Friday, December 19, 2008




Focusing on the little things that bring a smile... or a sweet memory. Every year when I see Hannah tenderly unwrap this little Santa from all his tissue and bubble wrap and carefully place him on a sturdy branch - I SMILE. When she was a little kid she received this ornament from our neighbor who lived two doors down - a teenager.  Emily was Gretchen's age, and a teenager in high school when she gave this gift to Hannah along with a framed photo of the two of them hanging out together at Emily's house. Hannah was just a little girl then... maybe 5 years old at most. 

She LOVED going down to the Mielke's house.  They always had animals..dogs, rabbits, hamsters, fish... you name it!  And Mr Dan was always cookin' up special treats that he might let you sample if you showed up at just the right time! Miss Yvonne was always welcoming, always had a hug and smile to give you... always interested in what was on your mind.  There was Emily who always played with Hannah, played board games with her and included her in whatever she was doing and made her feel special, like a big girl! And there was always our Zach and Emily's younger brother Andrew to play ball with in the side yard. I never worried when my little ones were up there because Emily's mama and daddy treated mine just like their own!

From all our kids growing up in the deep south in a history-rich  town nestled on the banks of the Alabama River, in an old historic district which was half revived from the previous century - we retain some of our very best memories!

Our block was filled with families young and old, who actually became a FAMILY! We had babies together. We had the "grandparents" of the block who enjoyed watching our children grow up.  They always had time to listen to the important things that little people had to talk about! We had the other young families scattered up and down the block so every child had several "mothers" looking out for them. We visited in each other's homes and spent many happy hours sitting in rockers on our southern front porches, watching our children playing in side yards. Sometimes we had to break up fusses and disputes and send kids home to cool off.  LOL!  Within hours they were right back together again, the disagreement long forgotten!

We ate meals together. We admired lost teeth, good school work, crafty creations.. of ALL the neighborhood children and not just our own.  We watched the city's huge 4th of July fireworks from the backyard in the neighborhood that had the best view. Elderly Mrs Pope had a sweet spirit and a backyard with a clear view to just over the trees where the fireworks were launched in the city stadium parking lot... just across the creek from our neighborhood. Everyone brought their lawn chair and a cool drink (and mosquito repellant!) and positioned themselves in her backyard to "oooh" and "aaaah" over each brilliant rocket that fired and lit the summer skies - in our sleepy southern small town. Afterwards as we each made our way back to our houses, you could hear the laughter of kids and the conversations of adults, carrying in the slight humid breezes of the  summer night air. And as we stepped onto our porches, we would turn around and wave "GOOD NIGHT! See ya'll tomorrow!" And we would.

All our children came to each other's birthday parties year in and year out. They were usually simple yard parties where games were played... or slip and slide was brought out... simple parties. And those children grew up right before our eyes.. but we didn't notice at the time.  We were living "in the day."

I used to think we were practically poor back in those days, struggling to raise a growing young family. And it was a struggle but now looking back, I see that we were rich. Rich in friendship... rich in playmates... rich in compassionate shoulders to cry upon... rich in generous friends who regularly opened their homes... rich in encouragement when times were hard... rich in laughter and love on a daily basis. We were RICH!! And I didn't even know it! 


Today Emily is married and has two children of her own and lives several states away! Her brothers are married as well. Mr Dan and Miss Yvonne live alone in the big old house now... and in the old neighborhood still. There are no little children running in and out from house to house, begging for cool water and a treat at each stop. There are no longer the "block grandparents" for sadly, they have mostly died.  Our favorite "grandparents" moved. The families grew up; they moved away. The houses in our old block are mostly vacant and run down - worn by time and neglect... perhaps missing the life that used to grace them and keep them strong and sturdy. 

I wonder how often Dan and Yvonne walk out their front door and PAUSE... and see the ghosts of children playing in the side yard.. see the porch rockers swaying slightly in a breeze and recall the hours spent there visiting with friends. I wonder if they look to the left, down the block which used to be vibrant with life - and in their minds conjure again, the sight of neighbors sweeping sidewalks, kids on bikes, on skates, in wagons, on little hot wheels... kids drawing with chalk on the sidewalks... neighbors waving from their front porch and calling out "come on down!" I wonder if they cherish the memories as much as I do!

Hannah FONDLY remembers life in Selma... on the banks of the Alabama River... in the old Historic Riverview neighborhood... where she had a dozen siblings, at least half that many mamas and daddies, and grandparents galore! Every day was fun. Every day was filled with laughter and love. Every day was an adventure with the old historic cemetery to explore behind our back yard, and the creek at the end of the block... and the river just two blocks over... and friends, blessed friends just steps away from our front door.  Those were best times of her life, she said.

Yes they were... and I didn't even know it at the time.

(Merry Christmas Emily!)


The Bean said...

I'm not sure if it's age or children but I am much more emotional and sentimental now. This brought a happy tear to my eye. :) Wish Hannah a Merry Christmas for me and could you email me your address?

Julie said...

You need to write a book! You tell a story and paint a picture with words like no-one else I know! What a gift....when are you going to put pen to paper??????

So how are things there my sweet lil friend? I'm always keen to hear and know so prattle away.

We're having a wonderful time here with our precious family. I added lots of new pics today so wonder by when you have a moment. It's been snowing, and what a beautiful experience that has been. Of course we're viewing it through the eyes of wonder having experienced nothing like it before, and soaking up all the moments and experiences we can.

Depending on the weather/snow etc we may be heading across the NY before Christmas, so I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and all those you love and beautiful Christmas as we celebrate anew the birth of the King Of Kings...Lord of Lords. May your Christmas be touched in a special way this year. Love you lots, treasure our friendship. Ooodles of warm hugs, me xoxoxoox

Kimberly said...

Love reading your stories, they are wonderful!!! What a neat ornament and a great story to remember!

Sue said...

What a beautiful post Lynn! I wish I had lived on your street!! What an amazing example of what God intended for the church!

Stopping in to wish you a blessed Christmas and may God bless you and surprise you with wonderful things in 2009!

Big hugs xo

Julie said...

Hi sweetie, just dropping by to wish you and your family a wonderfully blessed Christmas and the best of everything for 2009.
Warm hugs and love, Julie xx

Susan said...

Merry Christmas Lynn!

Mary said...

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family, Lynn. Each Christmas is a little different isn't it? And yet each one a memory.

God bless you, friend.

Love, Mary

~Pam~ said...

Hi Lynn!
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. :)
I love to read your blog, you write beautifully!

Wishing you a happy and blessed New Year!

Lots of love

Susan said...

Happy New Year Lynn. I hope it is a better year for you. Hugs

Michelle said...

Hi Lynn,

Wishing a Happy New Year!! I pray that you and yours will be abundantly blessed for 2009!!

God Bless & big hugs~Michelle