slowly I worked my way along one wall to the window. It was at this point that I realized that there were several boxes shoved far back under the eaves almost hiding behind other things – perhaps Gran hadn’t wanted those to be found and so had tucked them away behind everything else.

I went after the bottommost and furthest back…..stood to reason if Gran didn’t want anyone finding it by accident, it would be covered up/buried under something. The old box appeared to be what may have once been a hat box, octagonal in shape, with a faded cabbage rose print now gone to tan. It opened easily enough, with a slightly cracked paper sound. Oh my, sitting on the very top were hair ribbons and a military dog-tag, along with a picture of a young smiling couple who appeared to be very much in love. The girl’s face was my own when I looked in the mirror so obviously had to be Gran; the boy’s was unknown, certainly looked nothing at all like Da….I examined the tags….Sutt, Robert I is what it said. So there it was, the name of Gran’s beau. Below that, an old military formal-type envelope addressed to Gran, one that appeared to have gotten wet and/or crinkled up at some point in its life…I started to read the single-page form letter it contained…”..regret to inform you of the death of Sgt. Sutt…..”

So there it was…the reason this all hidden away, he no longer walked among the living and she wanted no reminders.…I looked further into her box and found her diary – tightly packed pages with folded papers pressed within its pages, but it was locked. Below that, an envelope from what appeared to be a Home for unwed mothers with nothing inside it….

I had found her secret, but short of destroying the diary, I would never know what it contained……I realized now that the key she had given me all those years ago HAD been to her heart, the heart she left at the home when they buried her Sergeant….the key that I had dropped down the well shaft years before… .

{the names and events noted in the above are in no way an actual re-telling of anyone’s history, merely coincidence ….}

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

..Oh to be .....

Have you ever heard the expression “..oh to be a fly on the wall..” and wondered, what if you actually were? What kinds of things would you see, or hear, or do if you actually were? Would your perception of life as you know it change because you were no longer bigger than everything around you, but instead just a tiny speck? Would you be scared of “giants” or exhilarated at the freedom of getting into tiny crevices that opened into whole new worlds? Would you be a solitary creature, or part of a group? Would you live a long satisfying life, or would you live-and-die in the space of a day?

Come with me, if you dare, and see…..

….m-u-s-t…. come …out… of.. this thing
..so dry and hot in here….and I am hungry..oh so hungry

….gotta get out, gotta go eat….oh, smell something, gotta go see, need to eat, gotta go to it, gotta go eat…zztt..there, I’m out of here

…gotta go, need to eat

…oooh, so many colors out here and they are all around me., gotta go, gotta eat, pretty white slug…..zztt…gotta eat…sspptt – slurp- yumm

gotta go, gotta see…zztt…smells like….zztt ymm

….sounds exploding, gentle vibrations of air as beasts move below me and near me….smell the heat and hot bodies, feel the moist air as the beast breathes…so hot, smells good, gotta eat….zztt…whistles in the distance with sharp yips, voices calling, tramp of feet, heat rising to me…gotta go..gotta eat…gotta see …..zzztt…brown mountain smells yumm, gotta eat…zztt

….oooh…another like me…mmm…gotta see, gotta go there…zzzt over and ..

..hey! …


s-p-P-L-A-A-T !

“Mommie…look! I squashed a bug! “

Monday, April 5, 2010

this 'n that, or, is it Spring yet ?

..well, busy couple of weeks, still writing (in my head), just never seem to be able to "immortalize" it ....such is life.

Actually made some bread this past week...how utterly satisfying to hear the soft pop of gas bubbles popping as you knead the dough, feeling the slight elastic resistance as you turn, push and pull it towards you....and how absolutely delightful to smell the wonderful aroma of fresh baked bread(s), to hear the hollow thwump on the crust telling you it is done...the fragrant air that fills the house....yumm

The past few days have been rather nice...sunny skies, warmish temps, grass turning green, yellow-gold-green buds on tree branches, "peepers" calling in the pond across the way, and birdsong filling the air...yes, an early spring for us....as much as I love the chilly temps and crunch of snow underfoot, I can do without the muddy mess that needs to be put up with before the world around me truly "goes green" ......