I wrote this after reading a letter from another reader to Paul Harvey…I wish I could find the original letter (see below at end…I did find the original!). Anyway, it was all about family and it’s here to share…
I can’t answer for any of those unfortunate enough not to be born into my family, but as for me:
Being the firstborn grandchild on both sides of the family, I never wore hand-me-downs, but I wore homemade clothes. Homemade ice cream and homegrown watermelon in the summertime were at least every other weekend occurrences at Mama Nan and Papa’s. And my mother’s meatloaf made great leftover sandwiches.
Does driving my grandfather’s riding mower count? And as for the new car at sixteen…I was offered an older car and because it wasn’t cool enough or new enough, I turned my nose up at it. Needless to say, I continued to drive the family station wagon for several more years.
I didn’t have my own bedroom until after college when I got my own apartment. After sharing a room with my younger sister (and holding her hand in the dark from the top bunk) and college roommates, I truly appreciated my own room instead of taking it for granted. Little sister tagged along everywhere, and I don’t ever remember really disliking it. I may have complained a few times, but she was pretty cool (especially when she got older) to have around. On rainy days (and every other day) I drove to school myself with Mom beside me because 1– she worked at the high school and 2 — I got my license 3 years before she did!
Jane and I dug in the dirt so much we had mud pies down to a science (the best were made with good old red clay and had acorn caps on top as decoration!) and reading books is as much a part of me as going to sleep at night. My library card has been in use since 1969! I never used a calculator (much less a computer) in school until I got to college.
My first crush lived next door to my aunt and to this day he’s good looking (with gorgeous blue eyes). I never tasted Ivory soap, but I knew exactly where the hickory switch bush was and walked that path many times to pick my own. I got many skint knees playing in the branch (creek for those of you not from the South) and climbing in the old barns at home. Fingers burnt on the stove got smeared with butter, although now we know that’s not a good thing. Then it seemed to feel great though because Mom made it all better. I never stuck my tongue to a frozen flagpole, but I did get scolded many times for eating the frosty buildup in the freezer (before we had a self-defrosting one) because it would make you sick or something.
I have to admit I didn’t like beer the first time I tried it, which was in college. I still drink it, but have learned to drink it because I like it and not to get drunk. As for drugs, I suppose I am one of the lucky ones. I never even smelled marijuana until I was in college, and I certainly didn’t try it. Cigarettes held more fascination for me in high school, but only for a short time. We would sneak some when I drove my sister to baton lessons, and I swear….I NEVER inhaled!
I wish I could still sit with my Papa and Mama Nan. It would be a better world if there were more grandparents left like them. One of the luckiest parts of my life was having these two as grandparents. I miss them terribly to this day and consider myself the luckiest grandchild since I was the oldest and got to be with them the longest. I never fished with an uncle, but I have tailgated with one many times (he’s the consummate griller!) and even target practiced with another. Aunts are special too, and trips to Gatlinburg or to Rock Hill to see my grandmother in the nursing home hold special memories. Aunt Beth will soon have a granddaughter of her own to spoil, but I hope she never forgets whom she got to spoil first! She will always be my one and only favorite aunt.
Funerals were hard for me after seeing my grandfather at 3 when he died, but I have come to terms with people dying and handle it better now. As for joy at the holidays, there was nothing better then Christmas with Mama Nan and Papa. All the girls in the kitchen fixing fruit salad and all the guys in the den watching TV and wandering into the kitchen for a quick bite of something before being chased away. I don’t remember a plaster mold of my hand for Mom, but I do remember this little Christmas ornament made from plaster of Paris with my picture glued to the front.
For those of you who read this I wish you good memories too…if you’re in my family, I hope it brings back these memories for a while and brings a smile to your face.
I love you all!
Paul Harvey writes: We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse. For my grandchildren, I’d like better.
~I’d really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.
~I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated.
~I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen.
~It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.
~I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.
~I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother/sister. And it’s all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he’s scared, I hope you let him.
~When you want to see a movie and your little brother/sister wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him/her.
~I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.
~On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don’t ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won’t be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.
~If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one.
~I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books.
~When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.
~I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a boy\girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what Ivory soap tastes like.
~May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole.
~I don’t care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don’t like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.
~I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandma/Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle.
~May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.
~I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Hannukah/Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.
These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it’s the only way to appreciate life.