Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Loyola Writing Retreat - Day 2: Writing to Remember

Here is my assignment for Day #2 : Writing to Remember. I could have written about a lot of painful memories, but I chose a happy one. There's enough pain in the world. 

It’s dark outside and it feels late, but it is winter, near the solstice when the days are shortest, and it is actually only late afternoon. I’m a little girl - three, on the cusp of four - in the living room of the small ranch home where I grew up.

Christmas is right around the corner and I’m brimming with excitement. The Christmas tree is on the other side of the room, against the faux brick wall with the bricks that periodically fell off, requiring my father to reattach them with rubber cement. There are presents already wrapped and under the tree, waiting to be opened. Even that young, I know there is no Santa. My parents give me my gifts. I still look forward to them and enjoy shaking them, eager to figure out what they are. 

I’m sitting next to the orange-brown couch, circa 1960s, no doubt purchased when my parents were newlyweds. It is a concept hard for me, even as an adult, to imagine. Born when my parents were in their thirties, I somehow always thought of them as old. At the time of this memory, my father is turning thirty-eight and my mother is thirty-six, both younger than I am now. 

I sit on a stool in front of a stand-up organ keyboard which leans against the wall. Above it is the shutters for my sister’s bedroom, put there when the dining room was converted to a room for her so that she and I could each have our own room. She is ten years older than I and needed her privacy. At this age, she is my hero and I want to be just like her. She sits nearby with her guitar. I’m looking up at my mother, who seems to tower over me. 

My sister is part of the folk group at Church. She practices often and I sing with her, songs that would make traditional Catholics of today cringe, but brought my family such joy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The group has asked me to sing with them at Christmas Eve Mass. What an honor! I get to sing with my big sister, way up in the choir loft in the back of the gigantic church. How exciting! 

We are practicing – my mother, sister and I. I sing my heart out. I think I have a beautiful voice. The world has yet to tell me different. In retrospect, it was the voice of innocence. I can still hear the music:

All night, all day, angels watching over me, My Lord.
All night, all day, angels watching over me.
Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
All night, all day, angels watching over me.

We practice over and over, my sister strumming her guitar, my mother singing along with me, until the headlights of my father’s car pull into the driveway. He is home from work. It’s time to put the music away and get ready for supper. We’ll practice more tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. That is a really beautiful memory, I'm glad you chose a happy time to remember.