I received a different but interesting and appropriate gift for Mother’s Day. One of my daughters gifted me with a subscription to “StoryWorth.” The idea behind the subscription is for me to write the stories of my life. Each week my daughter will select a question, and the company will email it to me. I am supposed to write the answer to the question and send it back. The company will send the answer to my daughter as well as combining the answers into a book at the end of the year. Here is another picture into who I am.
The question for week 13 is: What about being a child do you miss the most? The thing that I miss most about my childhood is the feeling of being carefree. I was reared in a home where I felt very secure. I knew that my mother and father loved each other, and I knew that they loved each of their children with all their hearts. I had no doubts that they would do anything in their power for me and my happiness, and I never worried about having a place to stay or food to eat except for one time.
Something happened. I do not know the reason, but I decided to run away from home and even left the house. I had no plan, and I did not take any blankets, food, or extra clothing with me. I was about an eighth of a mile down the road when I considered my situation. I wondered what I would eat and where I would sleep, and I immediately turned around and went back to the house. I never ran away from home again.
My family lived on a farm that provided much of our food and money. My father worked the graveyard shift at a gas station in town for extra income. We were poor, especially by today’s standards. We had the essentials for health and life but little more, and I understood enough to not ask for anything expensive. I wore mostly hand-me-down clothing until I was in junior high school and learned to make my own.
I understood that my family did not have as nice of a house or the newest clothes, but I never felt poor. I did not have my own bedroom or even my own bed, but I did not think anything about it. I did have my own drawer in the dresser because Mom insisted that we each have a private space. Other than my own toys and clothes with a drawer to hold them, I did not really have much of anything that I could call my own. I remember being in about the fifth grade and receiving a briefcase-type bag to carry my papers and stuff to and from school. I was so proud of that bag!
I did not have a bicycle. In fact, no one in the family had a bicycle. We either walked the mile or so to visit a friend, or we rode a horse. We had one old brown work horse that had the creative name of The Sorrel. He was one of a pair of horses with the other one name Blue. Guess what color he was? Blue died when I was almost too young to remember him, but The Sorrel was still living when I was a teenager. He was huge and gentle, and we rode him bareback.
We could climb all over The Sorrel, and he would just stand there. We could put children on him from his tail to his ears, and he would carry them wherever they wanted to go. However, he sometimes got back at us in a sly way - but never when little children were on him. I remember several times when he pulled his trick while I was riding him. We would be trotting along and making good time. Then he would take a side step. I would keep going forward with the momentum and land on the ground. Then I would have to find a fence or something to stand on before I could get back on his back. I remember another time that he got back at me, but I do not think that it was intentional. I was putting a child on his back, and he stepped on my left foot. My foot hurt so badly! I thought he would smash it before I could convince him to lift his foot! He was a good horse even though he was old and fat, and I have many fond memories with him.
I loved being outside even as a child. It could have been the small house with the large family or my need for space and privacy. I do not know the reason. I simply know that my favorite memories of living on the farm happened in the spring. I loved running through the yard and pastures with the winter snow barely melted and the March winds blowing their chill breath. I was free, and I loved it! I loved the freedom so much that even the chilly wind could not drive me back in the house. I would find a ditch or a low spot where I could hunker down to get out of the wind, and I would stay there until I was warm enough to run and play again.
Even though I had a carefree childhood, I also had a few fears. My biggest fear was being afraid of the dark. It was not so much the dark that frightened me but what or who might be in the darkness. I was afraid to go to the outhouse any time because I thought Satan lived in the hole in the ground under the toilet. I particularly did not like going out there alone in the darkness. I did not mind walking the quarter of a mile to or from the meetinghouse in the darkness if I was with someone, but I was frightened to do it by myself. In the first place, badgers lived at “the little hill” that was about halfway between the church and the house. We knew they were there because various members of the family had seen them. So I was afraid of badgers even though I never personally saw one. I was also afraid of anything else that might lurk in the darkness.
I still do not like the darkness. Why do I live in a place that has such long hours of darkness? I stay close to home at night, and I do not like to be home alone at night. I was okay being home with the children in the house and my husband traveling, but I feel quite different being here alone at night. Even now I calm myself by giving myself some serious counseling – “There is no one out there watching you!”
My other big fear was missing the school bus. We watched for the bus every morning because we could see it coming over the hill above the farm. The call would go out, “The bus is coming!” We walked a quarter of a mile to the bus stop every morning, and the bus had one and one-half miles to travel from the time when we could first see it until it was at our bus stop. We had to do the farm chores - milk the cows and feed the animals – before we could get ready for school. If we got up late or something went wrong, we would not leave the house when we normally would. Then we would run. I remember running to catch the bus many times and the bus waiting for us. I still hate to be late, but I wonder if I developed my running speed because I had to run for the bus so many times as a child. I still have nightmares sometimes about running for the bus.
There have been times in my adult life when I yearned to be back in my childhood years. I finally figured out that I wanted the security that I felt with my parents and siblings. When I understood my need for security, I could look at my life and figure out what I needed to do to feel more secure. Now that I am in my older years, I feel somewhat carefree again. It is good!