21 October 2008

The Good Old Days

I seem to recall hearing Carly Simon sing the line "These are the good old days." She's right, of course. Only the very worst periods of our lives won't some day be looked back upon with nostalgia. Even some of those can bring an odd mixture of sweetness with the bitter when we recall them. I suppose that we wax nostalgic over a given period, person, place or event for the simple reason that it's safely in the past and can't hurt us any more and because we can see from a distance just how very good the good parts were.

Shortly before my first wife died, I helped her into our monstrous yellow station wagon and went Christmas shopping with her. She didn't feel good that day, but she didn't want to miss out on the buying of things for our babies. (We always called them "the babies" regardless of how old they got.) Our first stop was at Radio Shack to pick up a radio controlled car for Joseph, our eldest. Shayne couldn't just hop in and out of the car, so as we got to each store, I'd ask her for details on what I was supposed to get and then I'd run in and get the item. At Radio Shack she reminded me that the car Joseph wanted was called "The Fierce Warrior." It didn't sound to me like something the DMV would approve of, but Joseph wanted it and that was enough for us.

As I passed in front of the car towards the store's door, I glanced back through the windshield at little Shaynie. She grinned and then made a "fierce" face while clenching her tiny fists up under her chin. I laughed and went inside to buy the car.

Then came a clown doll that our Autumn wanted. It was a beautiful thing but not terribly expensive. Shayne had to wait inside the car while I went into the mall to make the purchase. There was a long line to pay for the doll and another long line to wait for gift wrapping. I was nearly an hour getting back to her. Her energy had run out and she had collapsed sideways onto the front seat of the car. When I opened the door, she was crying and said she'd been afraid that I wasn't coming back. I cried, too, realizing how much she had suffered during my prolonged absence. I took her to the doctor's office and he had her admitted to the hospital immediately. It was not her last hospitalization, but it was probably the next to the last.

About thirteen months before all this we had paid for a professional photographer to get our family portrait. That's it above this article.

It is now about 18 years since that photo was taken. Everything, everything, everything is different now. But I still remember with huge love all the emotions of that shopping trip. And I recall with longing how wonderful it was to have all my little people with me in my home. A few months ago I stood up in a Fast and Testimony meeting and told all the young couples in our ward that they are living through the good old days right now. They seemed to know that I was speaking truth.


Joseph and Mary + Seven said...

As if I'm not a hormonal emotional mess already!! I read this post and am now balling like a baby! I love your/my family so much. Thanks for Joseph!

Janie said...

I don't like to start my day crying, Jim. That was absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Jocie said...

Thanks for the memories, to quote Bob Hope. I was thinking the other day about our trip to SLC. Shaynie was just worn out, but that trip was so important to her. I'm so glad I had that time with your family.

My Favorite Books & Authors

  • Dale Brown
  • Mark Twain
  • Charles Dickens
  • Speeches both Historical and Hysterical
  • Damon Runyon
  • Jan Karon Mitford Novels
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  • Tom Clancy Novels
  • Harry Potter
  • The Works of Ernest Thompson Seton