Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ooh, Ahh Moments

There are times in life when we have one of those Ooh, Ahh moments. They are often few and far between which we should sometimes be thankful for but they are certainly life changing moments. I have had several of those moments so earth shaking that they will stay with me until my dying day.

First I should explain what I am referring to as an Ooh, Ahh moment. Ooh moments are always bad. You do something or something happens that involves you and you just know that nothing good is going to come from it. In fact, dread climbs on your back and sits like a heavy weight for weeks or years waiting for all the fallout to subside. Ahh moments are always good and happen much more often than their trouble loving cousins. Ahh moments, however, can come and go so quickly that you almost miss them entirely and certainly do not have time to enjoy them, all that might remain is a faint smell, a smile on a loved one’s face, or the soft caress of having been part of the most rare of magical moments. Other times the Ahh moments will linger and you will find that feeling or scent returning to be enjoyed over and over as you go through the day. Sometimes you just get that relaxed, everything-is-perfect feeling and want to make time stand still so it will stay with you forever.

The first serious Ooh moment that is committed to my memory happened when I was eleven. It started out as what seemed like the absolute worst thing that could happen to a young city girl and was the catalyst for my next even more serious Ooh moment ten years later. That is when I learned that Ooh moments can come strung out like beads on a chain with all of them traced back to some original Ooh moment that was the silent trigger.

One day my parents sat their six children down and told us we were going to have two new changes in our lives. First, we could expect a new sibling to be arriving soon and second we were moving to a larger house out in the country. Well, as the oldest of the bunch the new addition was no surprise. I was a smart child and had that one figured out many months earlier. I also knew that a move was planned because my parents had the habit of waiting until they were in bed each night to discuss all their important business. They thought that would make the conversations childproof. They did not know that I would pretend to be asleep until after Mom did her bed checks, then I would get up and place my quilt in front of the bedroom door to block the light from going under the door into the dark hallway and read with one ear glued to the door until after their nightly talk turned to sounds of things more adult or they said their good nights. I just never expected my parents would drag us all off to a house so far in the sticks that it had no indoor toilet and we would be attending a four room school house, of all things. I was devastated.

I was in the sixth grade and it was the first year that I had what I would call real friendships with a group of girls in my class. Barbara Clark claimed to be the niece of Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame. None of us believed her but liked the idea that we knew someone with a famous relative so we never let on. Barbara lived close enough that I was allowed to go to her house and play and often the twins Suzanne and Stephanie would be there as well. At the time of my parent’s big announcement we had just been to our first boy-girl party with a real jukebox and dancing and now they wanted to take me off to the boondocks and away from not only my new friends but Elsie the lady that helped care for us. I knew that, as the oldest, I would soon have to change my name to Cinderella. I think I cried myself to sleep every night for weeks before and after that move.

I admit that for the remainder of that year I took every opportunity to make my parents life as miserable as I was. If my brothers felt any of the same emotions about moving I do not remember because it only took one visit to the new house for them to fall in love with it. Finding the new place had a field big enough for baseball, the promise of a dog, plus learning the family down the road had eight boys added to their excitement so they were soon in their glory. We had been eight people in a small four room bungalow and now we had four bedrooms with a large kitchen and a full basement. Sure, having more room was nice, but all I could see was an old house with a musty basement covered in coal dust, and a well worn path to the outhouse. Besides, all my parents grand stories about how we would have a garden, chickens, milk cow and even a few pigs did not sound like it would be as much fun as they made it out to be. The last thing I wanted to do was have to touch some smelly old pig.

My dread of the life I would have after the move was not unfounded and my life was forever changed, but, so was the life of every member of the family. For me, the seedlings of resilience, adaptability, and personal growth began to grow, but a life long struggle with the weeds that choked my self worth, inner peace and personal harmony also became firmly rooted as well. After our move the family grew from seven to thirteen children and the struggles of my parents to care for their growing brood added considerably to the responsibilities my oldest brothers and I were expected to take on. The struggle to find and be myself, and not the person everyone else expected me to be, was what lead me to my second most serious Ooh moment in 1967.

In the fall of 1965 I became enamored with a very handsome young man. Looking back I realize that my parent’s disapproval of the relationship probably increased my attraction and within six weeks we became engaged. We were married in the summer of 1966 and as the saying goes, “the blush was hardly off the honeymoon” before I realized I had jumped from the frying pan into the blazing fire. Being a proud and stubborn Catholic girl I was determined not to let my parents know just how right they had been. There was no way I was going to crawl home admitting that I should have listened so I set about doing all I could to make things work. The problem was that we were both of that sandwich generation wedged between the strongly chauvinistic husbands of our father’s era and the more liberal thinking males of the next generation. In other words he wanted to be a classic nineteenth century male while I wanted to be a twenty-first century woman. We were married for 37 years until his death in 2003, and during that time I never once doubted my husband loved me as much as it was possible for him to love anyone, but, his kind of loving did not translate into the kind of support I so desperately needed. One day in 1967 my second major Ooh moment occurred when I suddenly realized that I was pregnant and any chance I might have had of achieving the life I dreamed of was forever lost. Regrettably, that child died shortly after birth and the resulting grief and depression caused me to overlook the perfect window of opportunity to undo the mistake I had made. By the time that thought finally occurred to me I was pregnant again and the dye was forever cast.

Until this year the ahh moments in my life quickly became indelibly etched in my memory because of their rarity. I am not referring to things like the first time you held your newborn child, watched as they performed their first violin concert or strutted across the stage to receive their diploma. Yes, those are all Ahh moments but I am referring to moments that are unexpected and send warm tingles all the way to your toes. For example, if you and you spouse are out walking and notice a spectacular sunset and stop for a moment to watch that is a nice moment. But, if when you stopped your spouse put their arm around you and said, “What a lovely sunset, I am so glad I was able to share it with the person I love most,” That is an Ahh moment to remember and will probably have you walking an inch off the ground for awhile besides.

Yesterday, my husband and I were sitting in the office of our investment banker and while she was busy entering our information into her computer my dear husband leaned over and whispered into my ear that he wished he was free to nibble on my ear lobe at that precise second. Now that is an Ahh moment that had me floating on air all the way home and other events like it are the reason that the Ahh moments in my life are on the increase this year.

You will have to forgive me because I am going to end this now and go tell that sweet man how much I love him.

Ohhhhhhhh Frank, where are you?

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