Sjs59's Blog

one tiny voice among many

A Trip to England Usually Happens to Other People, Not Me

take off from Boston

take off from Boston

When Jackie, (one of my third cousins I connected with doing a family history search), first talked about me visiting her in England, it was just that, talk (for me anyway).  

Yes, I very much would have loved to meet her but taking a trip to England was something I never thought I would ever really, actually do and when she started talking to me about going, I told her it would probably never happen.

For one thing, I was terrified of flying…..I really don’t like the idea of having so much space between me and the ground!  Simple as that!  To have to fly for such a long time?  I thought, “no way, not me!”

Then there was, where was I going to get the money to take a trip like that?  I’m not independently wealthy or anything like that.  I virtually, like most people, work pretty much paycheck to paycheck and it seemed an impossible mission for me.

Then there was the idea that it wasn’t me who had been  particularly interested in taking a trip to England.  It was my daughter Katie who might have loved it but that was no longer possible for her.  However, the thought had been planted and every time Jackie mentioned it, I started thinking more about it.

Thought is a funny thing though once one has been planted.  It’s like a flower or vegetable seed planted in the garden.  Given the right elements, it just seems to grow and grow and becomes what it is supposed to be and that’s kind of what happened with the thought of going to England.

Every time I talked to Jackie on the phone, at least a very small part of it became conversation about me going to England.

Sometimes even without planning it, your body starts to make the motions that take you in a certain direction when you really had not planned for that to happen.   You just kind of do the next action which is required next when the thought pops into your head.

Just for the hell of it, I opened a new savings account and had money deposited directly into it so that I wouldn’t even see it to be tempted by….you can’t miss what you don’t see, right? and then I just kind of forgot about it for a while.

And, every once in a while, I would check out airlines on the web and see what flights to England were going for.  I would see that it was a lot of money and would go back to not thinking about that for a while.

Then came the day that in our conversation about going to England, I said,”ok”  I committed myself to making the trip.

Almost immediately I thought about backing out of it because I was so afraid of the flying.  All I thought was, “how the hell am I going to do this?”

My bank account grew and I started to feel more and more like a trip to England might be possible for me, that is if I decided that I wanted to fly all those hours it was going to take to actually get there.  (Trust me, I did actually look into taking a boat).

What finally made me make up my mind to go to England was the fact that Katie would have loved going and she couldn’t.  I made going for her more important than going for myself and I would take her, in spirit, with me.

Jackie in our conversations up until the time I was to leave, was always talking to me about not thinking of the actual flight.  She kept telling me to think about where I was going instead of the how I was going to get there part of it.  

Eventually I stopped focussing on how much space was between me and the ground and started to think about what I was going to do to get through the five hour flight from Boston to Iceland and then another couple of hours to England.  How on earth do you sit in one spot for five hours and then get onto another flight for two more hours?

Just think about how fast your ass falls asleep or starts to feel the littlest of uncomfortable when you’re sitting anywhere for any length of time.  And here you are on a plane, over the Atlantic Ocean?  How does one manage that?

That’s when I had the idea of listening to books.  I started seeing commercials for a new audio book service that could be downloaded to your phone and I thought that would be the perfect way to spend my time in the air, crossing the Atlantic Ocean…..have someone reading to me.

Unfortunately for me, my phone told me I didn’t have enough memory to hold the books.  Eventually, I had to buy another device and some cds of the books, download them to my computer and onto my device from there.  I know, a lot of work but I thought it would be worth it in the long run so that I could be distracted from the actual flying.

So, there, it was decided….I was going to England.  Now to decide on when to go was the next issue.  But because the date hadn’t yet been fixed and the ticket not purchased, I still had the idea in the back of my mind that I could, should I want to, could still back out of it if my fear of flying took over me.

And that is pretty much how it went for me over the course of more than a year.  That’s right.  It was well over a year, almost two from the time Jackie and I first started talking about me going until I actually flew to England.

In the meantime, I let my savings balance grow, periodically checked prices of tickets with different airlines and also looked for the flights with the least amount of stops.  The less upping and downing there was of the plane, the better I liked it.

Then Jackie and I had the dreaded for so long, (by me),  conversation about planning and picking the actual date and time that I would be making my trip to England.  There could be no more beating about the bush for me, humming and hahing, I had to commit, one way or the other, so I did.  I was indeed going to England. 

Jackie and I settled on a date and from then on, everything I did was to prepare for my trip to England.  I kept checking airlines and prices and when the price finally dropped below $1,000.00, I bought my ticket.  I knew that was the best deal I was ever going to get.

My trip to England was an awesome experience.  The flights were fine and I didn’t feel afraid and except for seeing that my suitcase zipper didn’t hold up when I saw it on the conveyer belt in England and an overnight stay in the bus station in Boston when I arrived back in the States, I wouldn’t have changed anything about my trip.

There was even a way to view those two things as positives as well.  As for my suitcase, I wrapped two of my bungie cords around it before I left home, anticipating that I might need them coming home if I bought stuff and needed to keep two cases together.  And in the bus station in Boston, I met another lady traveler who lived in Connecticut and had just arrived from South Africa where she had been visiting her son for about a month, we looked after one another for the night.

Never in a million years would I ever have expected that I would take a trip to England and I did.   It’s okay to feel afraid, but you can’t let your fear stop you from doing something that is otherwise a wonderful thing to do.

Thank you for reading.sam_0471 sam_0468 sam_0466 sam_0464 sam_0463

buckingham palace

buckingham palace


kensington palace

kensington palace

sam_0457 sam_0456 sam_0446 sam_0438 sam_0434 sam_0433 sam_0431 sam_0427 sam_0425 sam_0419

kensington park

kensington park

sam_0409 sam_0405 sam_0404 sam_0401 sam_0398 sam_0393 sam_0385 sam_0383 sam_0379 sam_0373 sam_0371 sam_0369 sam_0368 sam_0367 sam_0359 sam_0357 sam_0354 sam_0349 sam_0341 sam_0337 sam_0336 sam_0332 sam_0329 sam_0321

entering the underground

entering the underground

sam_0301 sam_0300

canal boat we road on

canal boat we road on

the family church

the family church

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lady di's memorial

lady di’s memorial


althorp....lady di's family home

althorp….lady di’s family home

fresh from the atm

fresh from the atm

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the back garden

the back garden

sam_0215 sam_0214

taking off from logan

taking off from logan

london sights

london sights

take off from Boston

take off from Boston


Lessons I’ve Learned About Parenting From Being A Parent

Parenting.  It’s not an easy job and believe me, it is a job!  It’s work!  And if anyone tells you it’s easy, they either don’t care or they’re full of shit!  And, if you have the child’s other parent always trying to undermine everything that you do because they have issues with you, it’s even harder.

But, it can be the best time you’ve ever spent with other people in your whole entire life, hands down!

1.  Most important of all, it is ok to tell and show your kids that they are loved by you and always try to do what is the best thing for them and not what is the easiest thing for you.

2.  Your child’s safety is in your hands, teach them that they need to be aware of their surroundings and you have to pay attention to older kids and adults who are being overly nice or friendly to them.  I was suspicious of almost everyone until I knew that my kids were going to be safe with that person.  

2.   Spanking is okay!  Especially if your child was so busy with their toy that they didn’t notice that they were walking right into the street and possibly heading into the path of oncoming traffic. One good smack on the ass gets their attention quick and they will remember it and what it was for.  

I’ve found that I could talk until I’m blue in the face and it never had as much of an impact as a smack on the rear.

3.  Having a battle of the wills with a 3 year old over whether they will just simply try to zip up their own pants or not never works….you do not ever, ever win!

Regretfully now, yes I did.  So stupid, I know.  But I think sometimes the issue you’re dealing with at the time may not be what is really motivating you to be so stubborn.

4.  Nothing you try works all of the time.  There is no set in stone remedy to a problem or issue that works every single time that you use it.  As your children grow older, sometimes the issues get bigger but you can’t give up, they’re worth your effort.

5.  Know when you should let them go to find their own way.

6.  Appreciate the individuals that each child is and treat them accordingly….no two are exactly alike!  Believe me!

7.  Assure them that it is okay for them to have their voice but to be mindful of how they say it.  Speaking in a fresh or smart-ass tone is unacceptable.

8.  It is possible to have a friendship with your adult children.  They can grow to be awesome people. 

9.  Try not to expect anything in return for all that you have sacrificed, given them or gone through for them….they do not owe you anything.  They are here to live their own lives with their own purpose, be grateful for whatever they give you.

I know there is much more that I’ve learned from being a parent that I can’t think of now but this here is quite a lot for starters.

I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I had never become a parent.  I loved the job of being Ma to my kids, Adam and Katie and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat if I had to.

Thank you for reading.


I Can’t Sleep!

It’s 2:33 am and I can’t sleep.

I’ve been tossing and turning for almost an hour now, trying to get back to sleep and I realized that it’s probably not going to happen, so here I am,

Everything hurts!  Well, not every thing, but my legs do!!  It’s from all those years of standing in one place on cement floors for long periods of time…..some nights there’s just no relief.  Tonight is one of those nights.

And because I can’t sleep, I can’t turn off all the thoughts either. Some people know how that is, the thoughts about your life and what’s happening or not happening, etc., etc., etc.

My thoughts tonight are about how it used to be and how it is now, quite different for sure…..but I won’t elaborate.  It is what it is.

You get to a point and you just gotta get past the past and let the future take care of itself, ‘cus it ain’t here yet.  

At least I do anyway.  Live in the moment because that’s all you have.  You spend too much time in the past or in the future, you’re never happy…..always longing for what could’ve or should’ve been and what might be.

I’m beginning to feel like I might be able to try and go back to sleep now.

Wishing everyone well.  Good night and thanks for reading.



“Which One Are You?”

This is what my Aunt Terry asks me every single time she sees me….even now….still.

I should first tell you though that my parents raised all of us kids to respect our elders.  So much so that I actually saw most adults as better or higher up than myself.

When I was a young child, I thought that Aunt Terry was being playful when she asked me which one was I?  After all, she was supposed to be my Godmother.  I thought, how can you not know the child you are supposed to care for if anything should ever happen to her parents?

Over the years I came to realize that she had to ask who I was every time because she didn’t care enough to know who I was and just remember me.

I used to try and excuse her by saying well yes, we do have a lot of kids in our family and it must be very difficult for old people to remember everyone of our names but the older I got, the more I thought about it.  What I thought about is that I had just as many people whose names I needed to remember just like her.  

After all, both my parents come from families with at least 4 or more siblings, then they all have spouses and they all have children and I remembered all of them.   Why was it so hard for her to remember who I was?

Because she didn’t care enough to remember me…..simple as that.

When I realized how it really was with her, I saw her very differently then I ever had seen her before.  She became just another human being to me.   From that point on I only spoke to her when I absolutely had to and when she asked who I was after that, I asked her why she asked or smiled and walked away.  

Think she’ll remember who I am now?  Seriously though, now it no longer matters to me whether she remembers me or not.

Thank you Aunt Terry for helping me to become aware.  I feel empowered and strengthened by your inability to remember me.

Thank you for reading.


“Rotten S.O.B.’s”

When my mother was saying “rotten sons of bitches” at the top of her lungs, you knew that she had had enough of what you were doing and she was pissed!  But it was funny to hear and we would crack up every time we heard her say it.

Poor Mom.  Some days when we were young, we really kept her hopping.

I know for myself, I loved being playful and having fun.  I was always coming up with things that could or would get us into trouble like sliding down the stairs on mattresses or cardboard and wetting toilet paper with water and throwing it against the wall to hear it “slap!” and see if it would stick.

I also liked using the kitchen chairs to use as bridges to crawl over  on my knees from one piece of furniture to the other, that is until the day my knee went through the back of my father’s chair and I knew I was going to hear about that one later from him.

We also covered the chairs and the playpen with blankets and made forts in the living room.

Unfortunately for Mom, it was just more crap that she had to clean up and she didn’t like it.

Back then, I never thought of myself as being a destructive kid.  I was just having fun.  But we were all destructive and hard on everything we played with.

It wasn’t that my Mother didn’t try to have us behave better, she did.  She just couldn’t be watching everything that we did all the time.

When you have a lot of kids, you have a lot of work….simple as that and the work wasn’t just minding the kids.  

Back then there were no microwaves and three meals a day had to be made for everybody.  Clothes for everyone had to be washed and sometimes the machine would break down and laundry had to be done in the bath tub by hand on an old scrub board or taken to the laundromat in paper bags loaded into an old baby carriage.  At another time I’ll tell you about those little trips my sisters and I made….talk about embarressment……you have no idea.

Please don’t get me wrong here because I love each and every member of my family and I would not change one thing but I once asked my Mom why she had so many kids.

I think that question hurt my Mom and I really didn’t mean for it to be hurtful, I was just being my naturally curious self.  I was only about 10 or 11 at the time after all, what can you expect?

I wasn’t judging my Mom, I just wondered if it was something women actually thought about or whether it was something that just happened.   

She responded to me by asking, “Who would you suggest I give back Shirley?” and I felt like crap that I had asked.

Once I became a parent, I could see life from my Mom’s perspective a little better.

If I had had the responsibility of keeping so many kids from harm and making sure they were all clean, with clean clothes and nourished, I would probably be calling them rotten sons of bitches too when they couldn’t be acting like they weren’t little hoodlums or heathens. 

Thank you God for my parents and all my brothers and sisters.  They have been my friends for all my life and I appreciate each and every one.

Thank you for reading.

My First Job

A couple of weeks ago I had my 64th birthday.  I am getting closer and closer to the age that I can retire.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that something that seemed so far away in the future at one time, is almost here.

I have been working now for almost, I think, 50 years.  Holy crap!!!, right?

My very first job was on a tobacco farm in Suffield, Connecticut.  It was the Bissell Farm.  They looked for their summer help in the schools.  It was cheap labor for them and an opportunity to make money for the kids.

The farm provided transportation for the kids every day, to and from, in the shape of an old, yellow school bus, driven by a sometimes hung over older man, who once or twice failed to show up and sadly, I can’t remember his name but who seemed like a decent kind of guy.

My sister Christine and I heard about the job at what was the Duggan Jr. High School in Springfield, Ma. where we were students.   Before we could get the job we first had to apply for our working papers because we were miners still in school and our social security cards.  Back then people didn’t apply for social security cards until they were going to work, unlike today where babies are issued one when they’re born. 

There were actually 4 of us who applied at the same time for the jobs.  It was me, my sister Christine and our friends Ginette and Susie, (also sisters and their yard met ours in the back).

1966 was a long time ago and my memory is not clear about whether we were picked up at 6 or 7 a.m. but I’m thinking it was 6 and we started work at 7 and finished about 3.

Working on a tobacco  farm wasn’t especially back-breakingly hard work but more like hot, repetitivley, tireing , disgustingly dirty work that at the end of the week paid us a huge almost $50.00 paycheck and if we were in the sheds, getting paid by the bundle, we made even more.

That may make you laugh by today’s standards but back then it was pretty good for a 14 year old.

When we first started the job, we were shown how to tie the tobacco plant to the wire above it.  This is what kept the plant from keeling over and growing all over the ground.  It wasn’t always easy to know how tight to tie the string and I’d end up pulling a few little plants out of the ground and hoping no one would notice.

After all the plants were tied in all the fields, we would have to go back to each field and wrap the string around the plant to keep it growing upwards until some of the leaves became big enough to pick.  From then on we worked in the sheds, sewing the tobacco onto wooden, flat sticks called lattes, (pronounced lats), that were hung in the rafters of the barns to dry and this is when earning more money by the piece came into play.

The lattes were in bundles of 50 and the more bundles you got through in the day, the more money you made.  I think a good amount would be in the 12 – 14 bundle range for you to be able to make a good amount of money…..average was about 10.

A typical day working on tobacco started with the bus ride to the farm.  As more and more of the girls got on, the chatter and music got louder and louder until we were there.

Work started right on time, no delays.  Work steady until coffee-break about 10 for 10 minutes, then back to work until lunch about 12.  Half hour to eat and relax a bit then back to work until about 1:30 for another 10 minute break then back to work until about 3.  Then back on the bus and driven home.

In the mornings everyone started out fresh and clean but by first break, the backs of our hands were fuzzy looking and black from scraping against the leaves as we picked them up to sew.

When we ate out lunches, we had to make sure to keep the sandwiches wrapped with the plastic bags so the food wouldn’t touch our hands as we ate.

We used to put our cans of soda in the freezer the night before so that it would stay cold enough until we could drink it the following day.

On the bus ride home, the conversations were of what they did on their dates over the weekends, boyfriends signing up for the armed services and going to Vietnam, singing to the songs being played on the radio, like “my boyfriend’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble, a la, a la, my boyfriend’s back”.

My goodness, so many memories of such a long time ago.  I really liked working on tobacco.  I really liked that I made my own money.  I really like too that we were given the opportunity to earn the money we did back then….I’m not so sure that kids are given that opportunity anymore and I’m not so sure they would want it if it were offered to them. 

Anyway, time sure goes by fast.

Thank you for reading.

I’m Still Here

Hi Everyone.  For anyone who might wonder, I am still here….still writing, just haven’t published in a while.

At the moment I have several posts started, I just haven’t had the time to finish any of them and, as many of you who write know, because we get new ideas all the time, it’s sometimes even harder to go back to the old ideas.

For me, writing isn’t like other chores that I do where I can just keep working on it until it’s finished and then move onto something else.   Thoughts for me come easy.  I never, ever stop thinking unless I’m sleeping.   I just need to have the time to think about how I want to tell everyone so that my thoughts will make sense.

Unfortunately for me too is the fact that I am a procrastinator……Big Time!

Even though I love to write, it’s work and requires that I discipline myself, which by the way, I am not really very good at.

Perfect example, I was on vacation this week and I did no writing at all.  I spent a lot of time watching a lot of tv and thinking about my writing but couldn’t seem to get my ass up off the couch and go write.

That got me to thinking about when I retire, which is not too far off from now, and what am I going to be like then?  If I can’t seem to get motivated while I’m on vacation, I may just sit and not do anything except waste away when I have no one to answer to at all anymore.

I think my boss is right when she says we need to have a plan.   I really don’t want to end up a fat old lady waiting to die after I retire.   I know that it very well could happen because one of the things I love to do also is eat.

See how my mind works?  Start off with one thought and end up somewhere else completely different.  

Anyway just wanted everyone to know that I haven’t stopped writing posts and I will publish something soon that will be more interesting to you, (I hope), then this one.

Thank you for reading.

Whoever Said Life Would be Fair Anyway?

I get down sometimes about feeling like I always have to ignore people’s bad behaviors when I feel like it affects me.  

I know really that I don’t have to ignore the bad behavior, that it is my choice as to how I react to others behaviors but in most cases after thinking every situation through, weighing the pros and cons of trying to stand up for myself and others who I think are being mistreated or speaking up, I feel most times it is in my best interest to simply put up and shut up.  But I hate it!

Unfortunately for me, that seems to be my lot in life because there are so many other people out there who just don’t give a crap about anybody but themselves and they go about their lives stepping, stomping and crushing anyone they can to get to what they want.

It’s a fine balance for me picking and choosing which battles I will take on.  For many years I have kept my mouth shut about some people because, inadvertently, it might hurt people I love more if I speak up about it.

When we were kids and other kids would pick on us, my mother used to tell us to “Just ignore them.”

Well I’ll bet that works great for people who don’t mind being pushed around or for those who are saintly and more Christ-like than me.

Even as I write, I can feel the anger welling up inside of me at the mere unjustness of it all.

Famous last words are, “life is not fair”!  No kidding!   Just once though, I would love to see someone who, I think, gets what, I think, is their payback for all the rotten, selfish crap they’ve done throughout their lives, but I’m told that’s not how it works.

People who take are always going to take.  I have no control over people, places and things and it is my job to learn how to live with it so that it does not affect me.

Dr. Wayne Dyer asked a simple question when he said something like, “how can we learn to deal with these difficulties, if we do not have the difficulty in our lives to learn from?”

I agree and I know it’s true that that is how we will learn but some days it really pisses me off that I allow what some people do to bother me so much.

There, vent is over.

Thank you for reading. 

How Many Men Does it Take to Get an Old Volkswagon Started?

….Or, Learning from embarrassing moments in your life.

Back in the late 80’s when my kids were still young, I purchased an old, off white, Volkswagon bug, maybe a ’68?, ’69?, that had been sitting for a very long time in my friend Phyllis’ yard.

I loved Phyllis.  She had been a great friend to me and every time she saw me, she’d say, “Shirleymaaaay, how you doing?”   She has been gone now for about four or five years and I miss seeing and talking to her every once in a while.

Anyway, because it had been sitting for so long, I once asked her if she’d be interested in selling it to me.  At first she didn’t want to.  You know how it is, the selling to the friend and all the negative crap that can happen because of it and besides, she wasn’t really sure if she wanted to part with it.  Finally, she allowed me to buy it from her for the grand price of $25.00.

There were quite a few things wrong with it.  The gas peddle was frozen, the front end was a little crushed and the hood wouldn’t close properly, the fenders needed replacing and a few other miner things here and there.

Before I bought it, I talked it over with Larry, my boyfriend at the time, who just happened to be a mechanic, and he told me that he could probably get it running so I bought it.

The first thing we, (Larry), had to do was get the gas peddle unstuck because Phyllis and Jay, (Phyllis’ husband), wanted it off their property, now that it was no longer theirs. 

Totally understandable, right?

So Larry set to task.  I will set the scene.  First of all, it was at night, after eight and therefore very dark.  So everything Larry was doing to get my bug driveable was being done under the light of one of those one bulbed, hanging lights that mechanics use when they’re working under the hood of a car.

God Bless him, he sprayed a ton of that degreaser stuff on the shaft? of the gas peddle so that he could get it to move up and down.

At first I wasn’t too sure whether it would work but it eventually did.  Once Larry got the gas peddle to function, they put a little gas in the bug to see if it would start.  I can’t even remember now whether they had to jump start it or whether the ignition switch worked or not but it did start with a little sputtering.  

All we wanted to do was get it running so that we could get it to my apartment and do what ever else it needed to be road worthy.

I was so happy and excited that the bug was running.  Now to get it to my apartment.  I do believe it was Phyllis’ cousin who drove the bug.  Larry drove his pickup with me and, I can’t remember if my kids were there that night or not, and Jay drove his truck over to my apartment.

Larry and Jay let the cousin drive the bug in between their vehicles so that he would be less likely to be spotted by and stopped by the police for driving an illegal vehicle on the road.

Oh my Gosh, the chances we took.  I really doubt that I would ever do anything like that again.

So now, here I have this broken down bug sitting in the parking lot at the apartment complex where I live, and, this is where Larry intends to do all of the work on it that needs to get done before I can register or insure it.   And, one more thing to add to the mix, working on automobiles in our parking lots, is not allowed.  

It’s in the lease if you are caught working on cars in the parking lots, you can be evicted.  Ugh, the stress of it all.

Before the bug could be put on the road, we ended up replacing brakes, (shoes, master and lines),  the ignition, two, blue, front fenders, (from the junk yard which is another whole story in itself), and we pulled up the hood enough so it wouldn’t scrape and bounce as I drove.

As many of you can deduct by now, this little car of mine was quite a piece of work.  And believe it or not, just getting it to be road worthy was not the end of the trials and tribulations with it.

For instance, there was the time that I picked up Adam and Katie from school and after hitting one of the bumps in the road, the hood slammed against the horn and it blew all the way back to our apartment, getting the attention of every person walking on the sidewalk, all the way home.  The kids were so embarrassed that they ducked down to the floor until we got home.

Then there was the time that I parked at the convenience store, left the kids in the car while I quickly was running in for something, the gearshift jumped out of park and it rolled into another car.  I heard a bump, turned around and saw it all happen and ran back to my car.  The kids were okay and a woman was walking toward me, saying in a nasilly tone, “hey lady, your car rolled”.

Also, the time that the kids and I were going home after bowling. It had snowed and the bottom of my feet were slippery.  When I went to start my car, my foot slipped over the top of the clutch peddle and the peddle fell backwards to the floor and the car jumped forward over the curb.

And still, one more time, we were coming across the Memorial Bridge from Springfield and hit a bump at the end.  All of a sudden the car seemed to get much louder.  I asked, “does it sound louder to you?”  It was louder, we had lost part of the tailpipe from the exhaust at the end of the bridge.

Ah, and the best yet, was the time that the three men mentioned above had pushed the car clear around the entire circle at the apartment complex where I live, trying to jump start it.  

The car would not start and they could not figure out why….that is until someone thought to look and see if the battery had been reconnected.  It had not been reconnected and better yet, the battery had never even been put back in the car.

Oh my goodness, the things I went through with that car.  My poor kids too, the things they had to put up with.   It was a different time and I was a different person.  When I think now all the things that could have happened to us in that little car….we were so lucky that nothing really bad ever happened to us.  

Maya Angelou used to say, “When you know better, you do better.”

Thank you for reading.


My Great Aunt Rose

I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my Great Aunt Rose.

Aunt Rose was my grandfather’s sister.  Along with their mother Carrie, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England in a ship named the Germanic in 1889.  My grandfather, Edward was about 4 and Aunt Rose was 2.

I’ve looked through the records and I can’t seem to locate where my Great Grandfather Edward Sr. was at the time of his family’s crossing.   I’m assuming that he was already here working and they were coming over here to join him.

Like a lot of other families in America, mine was one that migrated here from other countries, on both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family.  I’ve found from searching through many records that my mother’s, father’s family spent a lot of their time crossing back and forth between here and England….probably because of economical reasons.

From the records I’ve found so far, it looks like the family stayed in the United States after Carrie, Edward Jr. and Rose arrived.

By the time I met my great Aunt Rose, she was into her 70’s and had lived a very long, interesting life.  At least I thought so anyway.

My sister Christine and I were about 10 and 11 years old, and we were little wanderers.  Actually it was more my sister who wanted to wander and she wanted me to tag along with her. This was way back in the late 1950’s and 60’s and we used to visit Aunt Rose quite a bit. 

I remember Aunt Rose looking like such a frail old woman.  She looked tall to me at the time because I was so short.  But I’d say that she was probably not much taller than I am now, which is just under 5 ft. with very thin appearing, olive toned skin that seemed to have the texture of an alligator, only very soft to the touch.

Aunt Rose kept her yellowish, white hair cropped very short to her head.  I always thought she had cut it to look that way but I found out recently it was because of the chemicals for perming and such that her hair had broken off.

I remember also, Aunt Rose had greenish, black stains on two or three of her fingers because she was a smoker and big, blackish/purplish looking spots on her hands and arms from where she said the rats, that her building was infested with, had bitten her.

When I had heard that the rats in the building had climbed right up on her and started feasting on her, I was thoroughly creeped out every single time we visited after that and I kept my eyes open for the sight of any rats, ready to make a be-line out of there if I saw any. (I’m shivering now at the thought…ugh!)

I guess I can say, I loved Aunt Rose.  I knew that my mother seemed to care a great deal about her and my grandfather too.  They both made efforts to stay connected to her even though there seemed to be underlying negative feelings about her from other people in their family.

I felt so sorry for Aunt Rose….she always seemed so sad to me but she seemed to like that we visited her.  

Aunt Rose told us many stories about her life….that she was the “black sheep” of her family.  At the time I couldn’t imagine why but now I understand that it was probably because of some of her life choices that she was branded “black sheep”.

However,  Aunt Rose had a lot of tragedy in her life.  I think it was in 1929 that both her boys died in the same motorcycle accident, on the same day.  Raymond was 20 and Albert was 17.

From the records with Aunt Rose in them, that I have found, it looks to me like after the death of her boys, she and her husband separated and she took up with another man without being divorced or remarried but she took his name.  That would probably be reason enough in the 1930’s,  plus the “woman smoking cigarettes” thing back then, to be labeled a “black sheep”. 

Also, Aunt Rose had another baby some time later from the other relationship and he died too, when he was a baby.  From my own experience, I know that the loss of your child will change you forever.

I don’t know why I’ve had these thoughts about my Great Aunt Rose lately but it was nice to go back there for a bit.  Perhaps because I think a great deal about how my life is with my own grandchildren and how seldom we speak.  It was a different time when I was a kid…..even when my kids were kids.

More children were taught then to respect and care about their elders and people in general.  Not like today when many parents, not all by any means, but many, think that everything their kid does is perfectly acceptable or that they will be taught everything they need to know to live in the world when they go to school…..after all, they are just a kid. What can you expect from them anyway?

For what it’s worth, kids are learning, whether you are speaking to them or not.  They watch what you do more than listen to what you say. 

Thank you for reading.





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