Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fun and Games, and Memories Galore

Last night Jackie and I went to the home of friends we have known, literally, since we were toddlers. Their names, as kids, were Penny and Judi Cooper. (Their names are still Penny and Judi. Surprised?) Both are married with different last names now, and we're all 50 years older than we were waaaayyyy back then.

Penny has two friends (both of whom are school teachers, as is Penny) and they were at Penny's place, too, last night. Oddly enough, one of these friends, named Maureen, happens to live literally two or three doors down the street from where Jackie and I now live, and she told us last night that she came real close to bringing us cookies when we moved in, but figured we'd consider her "too way out there" if she did that, so she didn't! Isn't that hysterical?!

Needless to say, we all got along just great.

We played Catch Phrase for an hour and talked for at least an hour in between munching snacks and a luscious dessert.

Just before going to Penny's house, Judi, Jackie and I stopped to see her mom, Mary Jane Cooper, who lives two doors down from Penny. Mary Jane was our coach when Jackie and I played baseball as kids. (I wrote a little about Mary Jane last Mother's Day in this blog and she's in one of my books, too. )

Anyway, last night I told Mary Jane I would stop by her house today and bring her copies of my four books, because she said she'd be interested in reading them, since she knew my family and me so well for ten years back in the 50's. So I stopped by there today and took her my books.

Mary Jane and I have a lot in common. We're both environmentalists and animal lovers. She's an Audobon Society member and still teaches birding -- at 85!

I just wanted to be sure to stop by while she's still here (as I suspect she will be for another 10 or 15 years, as great shape as she is still in!) and let her know that every time I have thought about her these oh so many years, my heart has always smiled.

I told her that I don't think kids under eight have many particularly vivid memories -- I certainly don't, unless they involve some kind of trauma, major or minor -- but that my heart has a memory of her that is 100% positive: ebullient, fun, joyful and compassionate. That brought a big smile to her face, and I know it made her heart smile, too, so I'm glad I said it, even though it brought me close to tears to actually bring the words and the emotion out of my heart and up into my mouth.

I remember being on her team. We were the Ponytails. I kept hitting the ball so hard that I broke several wooden bats, and I remember her saying, "We're going to run out of bats if you keep this up!" with a big grin on her face. That was her way of indicating that I was a very strong hitter. She wasn't mad; she was thrilled!

I don't have a lot of rock-solid memories of Mary Jane, but there's one other time I remember VERY well. She found me inner-tubing (ALONE at age seven or so!) in the middle of Spanaway Lake and told me to come back to shore, get my little fanny home, and that she would be calling my mother to tell her about my unsupervised swimming! (Oh, joy!) This incident is mentioned briefly in HARVEST OF MEMORIES in a letter to De within the first 20 pages of the book, which she will find when she reads it real soon. That ought to give her quite a grin!

I listened and learned a lot more about her than I ever knew before. (Kids don't ask questions of their coaches, like "Where you from? When did you move to Washington?"). She moved to Washington from a very small town in Iowa in 1950. She has stayed in touch with Iowa friends all these years but has only been back once, when her kids were teenagers. I think she'll be going back again soon because in the last year or so she hooked up over the phone with a boy she has known since they were six or seven. They were fishing buddies. He has been married for 64 years to the same wife and they call her every Saturday to chat -- have for over a year. His name is Stewart Smith.

As I drove to Mary Jane's this morning, I stopped and took photos of the brick house that Laurel, Jackie and I grew up in. Dad built most of it and he built the koi pond that's out front, too. The place looks so much smaller than it did when we were kids (Duh! We were shorter and smaller then!) but the shrubs that Mom and Dad planted when we were there tower over everything now. I tried to download the photos so I could put them on this blog, but my EasyShare is being recalcitrant at the moment, so I'll have to add them later. Jackie took a photo of Mary Jane and me, too. I'll include that when the hardware is working again.

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