Monday, July 20, 2009


For me, there are certain memories of my life that stand out like the vibrant colors of a beautiful painting. Some of those memories are of experiences or feelings that I knew at the time that I wanted to keep with me for the rest of my life. The joy and wonder I felt on the birth of each of my children, the happiness that comes with healthy grandchildren, the pride I felt when when my daughters graduated from college and my son graduated from Marine boot camp are just a few examples of memories of "big events" in my life that I cherish and want to keep with me forever. Other memories imbedded themselves into my consciousness for other reasons. Memories of this type include little things: like the smell of the lye soap when my mother and grandmother washed clothes using a wringer-washer and a washtub set up in the kitchen of my grandmother's house, the feel of doing a perfect backflip, or the comfort of a dog sleeping on your feet. The importance of these memories, of the little things, kinda sneaks up on you. You may not know these things are important to you at the time you're experiencing them, but the memory of them becomes critical to you later on.

There are other situations that you know as you experience them that the situation will be "historic" to you and to others, and you deliberately take notice of what is happening, where you are, what you think, and how you feel. People of a certain generation can tell you just what they were doing and how they felt when they learned of President Kennedy's assignation, for example. For a more current example, ask anyone what they were doing on September 11th, 2001, and they can tell you where they were when they heard about the terrorist attacks, what they did when they heard, and the emotions the attack generated.

When I was a young girl we lived in Nevada. My dad was in the military and during the time we lived in Nevada, he went to Vietnam three different times for 6 months each time. I remember a time when he was home; not at work and not in Vietnam. I don't remember why he was home, if it was a weekend or a weekday, but he was there. We had a "TV room" where the family watched our favorite shows (I can honestly say we didn't have more than three channels, and might have had less). Anyway, I vividly recall coming down the hallway from the kitchen and seeing my dad on one knee, tuning in the TV picture (or sound...we had to do that in those days). He was wearing a white, short-sleeve t-shirt and his hair was short, cut in what was called a "flat-top." He looked up at me with a different expression on his face and said, "come here, sis" (he always called me sis). He said, "you need to watch this with me." Now, I don't know if it was my dad's expression, his demeanor, what he said, or if there was something that what was "in the air;" but even though I was just a young girl, I knew right away that this was one of those "historic" occasions that I would remember all my life.

So I sat with my dad and watched grainy, black and white pictures of men walking on the moon for the first time. I remember the darkened room (to see the TV picture better). I remember the warmth of the day (it was Nevada in July and we didn't have air conditioners). I remember that my dad smelled like Old Spice aftershave and he had tears in his eyes when Neil Armstrong took that historic step. I was amazed by the idea of those pictures coming all the way from the moon into our TV box. I was proud that America was the first country to put men on the moon. I was awed by the poetry of Neil Armstrong's announcement about small steps and giant leaps. Most of all I felt loved; because I was there with my dad, his arm was around me, and he wanted to share that special occasion with me.

That was 40 years ago today. A historic day, and a beautiful memory for a young girl to have shared with her dad.


Aunty said...

Sissy, although I don't remember sitting and watching the moon walk with Dad, your description of him at that time brought alot of memories flooding back to me. Memories of Dad being gone, then coming home. Memories of carefree child hood days, playing in the windbreak, the park across the street. Being brave enough to climb to the "crows nest" in the tree across the street that seemed so very high up. Memories of me trying to "fly" from the upstairs window (I did have a cape on after all!) The stables, "itchy-bomb" fights, Mom always there....All the wonderful things that made our childhood great. Thank you for bringing all that innocence back. Love you!

Bag Blog said...

I saw your comment over at AirMan Mom's book group and came over to see your blog.

We were living in NM in 1969. My uncle, whom I mention at AirMan Mom's happended to be with us at the time. He also did three tours in Vietnam. I remember all being crowded around the TV. My uncle had to explain that "simulation" meant that the picture on the TV was not real. I remember that I got antsy and began to wiggle and giggle and got sent from the room. I did get to come back in when Neil Armstrong took his first steps.

Your memories of that day are probably much better than mine are.

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