You know what I miss? I miss gardening. When I was a little kid, I grew up on the farm where we grew a huge vegetable garden every year. We had an abundance of vegetables and fruits, and the best watermelon I have ever tasted. There were squash and melons of all different colors, orange, yellow, red and they were so plentiful that dad would go out with the pickup truck and we would come back to the house with the whole back truck bed filled high with melon which we would store in the root cellar.
I remember every afternoon in the summertime we would stop what we were doing and eat cantaloupe and musk melons after scooping out the seeds and putting a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center and enjoying every single bite. There were six kids in the family and even though we were really quite poor, we as children were not aware of that fact. We lived in a small house that my grandfather built, which had three very small bedrooms, and eat in kitchen, a tiny living room and one very small bathroom which we had to fight for to get ready for school in the morning or to get ready for church every Sunday.
Today I am feeling very nostalgic. I suppose it is because I just spoke to my 87-year-old father, who is now in a nursing home. He recently had a stroke and his speech is affected, and his cognitive abilities as well. The main thing that has been affected is his personality. I remember him always as a tough man, his way is the highway, and hard as nails. I realize now that he was the way he was because of his upbringing. He went off to World War II, when he was just 17 years old and up until that time, he was a Mama’s boy and very attached and devoted to his Mom.
My grandmother Katie had nine children; eight boys and one girl and one time she had three of her boys going off to war. I have been told many times about the nervous breakdown that she had during that terrible time and spent a very long time in the hospital. When she came home she had to learn to speak all over again. And so she had to start all over again as though she were a little child and that my uncle Joe, as a young teenager taught her to read and write. As time went on my grandparents moved from their farm to a town about 30 miles away where grandma got a job in a bakery in order to keep her mind active and to bring in extra money. She was greatly loved there and they became part of her extended family. Grandpa John was tough, rarely showing emotion. And even though we went to visit occasionally, I hardly even remember him. He really didn’t pay any attention to the grandchildren. It’s just the way he was; kind of scary.
So now the thing is that after my dad’s stroke, he has become extremely affection. He tells all of us how much you love us and thinks about us and how he and our mother did the best they could to make sure we were all okay. Mom died at age 66 from complications of multiple sclerosis and my dad took care of her for all those years, so no matter how many hard feelings I had against him Growing up . I see him now as a very strong man, a good man who did the best he could with the hardships and a hard life, which he was given. And so I see the tremendous love that my parents had for one another to get through all of the trials of their lives together.
I see now how all of our upbringings bring us to where we are now and that there is always more in life to give us a chance to change and to grow and to become better people. I love my dad. I have always loved my dad even when I was afraid to approach him because of his reprisals, or when we had disagreements so far apart that we weren’t even on speaking terms. And now that we are both older and wiser, we have come to a place where all there is love and caring. We have both forgiven each other for our failings and for our words and deeds that came from different worlds. I think now of how much time and worry and righteousness we could have saved ourselves and each other by showing empathy, forgiveness and love from the beginning and not waiting all these years to get where we are right now.
And yet that is the story of how life works. We get there; little by little, task by task, situation by situation, one step in front of the other always doing the best we can with what we have.
You can read more funny, sad, tender, real-life stories of my life lived with MS in my book, Potty Mouth.
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