At the front of my Grandma’s house was a secret room. There was no way in. No door. A huge shrub hugged the only outside window to the room. My eight year old self was curious. ” Why is there a room you can’t use?” To me it was the stuff mysteries were made of. Was there a hidden treasure inside, stolen property being hidden from the authorities? Had there been a crime committed in that room and the evidence boarded up? My imagination ran wild and I would often make up stories about the secret room. I kept asking questions. Finally, my mom explained that when the house was remodeled, they just closed it off because they didn’t need it anymore. I didn’t believe it for a minute. A few times I tried to squeeze between the shrub and the grimy aperture, but I was too short to peer inside. I was confident there was a story behind that dusty glass. There were other things regarding my grandparents that were secretive; events not discussed,things hushed so children would not know. My grandparents lost a child to a childhood disease. She was just a toddler. Years later a son was killed in a car accident shortly after returning home from the Korean War. After the accident, my grandmother was gone for a while. Even her absence was not spoken about when I was around. A nervous breakdown. A mental illness. Shock treatments. Comments overheard, but never explained. Together, the questions in my mind made the secret room all the more enticing. My conclusion was romantic and tender. I was convinced that all the painful memories from the sadness in my grandparent’s lives were boxed up and stored in that room. Baby clothes and blankets, a teddy bear, a ribbon from her hair, maybe even a lock of hair. Many years have passed. My grandparent’s house shelters another family now. There is no one left to ask about the secret room.
The last thing she saw was the colorful, wispy decorations gently swaying in the breeze. When she awoke, it was dark. She felt around in the dark for her purse, but found dry, itchy, straw. The smells were familiar and yet different. Animals. Leather. Grain. She closed her eyes hoping that when she opened them again, she would be in a familiar place. Sounds of fluttering from above; then dust made her sneeze. She tried to sit up, but her head hurt so badly she lay back down hearing nothing now but the crackling of straw under her aching head.
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Broken bricks, cracked plaster, roof, all but gone. I have passed this one room school-house hundreds of times in my life. I have watched it fall apart and wondered about the days that it was filled with children’s voices and dreams. In this rural part of our state, there are many old schoolhouses still standing. Several have been converted to homes. Some became storage for farm equipment. A few moved and converted to museums. Many were torn down. What is must have been like! I taught as many as thirty children in one elementary classroom before, but they were all the same age. I’ve read stories about how the older students would help the younger students with their lessons. Lessons that go beyond reading and arithmetic were taught in these old structures. Old school.
A day or two ago, I deactivated my Facebook account. Which means those of you who follow me on Facebook are not reading this!
My reasons were two. In recent weeks, I started to notice a lot of traffic on my Facebook page. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but most of the names I did not recognize. They were usually friends of friends, but I had not changed any of my settings so I wasn’t sure why this was happening. It was a bit worrisome and I didn’t have time to research what was happening. I have always been a little freaked out to see how Facebook tracks the places I have visited on my computer, and then posts appropriate advertising to lure me even further… but that’s another story… Anyway, I have been a bit overwhelmed lately with family issues and projects I need to finish. It seemed like a good time to take a break and focus on other things. Which leads me to the second reason. I work on the computer – a lot. Whether I am blogging, emailing for business and pleasure, or working on my memoir, the lure of Facebook was just too close at hand. I could easily just stop by to see what everyone had to say. Before I knew it 30 minutes had passed and my work was not getting done! It was just too much of a distraction.
I have to confess… I do miss it. But I am accomplishing something today. We’ll see how long it lasts. I will let you know how it works out.
“Overture…. Curtain! Lights! This is it, the Night of Nights!” Bugs dragged himself out of his dressing room. How many more times did they expect him to perform this stupid number? Damn Pepe Le Pew, everyone knew he was really from Stinkin Bay, Arkansas, him and his fake accent. And wouldn’t you think Warner Brothers could afford a speech therapist for Elmer and that stupid little bird? If I have to listen to one more rant from that arrogant rooster, I swear, I say, I swear we’ll have chicken sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. Or maybe Peking Duck . Mel! Check our contract!
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Clothes. As I hung up the phone I scribbled down a list of what I needed to bring with me. My head was spinning out of synch with the rest of my body.
Of course. A set of clothes. I squinted as the tears fell onto the phone message pad. What was Dad wearing when he died? My brother and I had sat with him for the better part of two days waiting for the inevitable and I couldn’t remember what he was wearing. Slowly moving upstairs to the closet in my daughter’s vacated room, I checked for the sport coat and dress pants that I had placed there over eight years ago. I managed a smile remembering how Dad’s pants had fallen to the ground when he stepped out of the car at the cemetery. My husband and I steadied him, pulled the pants up, and tightened his belt. I quickly looked around but no one seemed to notice. A few days later we giggled about Dad dropping his pants one last time for Mom.
I brought the clothes downstairs and brushed them off, then headed for the department store. A crisp white shirt on sale, and it came with a pretty blue paisley tie. Dad and Mom would approve. We seldom bought anything that wasn’t on sale. A new pair of socks, too.
There were no shoes in the boxes and bags of clothing my son had moved home from the nursing home. Dad had been in a wheelchair; unable to stand or walk for several years so most of the time he wore house slippers or thick socks, stretchy at the top to make it easy to pull over his arthritic feet with twisted toes. I quickly sent a text message to my best friend, Pat. She was a minister. She would know.
Do you need shoes in Heaven?
Dad doesn’t have any.
She quickly texted back.
No, he won’t need them. He’ll have everything he needs when he gets there.
On the day of the funeral, Dad looked calm, serene. The sport coat seemed a little big; he had lost weight in the last few weeks of his life. But he was dressed like he used to dress on Sunday mornings. Except for the shoes.
My Dad passed away March 4, 2014. He was 92 years old. We were blessed to have had him with us for so many years.
There was an old woman who wanted some shoes…..
She had so many bunions, she didn’t know what to choose
She searched high and at Lowes
Online and in stores
But the ones that she found… scrunched all her toes!
My feet have always been difficult, and the older I get, the more difficult they get. I was blessed with thunder thighs, ample ankles, wide feet, and short stubby toes. In fact, on the back of one of my senior pictures, a friend wrote: “to the girl with the Fred Flintstone Feet. Good luck in the future.” She should have added: “Good luck in the future ever finding a pair of shoes that are not only comfortable but attractive.” There was a reason Fred Flintstone went barefoot.
In high school, I had to wear orthopedic nurse’s shoes with my marching band uniform. They must have weighed 20 pounds each. All the other girls wore their light-weight little Keds. I am not sure how I ever made it to the 50 yard line during the half time show. My shoes gave new meaning to “dragging your feet.”
Because my feet were wide, my choices were limited. (Remember, it was the 60’s and Twiggy was all the rage with her little bird feet and Tiny Tears toes. ) There was nothing fashionable for a sturdy girl like me. Unfortunately, we still were required to wear dresses or skirts to school. So hiding your shoes under an extra long pair of pants was not an option. Mini-skirts? Think about it. Thunder thighs, thick ankles, and Fred Flintstone Feet at the bottom of a mini-skirt. I shudder.
To make matters worse, I was short-waisted and short-legged. It seemed no matter what I wore, I ended up looking like… a box. A square box. A shoe box containing orthopedic shoes.
Summer time was a bit better. There were always flip-flops (or thongs as we called them; yes, please do not go there). There were also strappy buckle sandals that could be adjusted to fit less than perfect feet. But there was no Endless Summer and eventually the reality of school shoes stomped all over my shopping plans. It was difficult.
Wide shoes back then were more expensive, which made my mother unhappy. Wide shoes were unattractive, which made me unhappy. Wide shoes were only available in select shoe stores, which made my dad unhappy driving us all over “Kingdom Come” as he used to say.
And now, the affliction of my youth follows me into old age. On the positive side, there are definitely more styles and sizes available nowadays. During the Earth Shoe era, I was in heaven! Likewise with granny dresses and maxi skirts Today there are more colors and styles available for older, wider feet. And there are actual catalogs dedicated to foot pain, crooked toes, wide widths, arthritic toes, and diabetic socks.
On the negative side, I cannot wear heels of any kind , because the forward pressure on my poor toes makes walking unbearable. Flats with dresses make me look “frumpy”. My thunder thighs and thick ankles have expanded; that’s all I ‘m gonna say about that. The only good thing about this entire shoe issue is that now I shop for comfort and I can usually find it, and I am retired so wearing a dress only rears its ugly feet occasionally. I did keep a pair of pumps with one inch heels which I can wear if necessary. I just know to cancel any plans for the next day, because I will be home soaking my Flintoes.