Sunday, July 13, 2008

Little bits of paper -- jcarolek

Tonight was another treat for me. I thought I was coming up to the Baltimore area, preparing for my work week here, and going to dinner with my Dad and step mom in their home nearby. When I awoke this morning and checked my email, I discovered one from my brother Dan, asking if I'd like him to pick me up on his way to Dad's. Sure, I had no idea he was coming too, but I always welcome a willing chauffeur!

So at about 4 PM he picked me up at my hotel and we headed over to Dad and Lynne's place. As it turns out, my sister also drove over to join us for my 50th birthday dinner. As always, the food was excellent, and the company perfect!

I don't recall how we ended up on the subject of childhood memories, but we did, and Dan contended that he had basically no memory of "the girls" in the family (my sister and me) as, from his perspective, we were "royalty" and he was busy dealing with a brother who was obsessed with collecting little bits of paper, and little pieces of broken china! Jeannie and I laughed our heads off at a memory neither she nor I recalled, but which clearly was cemented in Dan's archives.

"What are you talking about?" Jeannie asked..and we both died laughing as Dan embarked down his memory lane of our youngest brother Ray, who liked to dig in the yard, collecting bits of broken china he found, and, cleaning them off and "displaying them like some curator in a museum." The whole image was hilarious to me, even as I did recall Ray once finding an old spoon in one of his back yard excavations, and "cleaning it up" for our grandmother for a Christmas gift....after all, she collected silver spoons...but I digress. Back to the bits of china that I was now envisioning displayed in the room my brothers very odd and out of place that sounded, but I don't doubt for a minute it is true.

"But what about the bits of paper?" I asked, my stomach already hurting from laughing so hard. "Oh, yeah, Ray would tear up lots of little bits of paper and pretend that he was the conductor on a bus, handing out tickets....

No, I didn't recall that either, but I DID recall that when Dan and Ray shared a room when we lived in England, they kept a stash of bread, peanut butter and jelly so they could make sandwiches at will.... "yeah," agreed Dan, "we hid under the covers when we made the sandwiches, and our sheets were all sticky from the jelly!" (BOYS!)

I remember that room with its double bed -- the one we kids all used to learn to do our fantastic trampoline REALLY...we were all destined to be talented trampolinists....well, maybe not. But that bed certainly took a LOT of abuse in those years...four boys and at least one of the girls bouncing unmercifully on its mattress and box spring (I think Jeannie was too responsible to join in our childish activities....or else she was too busy collecting pigeon feathers to construct her bird, to participate in the future Olympic champion trampolinist training).

So tonight, as we wrapped up another nice memory surrounding a shared meal, we relived those growing up years...six kids in seven years...what WERE my parents thinking??? And as I was getting ready to leave to return to the hotel, I spied a photo hanging on the wall in Dad and Lynne's hallway...a picture of the six of us...still shiny in our newness on that Easter morning long ago...and I had to smile as I snapped a picture of the picture...the little collector of bits of paper and broken china smiled proudly...surrounded by his five older siblings...oblivious to his brother Dan, standing directly behind him, whose face portrays a certain, "disdain"...and I wonder if they were both thinking about the lovely broken bits of china displayed in their shared room!

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