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Upon Reflection ...

Ruth Richards

My life has been no more ordinary nor any more exciting than most. I grew up, married and had children, six daughters. We had our good times, peppered a bit with bad times. Each of these six girls married and went her separate way. Finding myself on the path to 100, I suggested that we have a little reunion. No husbands, no children. We had only a few days together and tried to make the most of that time.

One evening after a lovely dinner that the girls had cooked in unison, we stayed at the table talking. Not surprisingly memories began pouring forth. I suggested that we do this in an orderly fashion and Lucille could hardly contain herself. She wanted to be first.

She jumped in —well of course she didn’t jump, but she was determined to be first. She had a memory that had seemingly been with her forever. Although we had heard it many times, she wanted to tell it again.

Very early in life—anything before sixty is early to me—I had been given a pair of gold earrings with green stones. Lucille had admired them many times as did they all. I had never told anyone who had given them to me, and I wasn’t about to reveal that secret now. All the girls had tried them on, as daughters do when looking through their mother’s jewelry box . Each one had coveted them. Lucille especially wanted them as she claimed they matched her eyes. Finally before Lucille left home, I relented and gave them to her. Lucille had been a bit of a maverick in the family and one day she announced that she was going to become a Catholic. She chose St. Anthony as her Patron Saint.

This is Lucille’s memory. One of her friends had died and somewhat as a tribute to this friend, Lucille wanted to "dress up" for the funeral. With other finery she wore the earrings that had been mine. Shortly into the funeral Lucille touched her ear as we do when wearing earrings, and horror of horrors one earring was missing.

After the funeral she and others searched the places she had been and finally the earring was found, somewhat tucked into the collar of the coat of a friend she had hugged.

Of course Lucille was relieved and joyous, but she went further with her story. "St Anthony had found it, she said. She had prayed to him and he had answered her prayer.

When Luclile had finished Beth said, "My turn, My turn!! Beth’s story was one which we all remembered and had ourselves told many times to each other and elsewhere.

Beth was planning her wedding and because we all knew Beth to be the "beauty" in the family, we knew that she would be a beautiful bride. She wanted everything to be perfect as of course we all did.

There where showers and more showers. All the merry making that makes a wedding memorable. At one of the showers the soft background radio music was interrupted by the announcement of the shooting of President Kennedy. Beth cried, "Oh, my wedding—my wedding."

A hush fell upon the room. There is no denying that a cloud had been cast over the festivities, as there had been over all the country. But of course the wedding wasn’t canceled. Beth was as beautiful a bride as we all knew she would be; the guests had a wonderful time at the reception. . We bid her and John "Goodbye" and they left for their honeymoon.

She later told us that she has the lingering feeling that the South was unwelcome to them. The South thinking the North was blaming the South for Mr. Kennedy’s death.

The girls were all at home when their father died. Both money and location made it necessary that we move. Shortly after the death Ginger was married and left home. Both the death of her father and moving was sad, she said. However, there was a new beginning for her and for the sisters. That helped to cheer her.

Ginger had another memory she wanted to tell. She remembered the first time she had ever danced with a boy. She was 13, and she’ll never forget that they danced to Barbra Streisand singing, "People." Did I really agree to Ginger going to a dance when she was 13?

The enthusiasm was waning. We left the table, had a bedtime snack and promised to assemble the next day and continue our memories.

The first memory that day was Julia’s. She began by announcing that she had two memories and wanted to tell them both. One was of shopping with me and the other was a sledding story. As it turned out they were very brief. Julia was always to the point.

The first recollection was of shopping at Safeway. She didn’t know what we were buying. It may have been sandwich meat for school lunches. She said the butcher gave her a piece of bologna, and oh it was so good. (All that fat and salt Yummy!)

The other was of putting one skate on a board and zooming down a hill. That was all she said. I wish she had told more as I don’t remember that at all.

That part of Julia’s story may well have happened during the time of Carolyn’s story, which was also about sledding and entailed a great amount of work by the girls’ father.

Carolyn remembered their father cutting down trees in the woods behind our house. I don’t know how many trees he cut but it seemed to take a long time. Some were big and some were small, but eventually they had been cut, and a sled run was finished.

"She said, "it seemed to take a long time but finally the path was clear, and we had years of flying down the hill on cold snowy days. It was great fun—the climb back up the hill wasn’t."

We were coming to the end of what had been a fun family exercise, but hadn’t heard from Anne, yet. She had a memory that we could all identify with. She told of applying for a job advertised in the "Washington Post "Alan called to tell me that I got the job. I ran to tell mother, ripped the newspaper to shreds and scattered them around the room. I was that happy."

We thought the evening had ended when the telephone rang. Jennifer, our new neighbor, having heard that the girls were home, wanted to come over and meet them. I told her about our story telling and she had one she wanted to tell.

She recalled a Christmas Eve, when her family had come together to unwrap gifts, and eat the traditional filet of beef. She said, "We were opening gifts but mother stopped to take the roast out of the oven and put it on the kitchen table, then returned to the gift opening. The smell of the beef was tantalizing. When the rest of the family went to the kitchen to help get the dinner on the table, there was no roast. Everyone thinking it had been hidden, looked everywhere. Alas, there was no roast.

"Prince our lovely old dog, sat looking pleased with himself. Actually he was smiling as if to say, ‘Thank you for a lovely Christmas dinner.’ Every bit of the roast was gone and the pan had been licked clean. We scrounged the freezer and the fridge for OUR Christmas dinner."

Now it was over. Jennifer felt welcomed into the neighborhood. The girls were happy to have been home and with each other. Would we do this again? Where will we all be next year? Everyone voted these three days as having been one of the best of all reunions.

Read other Stories by Ruth Richards

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