PLACES OF THE HEART

And then, good children, there are very special places,

the places of the heart, where our dearest friends and

most beloved family members reside, especially those

who have gone to live in another dimension; they are

there, side by side, with every kitty and puppy you have

ever had

and loved

and cuddled

all of them from your earliest memory, perhaps along with

a pet parakeet or cockatiel (we had one named Clarence) or

even a pet rabbit;

In those places of the heart all of your happiest and fondest

memories of holidays and family get-togethers, birthday

parties and special occasions, such as a first communion or

graduation from grammar school; There, I hope you will find,

your visits to your grandparents and all of the things we did

together, from the time you were all just little kids learning

how to cut hearts out of construction paper or decorate big

tree-shaped, egg-shaped, heart shaped cookies; I hope these

will be your places of the heart, much the same as in my  places

of the heart are my grandparents, my grandmother taking me

shopping downtown or riding on a street car, me sitting on my

grandpa’s knee while we watched grandma making doughnuts,

following grandpa up in his hilly back yard where his grape vines

grew, or my running down to the corner in the afternoon to meet

him when he got off the street car, so I could carry his big, black,

lunchbox home.

In my places of the heart I remember my grandmother making strudel

dough and deftly she lifted the tablecloth to make the dough

stretched over it roll over and over until it could be transferred

to a large baking pan, where it was baked until the crust was

flaky and golden brown. I see her, still, in my memory, wearing a

long white nightgown that reached the floor to sleep in, and I have

a memory of my grandfather, sick in bed, never to recover–but

my grandparents presented me, that Christmas, with a baby doll

that I named “Susan” after my grandmother.  My grandfather passed

away the following February.

And I remember the bubble lights on my grandparents’ Christmas

tree.  No one else had bubble lights.

In my places of the heart are my parents and my mother turning me

loose in the kitchen when I was only eight or nine years old–my

mother never discouraged any of us from trying to achieve

something. I signed up for tryouts for a Paul Whiteman contest, and

although I could barely play the piano, my mother took me to the

place downtown where the tryouts were being held.    We saw the

girl who had a black and white tails costume tap dance and sing

“Downtown Strutters Ball” and were not surprised when we saw her

on television sometime later on, having won the competition.   It

didn’t occur to me until years later that my mother never discouraged

me from trying something, even though I was a beginner piano

player.

In my places of the heart, is a once-a-year trip to Coney Island where,

when I was very little, we took a boat ride up the river to the

amusement park, but later on my mother took us in the car and we

knew we were getting close when we crossed the “humming bridge”.

We always went on Findlay Market day so that my mother could get

ride tickets for the least amount of money, purchased in advance.

Grandma sat with all the food at a picnic table and waited for us to

come back to eat.  There were games and races on Findlay Market

Day and it was a point of pride for all of us to win in our age group.

There are hundreds of memories in my places of the heart, along with

more recent events, especially births of grandchildren and witnessing

their growth from babies to toddlers to young adults.  The most

remarkable thing about places of the heart is that there is room for

everything; the space is unlimited in your places of the heart; they

belong to you and are yours to keep and cherish.

Sandra Lee smith

Originally posted March 23, 2010

Updated August 7, 2018

 

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