Wednesday, May 9, 2012
So it is surprising to me that I can recall, with tremendous detail, things that happened 50 years ago. My mind is a virtual garden of sweet days from long ago. Yesterday was such a day.
Yesterday, my sister Linda turned 56. Naturally, I had forgotten her birthday. I was reminded when I checked into Facebook and saw all the birthday greetings littering her page.
It was hard to imagine that Linda, Linda the popular, Linda the boy magnet, Linda the wild child, was 56. But she was - and it offered another excuse to take that familiar trip to the past. The vivid, technicolor past, the 50-year-old-past that seems so close I can almost touch it.
Fifty years ago yesterday, the photo above was taken. That is Linda (on the right) and me with my beloved "Mother", our maternal grandmother. We were dressed like twins, as we often were despite our 13 month age difference (she's older, regardless of what everyone thinks) and we were celebrating her 6th birthday. We were staying with "mother" and grandpa in their apartment in Moab, Utah because my mother - in Salt Lake - was due to give birth to my sister Lisa at any moment and it was felt that having us out from under her feet would make things a little easier.
The night before her birthday I remember vehemently trying to convince everyone of the logic that Linda would have grown out of her pajamas during the night - having become a full year older. While everyone told me that it wouldn't happen, I was very disappointed the next morning when I saw that my sister looked exactly the same.
When we were little we both got birthday cakes and presents on each other's birthdays. I have no idea why. I remember being disappointed when all that suddenly ended but it was still in full swing on Linda's 6th in Moab. We both got Beanie and Cecil toy guitars. They had nylon strings that made no musical sound at all. Their primary feature was a crank handle that played the Beanie and Cecil theme music when you turned them - like a Jack-in-the Box. And we got magnets which turned out to be very cool. They picked up all the little magnetic toys over and over again and grandpa showed us how they repelled each other when Linda and I tried to put ours together. I'm certain he tried to explain the science behind it but I couldn't have cared less. Those magnets were just fun. And while we sang happy birthday to Linda, I got a cake too. Vanilla. Linda's was chocolate. We got to ice them. We wore our "special" dresses - matching white sailor dresses, with red stripes and red pom-poms. And if mom packed the frilly panties, we would have worn those too - backward - so that we could see the lace if we lifted our skirts to look. We played outside in front of the building, and that night we watched "Top Cat" before we went to bed. I remember what it felt like to be 4-almost-5 in Moab Utah. It was very pleasant. I felt loved. I felt secure. And a little homesick. And I had awareness of my existence in the world, and it felt completely unfettered and just fine.
Not an extraordinary memory, but cherished none the less. As it happened, my mother didn't deliver on time and we had to go back home to Salt Lake before Lisa was born. She came 13 days later, on the 21st. And this year she will be 50. Impossible.
In thinking about our lives since then I was washed with the shared experiences - together and apart - and wondered at the arrival of mid-life. The dreams that shaped us, some achieved, most cast aside have left us somewhat fulfilled, somewhat disappointed, but certainly wiser. We still look forward with anticipation but back with acceptance. We did - okay. And that's a good thing.
So for her birthday this year, I posted a YouTube video of the finale of Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" on her Facebook page. The song is called "Make Our Garden Grow" and it is one of my favorite pieces of music of all time. When the chorus stands to join the song, they gloriously proclaim:
"Let dreamers dream what worlds they please;
Those Edens can't be found.
The sweetest flowers, the fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground
We're neither pure, nor wise, nor good;
We do the best we know
We'll build our house, we'll chop our wood
And make our gardens grow."
Good birthday sentiment.
Posted by Valri Smith at 6:16 PM