From the beginning she knew what she would one day become. How did she know? She just did. There were no discussions, no options presented, it was just God’s plan for gingerbread girls. When the time came she would be mixed up with predetermined amounts of specific ingredients according to the recipe. There would be enough flour to make her strong, but eggs and butter to make her pliable. It was important to be very sweet so lots of sugar would be added, balanced by just enough spice to make her interesting so that she would be desired. After being thoroughly beaten she would be flattened and cut with a mold, large enough to satisfy, but small enough to be easily handled. Next, she knew that she would be tried by fire and just when she felt that she could take no more, she would be rescued . . . and . . . devoured. She would then have served her purpose.
I am trying to follow as you approach the traditional pearly gates. Your steps are small and carefully placed as you painfully make your way toward the splendor of light, white swirling clouds and music from unfamiliar instruments.
Your thin and arthritic hands grip tightly the walker, which you are holding closer than usual. Your shoulder bones show through the cotton gown and your head is not quite as erect as I am used to seeing. The white hair and the frail old body are the signs of your years and you appear as Mother Time herself.
Are you afraid? Sad? Shy? Are you remembering us and longing to return to planet earth? Would you? If you could, would you turn and hurry back this way rather than continue toward the unknown?
Do you see your sister up ahead? Are you making your way toward the arms of your mother?
Your steps are slowing now. You stop and rest as though to consider something important and I think I see the slightest turn of your shoulder, but I can’t be sure, perhaps it is only my own selfish need.
I don’t know how, but I can see your face as you continue to walk away from us. Your eyes are filled with the purest joy and I see both the delight of a little girl who knows she is special and the wonder of a mother who holds her infant daughter . . . and we have only your memory while heaven has a new matriarch.
Recently, I ran across the words above that I had written at 11:30 p.m. on January 12, 1998, immediately after the death of my dear old friend, Maggie.
As shared in an earlier post, I was born in 1943, in a four room house, on Crooked Creek Rd. in Anderson County, KY. It was before zip codes were introduced and the mailing address was simply “Gee, KY”. My maternal Grandfather ran a general store in Gee, not far from our house. In addition to selling groceries, chicken feed, nails and gas from the one pump out front, he was also the Post Master of the Gee Post Office located in one corner of the store. Later, when he retired, the Post Office was moved down the road a few miles to Spot. Yes, that is right, “Spot, KY” was the new address for folks living on Crooked Creek Rd.
Our house had no plumbing or electricity, but before I was one year old, electricity was installed. This feature lead me to believe that I had super powers, because for the first few months my Dad would hold me up to the dark, bare bulb hanging in the middle of the ceiling. I was too young to understand that it was my father pulling a string that made the bright light appear, rather than the touch of my hand.
As I grew, however, I soon learned that mine was not a magical life, after all. I heard a lot about the “war going on over there” and I thought that meant the enemies were right over the hill in front of our house. As I sat on our front porch swing I kept waiting for Japanese helmets to appear on the horizon. Gas and sugar were rationed, but there was enough love to go around. I received a doll for one of my first Christmases. She didn’t hold up well. Her hair fell off and her “skin” deteriorated and I was told it was because all the good materials had to be used in the war. I kept Mary Rose with me throughout many decades, but finally let her go in 2013 and I still regret that decision.
In addition to my parents I was fortunate that my grandparents lived nearby and they were very influential in my early life. My older brother fulfilled his role by doing all the tormenting things that big brothers do so well, such as on occasion hanging me by my feet from a tree in the front yard. My baby brother was born with an intestinal malformation that would have been easily corrected today, but which proved fatal before his second birthday. A few years later, I had a second cherished younger brother who I protected fiercely.
When I was in second grade we moved from Gee, leaving my beloved grandparents behind. It felt like a different world living in town, the big city of Taylorsville, KY. The transition from a two room school holding grades one through eight to a large school system which included a High School and cafeteria did not start off pleasantly. My first day was in February and it was cold and the wind was whipping my carefully brushed hair every which way. Mom was guiding me through a short-cut to the school when suddenly our feet were plunged into ice cold water. Our short-cut had been concealed thin ice. This awaking was just the beginning of my new school experience.
Our new house was big with two stories and a bathroom. It took some time getting accustomed to using the toilet inside that nice house. I still see my Dad mowing the big yard with pride and can smell the fresh mown grass which seemed to make his smile wider. That was a good thing, because my father suffered from what was then called “involutional melancholia,” now known as chronic depression. Electric shock treatments took away much of his personality along with his smiles for many years.