The other night, Terry and I were talking about what a privilege it was, such a rare opportunity, that we could just jump in the car and be someplace as magical as The River in nine hours. Before our kids were born, we used to leave after a full day's work, in my 1983 Park Avenue, fueled by little cokes from a cooler in the back seat, and a Coal Miner's Daughter cassette tape, arriving about 3:00 a.m., to a key under the mat and cookies on the round yellow kitchen table. After David and Micah were born, we packed up that car a couple of times a year, until we gave the car away and bought Mary's van in 1997. The van sat higher up so we could get a better view of the Atachafalaya River from the long, long bridge on I10. We'd crane our necks trying to spot alligators, and once, it paid off. We knew that route so well - the cleanest bathrooms, the gas station with the tiger in a cage (we didn't stop to look - too sad,) competing to spell M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I the fastest as we crossed the tall, arched bridge spanning the river by that name, the billboards advertising the Louisiana casinos, the "counties" changing to "parishes" with French names... David's and Micah's childhoods absolutely wouldn't have been the same without the opportunities Mom and Dad afforded us. There was plenty of quiet time for Micah and David to talk to Mom and Dad and exciting times with their cousins, aunts and uncles. That always meant a lot to me because I have always yearned to spend more time with them, to live closer to them. There's not much water in this part of Texas so David and Micah wouldn't have learned to fish, to drive a boat, to hang on to a ski rope. There was a freedom at The River that we didn't appreciate enough, at the time. Terry didn't have to go to work and he threw himself into spending time with David and Micah. They wouldn't have ever gone to Baudein's or tasted Dad's fresh fish dredged in egg, milk and bread crumbs and pan broiled with lemon, soy, bread crumbs, worchester sauce , and a whole lot of butter, by Mom. Or fresh shrimp. Now I'm really beginning to miss it. And, remember the Mrs. Smith's biscuits? And broiled chicken, canned small peas, and salad, always "eat your salad." And, Dad sitting in the leather chair that Mom bought him when he returned from Vietnam, with an old-fashioned. Good times, those were. Thank goodness for the pictures and the memories they preserve.
We were calling Micah "Bright Stars," after a character she liked in a book, about the time this shot of Dad teaching her card tricks was taken. The name really caught on with Dad and he liked to call her that.
I found this Chatty Cathy doll on Woodlands Online, our version of Craig's List. Is this frightening or what? Did anyone else have this doll? I did. And Nurse Nancy, the one I got in 1st grade, that coughed and whined and complained, "My stomach hurts." The nuns at St. Joseph's got a big kick out of it. Why is it that I got weird dolls and Mary got Madame Alexander dolls? Probably because Mom knew me like a book. I loved those dolls! It didn't even bother me the way their eye lids opened and closed over their blue glass eyes. The most beautiful baby doll I've ever seen belonged to Monica, our next door neighbor. He was made by Zapf, she named him Kevin after a boy in her class. I searched for that doll for so long but they had stopped making them. Now that I think of it, Katie Denton has a Kevin doll, too. I think Mom gave it to her for Christmas. I also remember the brightly colored alarm clock Mom got Caroline when she was little. Shaped like a bird or something. The alarm sound was something unusual, too. I'll have to ask Caroline about that.
But David called her Ca Ca. And he adored her. She and her sisters, our next door neighbors, spent a lot of time at my house when they were little. They moved in when David was almost two - about the age he was in this picture. Monica and her sister, Dana, would come over and March (not normally capitalized but it was an event at our house) to Stars and Stripes forever and other patriotic music, around and around the living room with David. They would come over and play for hours. I was pretty attached to those little girls. I miss them now that they've grown up and moved away. I knew I would.
Monica, all grown up now, is a hair stylist in San Francisco. Very cool, that Monica. And very talented. Micah says she's never had a good haircut except the ones Monica has given her. About a year and a half ago, Terry and I went to SF and I went to Monica's salon (also, very cool. Named Zig Zag.) and she gave me a haircut worth flying to San Francisco for. Everyone in my family adores her. When she comes home to visit her parents, Kaye and Travis, our next door neighbors, we usually get to steal her away for awhile. This shot was taken about four years ago, in my kitchen.