Daddy Long Legs

I loved the green house.  It was the name my family christened the green house we lived in for several years of my early childhood.  The house several of my sisters came home to after being born.

It was across the street from the elementary school and was the biggest house we had ever lived in. Before the green house, we lived in small brick 2-3 bedroom, low income houses.

I have many memories from this house.  I remember my dad walking me across the street for my first day of kindergarten.  I was wearing a dress with a red skirt.  The top of the dress was made of red and white stripes. Buttons down the front.  I skipped all the way.  I loved school.

I remember a Christmas Eve that I looked out my upstairs bedroom window to see my parents carrying a yellow plastic kitchen into the house.  At the same time I noticed an extra bright star sparkling in the sky and just knew it was Santa, who of course  was leaving after dropping off the toys for my parents to put under our tree.

I remember sitting in or near the garden as my mom worked, picking tomatoes.  The same warm tomatoes I would later sprinkle salt on and eat like an apple on the front porch.

I remember a day in the garden when my mom must have received a phone call telling her that Grandpa Al, her dad must have taken a turn from the worst.  She saw a babysitter, Theresa, walking home from school and yelled to her to come stay with us so she could go to her father.

I remember the great backyard.  There was a club-house attached to the garage.  It had a waterbed in it and we would sometimes pretend it was our own home and play house out there.  I remember some stray kittens that lived in the garage and gave me and I assume several of my sisters ring worm.

There was a small pond with rocks built around it.  For the most part it was in disarray, but one marvelous summer my dad cleaned and took care of it.  We had fish.

The alley was adjacent to the garage and club house.  It was rock and dirt.  I have a distinct memory of a morning following a rain.  It was nothing but mud.  I ran through it over and over, until finally I slipped and landed full body in the mud, covering myself in it with laughter and glee.  Feelings not shared by my mother when she found me swimming in it.

My favorite part was the patio.  It was large with partial walls.  We had my mom’s sisters over once for a barbeque and I still remember that it was the first time I had ever tasted 7 layer dip. I love that dip to this day, only I leave the black olives out.

Off the great patio of my youth, was a shed.  It should have been used for shovels and lawn mowers.  We used it for such better things.  We would use it as a fort.  We would hide in it.  We would play house in it and school, too.

Since losing my mom this past September I feel like I’ve struggled to find memories of my time with her, which was really only my childhood.  I have many regrets about years spent away from her, but those are to share another time.

I have a daughter that graduates from high school in two months.  As I sat sorting through pictures for her reception, I found this one.  My sisters and I playing one of our games in the shed.

I smiled.  It was a happy memory.  A memory of me as an innocent child.  Loving my house, my sisters, my mom, and my dad.  It was before I can remember any thing other than childhood magic.

There were spider webs in the shed. My mom was near me for a reason I can’t remember when I noticed a spider on a web.  I showed her.  She told me it was a daddy long leg.  I remember laughing, thinking what funny words those were.  Then she told me that as a young child she used to pull their legs off.  I realize most of you have no idea what kind of a child I was, but I was quiet and shy.  The thought of pulling a spider’s leg off scared me; and then she did it, pulled a leg off right in front of me and I watched the spider hobble off on the rest of its legs.

It’s funny how our lives run together.  How our present and past and future worlds all coincide at certain places. Twenty years later, I was a boy mom.  A son found a daddy long leg and showed it to me.  I told him how his grandma used to catch them and pull their legs off.

Finding this picture was a blessing; with it came  a flood of happy memories.  Sometimes the bad stuff is easy to remember or maybe it’s just bigger and takes up more space.  I’m working so hard at being softer. Having a kinder heart.  I think it is paying off.  The more I forgive and accept, the more the happy memories come to me.

It is lovely to think that the magic of childhood I work so hard to give my children is because of the moments of magic I experienced in the spaces between all the rest.

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