There’s a scene in the movie “While You Were Sleeping” when the head of the house talks about how there are times when everything in life is fine, everybody is well, business is good and life is sweet. We all have those memories, and this old lady is no different.
Of course, we all remember those special times like weddings and for the ladies the birth of their children. One of my fondest memories is looking down that that tiny wrinkled red face and feeling the wonder of seeing my first of five sons. I’m smiling because that little, winkled red-faced son is now a 69-yearold, retired man.
Not all of our memories are of special occasions; some are just of ordinary times that stick in the back of the mind like peanut butter in the roof of your mouth. One of my favorites happened when we still lived in Ambler, Pa. and my son Dean was singing in the children’s choir.
The children wore bright red robes with large stiff collars and had some kind of bows around their necks. The hymn started and Dean began furiously bouncing his head up and down in time to the music. Everybody in the congregation was smiling and trying — I know I was desperately trying — not to laugh. It was adorable and the memory of that little boy, that wonderful Sunday, will live in my mind forever.
Who among us doesn’t remember that phone call when you are told your very first grand-child has come into the world? My second husband, Van, and I were having dinner with friends in our home in Fresno, Calif. when son Douglas called to tell us grandson Curt had joined the family. I smiled, another boy! However, as the years flew by, four granddaughters arrived breaking that crazy list of “all boys.”
Then there’s the time when my husband Van took me fishing up at one of the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain lakes. I wasn’t all that excited, but I was in love with my hubby and determined to learn how to fish to please him. Van had moved around past a hill at the edge of the water, and I stood there alone. Yes, I’d put a worm on the hook and had dutifully tossed out that line.
There I pouted, a not too happy camper. Just then there was a tug on my line, and another tug, and another. I screamed, probably scaring away every fish in a mile. Van came running back to see what was happening and helped me pull in a really tiny trout. The fish was hooked, and so was I. After that, Van had no trouble talking me into going fishing.
My parents had not been happy when I left my first husband, took five sons across 3,000 miles of America, and divorced Don Sr. Mother always thought my choices were wrong — except for the first husband, she loved him — and used to talk like mothers always did back then. You take the good with the bad, etc., etc., and for a long time after the move she wouldn’t even talk to me.
Of course, when I married my Van, she had the usual “tongue in cheek” and was certain I’d made a really terrible choice. Then she came west to meet this new man in my life. I savor the memory of that day when mother left after her visit, when she had to admit I had made a very good choice. It wasn’t easy for her, but I grinned all the way home from the airport.
Van died in March 1984.I’d grieved far too long. Now in 1988, I worked in Carson City at the office of the Reno-Gazette Journal. One Monday coming back from visiting my son Doug who lived in Fallon, I had to pass the road where Van and I had lived before moving to Idaho. I began to smile remembering the good times, the friends, the fun, and the work,all of that wonderful few years.
Instead of tears, I was smiling at something Van had always said. He lovingly reminded me daily that there was nowhere in the world you could get a guarantee that you would have a tomorrow, and you should enjoy today. That special day as I traveled home, I looked out at the tumbleweed and sage, blooming green in the spring air, and smiled. Van would have been pleased.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.