BY NORBERT RUG
When Donna and I got married I was in the service. We moved 500 miles away from home and we were dirt poor. I used to steal food so we could eat. It was at that time that I learned it was the little things that mattered most. We lived in low-income housing and everyone there would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. The poor were the most generous people I had found. I also found out that you didn’t need a big fancy car. We drove several “rust buckets” over the years. As long as your car got you from point A to point B that was all you needed. I didn’t need to dine in four-star restaurants, a 50 cent, freshly cooked crab from the corner bar was as good as gourmet cooking.
When my daughters were about 7 and 5, I woke them up one cold winter night and threw them in into the back seat of my car. We drove out to the country away from the light pollution of the city and watched the Aurora Borealis. We froze but it was worth it. They are now in her forties and this will still come up in conversation.
The little things in life can include finding a bird’s nest or a warren filled with baby rabbits, witnessing the renewal of life first hand. We had a Mourning Dove build a nest on our garage this year and it was the first thing I looked for in the morning. It was nice seeing Mom (or Dad) sitting on the nest every time I looked. Some people could learn parenting skills from birds.
Our dining room table has had jigsaw puzzles on them and when you passed by you would add a few pieces. This was kind of a community project. I used to tell my children bedtime stories as a way to encourage them to read. I see my children have passed this along to their children.
When we would all gather around the dinner table (yes people used to do that) we would all have to all tell us a useless fact of the day. A fact that you would never, ever need in conversation — so obscure that they wouldn’t even ask it on Jeopardy.
One of my granddaughters spread paper hearts around our house. They were stuck in the vanity mirror, on top of a dresser and even in the frame of our television. Even though she is across the country, every time we watch television we think of her.
At night we used to play games around the table after dinner, like Checkers, Cards, Chess, and Othello. My children have passed this along to my grandchildren. I now play chess with them and I am starting to have to watch myself so I don’t lose. My oldest grandson regularly beats me at Canasta now.
My kids still remember going to a local park and flying kites. I had made my kids kite winders years ago and we gave them a workout, all except my daughter. She just couldn’t seem to get her’s flying, I would set my winder down and get her kite in the air. As soon as I passed the string to her, the kite would turn upside down and commit suicide by crashing into the ground. This happened several times.
Learning to ride a bicycle, picking berries from Nana’s secret raspberry patch behind the garage or homemade popcorn while watching a movie at home. These are things the things a child will remember all of their lives.
Donna and I love to sit on our porch watching a storm roll in and the more lightening the better. When you are older you will understand how precious little things, like the memories you share with your loved ones or sitting on your porch in the early morning, sipping tea and listening to the birds. These things are seeming of no value in themselves, but they can be prized as they convey peace, love, and happiness.
I can still remember building a fort out of couch cushions and blankets, playing stickball in the street with a sawed-off broom handle and a tennis ball, making snow forts and having snowball wars with the neighborhood kids or playing hide and seek, outdoors at night. Not too shabby for a 71 year old. What are some of your childhood memories?
Let me encourage you to get up every day and focus on what you do have in life. Be thankful for the blessings of the little things, the smell of fresh-cut grass, and the sound of wind chimes, the feel of raindrops hitting your skin on a warm summer afternoon or hearing the laughter of little children as they play.
Even though when you don’t get what you expect, learn to appreciate the little things in life. A 13-year-old girl, wise beyond her years, once told me, “You get what you get and you don’t have a fit.”
Norb is a loving, independent journalist that enjoys sharing his memories. You can share yours with him at firstname.lastname@example.org