Back before Christmas, I had been poking through our storage building, looking through boxes of Christmas decorations to decide which ones I wanted to use for the season. In the process of moving boxes around to see what was there, I found this dusty, beat-up, yellowed, plastic file box. The moment I saw it, my heart smiled. I thought I had lost this treasure box!
So, what was the treasure box and what did it contain? It was the remains of a writing course that I took twenty-seven years ago. Within the box were file folders containing my first attempts at writing stories for children. This course was a series of twelve sessions. The first being an introductory story, we had to write off the cuff, about a childhood memory. There were ten other stories and finally a story that was considered ready for publication.
I pulled out the first story that I had written at that time. Again, I smile. I have no idea how I came up with all of this, out of no-where! Since I tend to write about so many childhood memories, I wanted to share it here. Just remember that it was written a long time ago, so don’t be too hard on me. The title of the story was, “The Pool.”
I no longer live in that little neighborhood, but I still drive by where the old swimming pool used to be. It seems like the years roll away to the innocent, carefree days of childhood.
My childhood playmate, Frances, and I were part of the very few girls in, pretty much, a whole neighborhood full of boys. Plus, we were the same age. We tended to entertain ourselves. There was this wonderful old gentleman who spoiled us shamelessly. His name was Nicho Garza. Since his own grandchildren lived far away, he adopted us. He adopted all of us!
I remember one summer. We were still young enough to live in a world of make-believe and dreams. Nicho’s house was one of our favorite meeting places, hopefully in time for a late breakfast or early afternoon snack! We were always fed. After we had been adequately showered with attention, Nicho would entertain us and make sure we stayed out of trouble.
On one memorable day, he took us each by the hand, one on each side, and we headed out for an adventure. We meandered up the dusty alley-way through the rural little neighborhood. We had our own purpose for this particular walk. There was a special place we considered our own. When we got within site of it, we broke free and ran the rest of the way, leaving Nicho on his own those last few steps.
There it was, a great big, huge, inviting swimming pool. There was no one around, so who would know we were borrowing it for a little while? As soon as we got there we dove right in. We did not wait for Nicho. He watched as we frolicked in the pool. He enjoyed watching us and we enjoyed showing off for him.
This was such a goofy, fun, childish time. We swam and swam all around that pool, using all the strokes our young minds could think of. We even invented a few new ones of our own! We would do the breaststroke, the backstroke, we even tried a butterfly. The favorite, by far, was the dog paddle!
We pretended like we were drowning and one would have to rescue the other. We did have to be careful though, because this was a very deep pool. We decided it was not a pool designed for children. We spent a moment in time on that lazy summer day just swimming around like little fish in a pond.
You know, it is really crazy, some of the obscure memories you will store away in your heart to bring with you out of childhood. In reality, our pool was nothing more than the basement of an old house that had long since been torn down and the land cleared off. There wasn’t even any real water! To the eyes of a child though, it was the biggest and best swimming pool that had ever been built. It was a place of special times and wonderful memories, none of which can ever be taken away.
OK, so, officially, I give up on trying to “not look back.” I have found over the past six months, since I have been blogging, that I was looking at “looking back” the wrong way. I must say that it has become one of my favorite pass times and I love looking back…at some things — at memory things.
The memory of that particular day is so vivid in my mind and emotions. Nicho was a large part part of our growing up. He was our Nicho. He was always there and part of the events that made up our lives. He was part of births, family reunions, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries — any special or regular life event. I remember that they had this gargantuan weeping willow tree at the corner of their property. It grew right beside the bridge that went over to our house. During the summer, he could be found sitting there throughout the day, under that sweeping, weeping tree. It could be hot outside, but it was cool under the shade of that massive tree. He was nearly always there when we got off the school bus in the afternoon. A smile and a hug was a good end to our school day.
I just talked to a friend a bit ago because I’d lost memory of when he passed on. I believe it was 1989, and he was ninety-six years young. He truly, truly was a great man and one of those amazing spaces in time that I wish this generation of children had to know, to depend on, to trust, to love and be loved by.
I think God puts extra-special people in our lives to make them richer and fuller. Nicho was from Mexico and he would go back and spend time there occasionally. You can guarantee that every time he did, there would be presents when he came home! He thought of us, even when he was not there. One of my most treasured possessions was a velvety, black sombrero trimmed with silver sparkles!
We were blessed enough that we did not have to go searching for that someone to be there for us and to always have our back. God has also placed Someone in our Christian lives that makes them richer and fuller. The Holy Spirit is there with us every moment of every day. I have found, throughout my life, that I can depend on the Holy Spirit to be there and have my back. I truly wish that people in these trying times would hook back up to that source of strength and security and that they would come to know, to depend on, to trust, to love and be loved by Him.
Yes, I am liking this reliving treasured childhood memories thing! I must confess that I believe I have officially started a new “thing” this week. I have boxes full of journals and I think I am going to step back in time with them, and possibly share some of those times here…as if I don’t already! 😉
“But let all who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice, Let them ever sing for joy;
Because You cover and shelter them, Let those who love Your name be joyful and exult in You.” (Psalm 5:11)