Time Travel

My dad’s constant journeys as a youth left him with little enthusiasm for travel once he settled down. That, combined with the responsibilities of supporting a wife and eight children, left little opportunity for vacations or pleasure trips. So, we didn’t leave home much.

I do, however, have vivid memories of our once a year 5 hour drive across state to see my aging grandmother and Aunt Birdie, mom’s eldest sister.

Dad would confuse the cow by milking in the wee morning hours. While he cleaned up, mom roused us from our bed and piled us half asleep into the car.

We drove into the dawn and cracked it somewhere high in the Cascade Mountains.

The distinct odor of burned toast greeted our arrival. Grandma Grace liked it charred. I don’t know how she chewed it – her dentures fit poorly. That’s why I thought she was gritting her teeth when she talked. And, at that time in her life she talked incessantly - to no one in particular. I still picture her wrapped in a blue apron, fingering an embroidered handkerchief. She chatted away in the front room of my Aunt Birdie’s house, blissfully unaware that her new audience was not listening.

Aunt Birdie was closer in age to grandma than to my mom. She and grandma wore high top lace up leather shoes with a solid high heel that made them both seem much taller. The heavy heels also gave them the appearance of stomping around the house. They would balance precariously around the little Boston Terrier, Jackie, that was forever figure-eighting his way between the two women’s legs.

If Aunt Birdie wasn’t hollering at the dog, her nasal voice was resonating instructions at the other inhabitants of the house. Usually, she was trying to get the attention of one of her three grandchildren whom she was raising. Not that she was really “yelling.” She seemed unable to produce any volume – so her tone sounded agitated and frustrated when no one heeded her calls.

Although her husband Sam was nearly deaf, Birdie directed him on matters and he would grunt responses. He was a massive old fellow with a generous measure of wavy white hair. I was fascinated by his ability to lift his huge bulk and walk noiselessly through the kitchen without every moving his head. She continued chirping at him even as his form disappeared behind the closing screen door.

I didn’t understand her extensive “duties” until I was much older. She took care of my grandma, her adult daughter, three grandchildren, an ill husband, and a small trailer park. I don’t remember ever hearing her utter a word of complaint.

Our visit would end quickly.

Dad was anxious too soon about his animals at home and mom became uneasy about dad. So, we hit the road in mid afternoon and headed west.

We’d arrive home late, dad would milk once more, and I would go to bed thinking we’d had a grand adventure.

Comments

Kila said…
Birdie sounds like an amazing woman. I hope there's a special place in heaven for her :)
Willowtree said…
Another great trip down memory lane. I guess they weren't too concerned with free radicals in those days.
wendster said…
Pamela ... another masterfully written story.

I just melted right into it.
MarmiteToasty said…
I Love stories of others growing up.... it makes me feel warm....

What a lovely tale you tell..

x
Kaycie said…
They were grand adventures. Look at how clear they are in your memory.

My father is a farmer and cattle rancher. We traveled quite a bit as my father had his father in town to help out if we were gone. But he would never burden Grandpa for very long, so my mother and I traveled alone together quite a lot. When he was with us, he was forever trying to find a phone so he could call Grandpa and check to see all was well. I think it has something to do with the dependence of domesticated farm animals.
Vicki said…
Ahhh that's a perfect post! I love the way you tell your story.
Robinella said…
The way things used to be. Beautifully written, Pamela.
BarnGoddess said…
what a wonderful childhood memory!

You have written another eloquent and amazing snapshot of your life.

I wish I could put some of my happy memories into such expressive words.
Junebug said…
You have a wonderful way with words. You could so write a book, maybe you have? Very interesting. And on top of that your photos are beautiful. :D
Peter said…
It was a grand adventure to do things like that back in the day Pamela, not like now when kids get "bored" so regularly unless they are playing the latest video game or on their cell phones or .......
The pace was easier and life didn't have the same pressures, I'm oh so thankful to have grown up then instead of now.
nikki said…
Beautiful. I hope one day my son will be able to look back and think all his childhood adventures were grand.
heather said…
That's great fodder for a book!
ChrisB said…
I love hearing about your childhood. How differently we perceive things when we are children! I can remember some great 'adventures' and calamities!!
Joy T. said…
The good ole days. People really need to get back to the good ole days. You wrote this beautifully!
PEA said…
I so enjoyed your memories of visiting your grandma and aunt Birdie...both seemed to be quite the characters! lol Your aunt sure had her hands full, though, and makes one wonder if we could handle it all like she did!! It was indeed very hard to leave the farm for very long...I remember some of my aunts and uncles only coming up to visit for a few hours from out of town because they had to get back to their animals. xox
lisa marie said…
I had no idea you were one of eight kids! Wow! Your mom was a busy lady! I bet those roadtrips were blissful if you were one of the kids and exhausting if you were one of the parents. :)
Jenni said…
I love hearing these stories about your family and how you grew up. Poor Birdie! What a lot of work for her! No wonder her voice sounded frustrated.
Karmyn R said…
You made that trip in ONE day? Holy shikey.

I'll never forget My friend, T, telling me about Aunt Birdie in the nursing home - telling T she shouldn't try and lift her because her butt was too big - when she probably weighed 80 lbs.
Shelby said…
I laughed out loud at Karmyn's comment.. 'holy shikey'!!! :)))
Heather said…
Sounds quite similar to my memories of growing up. Dad never traveled either and always had to home in time to feed the farm animals. About the only place we went was once or twice a year to grandma's house.
Susie Q said…
Your beautiful written memories are always such a joy to read.
I get sucked right in and enjoy each and every word!

So, when will we be able to buy the book?? Hmmm??

Love,
Sue
dawn said…
What a great story of your childhood. I love reading about how people grew up. A wonderful read.
La Tea Dah said…
One of my grandma's always ate charred toast as well --- and my other grandma wore those clunky black boots. I loved the post!
Alison said…
what a wonderful childhood memory...great post...I loved it!!
Alison said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robin said…
So many thoughts flitted about my little brain while I was reading--

Did you all ride in one car? Ten people???

Do you have photographs? If someone had been a "foot person" (like moi), I would've loved to have seen their SHOES as you described.

Your command of prose here is simply poetic. I soaked up every word, and ended wanting more.

Kind of like a good sermon ;) (a REALLY good sermon).
Jettie said…
What a Wonderful Story!!!!!!!!!!

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