Snow is so quiet and unassuming upon it’s arrival. When I looked out my bedroom window, the yard was covered in shades of white. I couldn’t wait to feel the snow’s muffled crunch under my red rubber boots. But the snow wasn’t the only new arrival on 21st Street. A family moved in with kids.
When I stepped outside; I could hear a girl crying. She screamed, ” That’s mine, give it to me !! ” I followed the commotion to find the new kids fighting over a small metal ironing board. He made a sled out of it. She wanted her ironing board back. The girl’s name was Jennifer and she was fighting with her twin brother Jeff. She got the ironing board back and I got my invitation inside for a cup of hot chocolate.
That may have been my first visit to Jennifer’s house but not my last. We’d spend the night at each other’s house. Our moms would step out on their porches to watch our silhouettes dot in and out under the beam of the streetlights, as we’d run down the street to the visiting home.
I’m so grateful that her mom still lives in the same house. Even though it’s Jennifer’s family home, they help keep my family memories alive. Being an only child has a pain that parents don’t understand because most of them had brothers and sisters.
After your parents have passed away, you’ll find yourself sitting around a dinner table telling a funny story to your husband’s family about your dad when you realize, you’re the only one laughing. They’ll politely smile or even chuckle, but it’s in that moment another meaning of being an only child takes hold. Simply put, it’s not having a sibling to talk to about events past and cherished. Oh, you’ll hear tales of Aunt Carol embarrassing Margie to death over and over again and everyone will laugh. Same time next year, you’ll hear the same story and see how it has come full circle. The story rises up like a phoenix bringing the same joyous laughter year after year. It’s then you realize that memories are best played as a team sport but you’re a team of one.
That’s how Jennifer’s family helps me keep some of my family’s memories alive. Just living in the same town has linked us like a kindred DNA cell that’s only present if you lived on 21st St. When I visit Jennifer and her mom, we laugh about childhood memories and talk about my parents. Hearing names like the Hartman kids and old lady Summers becomes my legend that begs to told and retold again.
My parents died seven months apart. So, rekindling memories of my childhood with Jennifer and her mom are the closest thing I have to family. I believe that family is more that blood: it’s years of tribulation and friendship that creates indelible memories that supports, loves and holds us together.
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