Archive for April 2014

The Waltons and a Clothesline

It was Good Friday, a mild spring day.  The wind whistled in from the partially opened bedroom windows swishing everything to the floor not weighted down.  I didn’t mind.  This would be one of the few days to enjoy fresh air before we thrust the thermostat into air conditioning mode – one of the disadvantages of the Midwest – hot, humid summers that usually debut a month early.

Days like this remind me of Aunt Lizzie and my childhood long ago.  She didn’t seem to need air conditioning as the breeze blew in and out of windows in her small country home.  The breeze helped dry clothes, sheets, and towels on the clothesline. It was all about family in those days – moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins – being with each other and helping each other, very much like The Waltons.

I raised my sons in a world full of modern conveniences – air conditioning, microwave, and  a clothes dryer, to name a few – but still cherished family traditions.  We stayed home Thanksgiving and Christmas days for our own individual family tradition but made extended-family time on the weekend.  Every Easter, provided no one was sick, we traveled to my mother’s.  (Grandpa passed away way too soon.)  We colored and decorated eggs on Saturday (not my favorite thing, but I endured for their sake and their cousins’) while a friend styled Grandma’s hair for Sunday services.  After church on Sunday, we shared a family dinner then launched a marathon Easter egg hunt, over and over and over, sunshine or clouds, in Grandma’s spacious yard that still displayed a clothesline.

I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to hang clothes on a line over the years and watch all my concerns blow away.  More that anything, I just wanted a close-knit family like I had growing up – like The Waltons.  I wanted to pass on those special traditions.  I wanted my boys to want it too – like this songGrandpa.  Remember that?

But the world changed – Nintendo, Xbox, boomboxes and cassettes to CDs and IPods; Gameboys and desktops to laptops to IPads; a telephone in every room to large cell phones, then small cell phones, and then one for every member of the family.  I couldn’t stop progress and couldn’t force the desire for these simple things – family gatherings, listening to the crickets and June bugs, catching lightening bugs,  sitting under a shade tree on a summer day when your SUV breaks down in the middle of Iowa, and eating Grandma’s chicken and dumplings.

This Easter, they have their own lives.  I made the trip to Grandma’s without them and without asking.  After all, they are grown and live in different cities.  I looked for a clothesline along the way.  It was a lovely day with redbuds and daffodils in bloom,  but I didn’t see a clothesline.  I enjoyed a few hours with my mother and sisters, didn’t have to color Easter eggs, and watched the beautiful sunset on the drive home.

When I shut off the lights that evening to end the day, I didn’t hear “Goodnight John Boy!” Instead, the stillness reminded me of my empty nest. The breeze gently rippled the blinds.  But then …

One of my sons called, and I smiled. “Mom, could you please send me your coffee cake recipe?”

Someday I will put up that clothesline to watch my worries blow away, smell the freshness of the sheets from the open air and sunshine, and remember those good old days.  And a hundred years from now when I am celebrating in glory, my yet-to-be grandchildren will boast about the best coffee cake in the whole world … the one that Grandma made.



There was a small window above the bed.  Two panes latched in the middle and opened out into the room.  I stood on the bed to open the window and allow the gentle breeze to cool the room.  I gazed out at the stars and wished for little-girl things, magical things – to be a princess, marry prince charming, live in a castle, wear long flowy dresses, and dance.  I don’t recall annoying bugs coming through the window, although there was no screen.  By dawn, I pulled the blanket draped at the foot of the bed all the way up to my chin.  The thermometer might have soared during daylight from the bright southern California sun, but we never went out in the evening without a sweater.

On clear days, I could see the snowcapped mountaintops through the larger dining room windows.  I wished for the snow to come down from the mountain, but it never did.  On Sunday evenings, I watched my favorite show, The Wonderful World of Color and drifted into that wonderful, magical world.   Tinkerbell sprinkled her fairy dust to set the tone for the evening show.  At the end, I thought how marvelous it would be to go to Disneyland.  After all, we weren’t that far away.  But POP (Pacific Ocean Park) was much closer, less expensive, and fit our conservative budget.

We moved away when I was nine years old without ever going to Disneyland, and Mr. Disney died just one year later.  But his spirit lived on.

This past week, I watched Saving Mr. Banks and remembered the magical wishes and feelings of long ago.  I appreciated learning the real story behind Mary Poppins and making the movie.  I wished I sounded beautiful when I sang along.  Movies like this and Secretariat warm my heart – true-life stories – wholesome, goodness, and hope.  And in case you’re wondering, yes, I loved Pollyanna too.

All of those created characters and animated movies, too many to mention, have etched our hearts and our children’s.  During my childbearing years, I decorated the nursery with a Disney theme – Mickey and Minnie, Goofey, Donald Duck – bright, bold colors and wished and prayed for my babies and the lives ahead of them.

In more recent years, I have accumulated a rather large collection of Jim Brickman CDs to choose from.  But if I need a little spring in my step, a little cheering up, I put in his Disney tribute, The Disney Songbook.  Before I know it, I’m **trying** to sing and dancing right along with those penguins and Dick Van Dyke.

I’m not sure if being intrigued with magical fairy tales ignited my faith and belief in real-life miracles or vice versa.  It doesn’t matter, the feelings are similar and I choose to believe and hope.  Sometimes life deals out sorrow and misfortune in bucket fulls.  I, for one, wish that the spirit of Mr. Disney lives on forever, that someone picks up the torch and continues to run with hope, laughter, singing, dancing, dreaming, and magical times so that we can ride along for a while too.

Who knows, maybe someday I will actually get to Disneyland back in sunny California.  When you wish upon a star …