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  • Writer's pictureKathy Isaac

First Memories

What are some of your first memories? I have a vague early memory of the house my dad built. I was about two when we moved there. My parents lived there for more than fifty years and my sister and her family after that. I remember when the floors were nothing but dusty plywood, and beaded curtains hung on the bedroom door frames. Mom says we had sheets over the doorways, but no beads, yet I remember beads. I'd be interested in knowing if any of the sheets had a beaded motif. I have an even vaguer memory of the old farmhouse we lived in before that. There was a loose brick that my brother would pull away to hide things behind. I still think of that brick each time I pass by the house, and wonder if anyone else has found the treasures hidden behind it.

I recall playing pioneers with our neighbours. We'd take the wagon, fashion a cover and pretend to be horses pulling the covered wagon through the Wild West which was actually only the dead-end street that we lived on. We had strict rules not to leave our street, and we never did. The fear-of-God couldn't hold a candle to the fear-of-our-parents back then. It was a different time for sure.

Grandparents were another thing. I had only one set. My mother's parents had passed long before I was a twinkle in her eye as she gazed lovingly at Dad. My living grandmother, Oma, was gravely ill as long as I could remember. Mom says that black garments were purchased for the whole family even before they'd started dating. Opa had a stern side, but I do remember an Easter egg hunt at their farm. One of my cousins stood crying in the front yard while the others ran in search of the coveted prize. I remember how he gently wiped her tears and held her by the hand as they searched amongst the bushes for a pastel coloured treasure. It was much later in life that I gained a close connection with my grandfather, visiting him often at the senior apartment.

We were always very cautious and quiet around Oma. Her bed was so high, she needed a step stool to get in. She was in there a lot. And teeth soaked in the cup beside her. We spend much of time there in the basement where they raised chicks and perhaps ducklings in the laundry room. They were so soft and cuddly.

Kindergarten is likely my next chronological memory. It was a new classroom. There were two teachers, sisters, who taught two classes separated by a bookshelf. One day, as I was placing the sun on the weather calendar, a call came out for me to see the school nurse. It was immunization day. I also recall a round, pink cardboard birthday cake, draped in icing that was brought out for each child's birthday so that we could blow out candles, and mats on the floor where we rested.

I'd have a hard time confirming any of these fond memories, but still they remain dear to my heart. They remind me that little, seemingly insignificant things can leave a lasting impression. I think about this as I FaceTime with my granddaughter on the other side of the country. I'm naturally a quiet, wallflower but want her to remember me as an engaged gramma.

I think our first impressions of the world play an important role in how we see the world as grown-ups. Mom and Dad were hard workers and always made time to help others. But as young parents, they were unequipped to handle some of the more delicate situations that were thrust upon them.

Grace is a gift from Jesus. It is grace that allows us all to pass through challenging times. He surrounds us. There is power in grace. Power to protect.

Don’t be cruel to any of these little ones! I promise you that their angels are always with my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10

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