Another peek behind the scenes of what goes on with the Retro Radio Podcast.
Almost three years ago I went home for the last time. I mean, I went back to the home where I grew up. My mom had been in poor health, and we went to visit her in the hospital, while staying in her house.
The first time I walked through the doors, I remember being barely tall enough to stand at the bathroom sink to brush my teeth, with my chin just reaching high enough to clear the sink. There wasn’t much hope in being able to see my face in the mirror looking back at me, not without standing on the toilet seat. Today I’d have to bend my knees a little just to see the lower part of my face to shave. Over the years, the rooms didn’t noticeably shrink. We had often come home for visits, and the perspective managed to shift slowly. With the dire situation as it now was, thoughts of the house brought on long forgotten memories.
The brick house was less than a thousand square feet, but there was a big yard to play in, and a two car garage for storing bikes, toys, and sometimes even a car. My brother and I soon took over a bedroom in the basement, to let the new editions to the family have the upstairs rooms. For most of my childhood days, and when there weren’t any good programs on TV, or chores to do, we spent on the street, riding bikes.
When riding laps around the same neighborhood streets got a little boring, we would set up ramps. A concrete block or two, and a long 2 by 8 plank, and we were flying our bikes over ditches, over rows of soda bottles, or just over chalked lines on the pavement. Once, and only once, a neighbor kid wanted to join the fun. He didn’t have a bike, so he volunteered to lie on the ground and let us jump over him. Hey, it was his idea. We tried to warn him off. On the first run at the ramp, and just as my front wheel approached it, his mom came running out their front door, screaming at me. Imagine that. I knew how far I could jump. Her kid was in no danger. Somehow that logic didn’t work once I got home to find that his mom had already called my mom.
This time, the visit home was different. Mom’s ordeal in the hospital rapidly grew more serious, and the short weekend trip stretched into most of the week. By day, we spent the time at her bedside in the ICU, waiting for her to beat the battle that was raging in her body. At night, we’d go home long enough to freshen up, and try to get some sleep. Days stretched into a few weeks. Barely realizing it, the months changed, and then Summer had slowly changed to Fall.
Memories of growing up in that house were shared: The Christmas when we got the model train set. We ran it on the kitchen table all day, forcing mom to forego making lunch, and we all just ate the candy and stuff from our stockings. She eventually made us take it all down so she could make a proper dinner. Who could forget the time my brother discovered how to climb on top of the garage, or the time we spun my little brother around the big cottonwood tree, until he flew off the tire swing, or the time the dog chased a rabbit through a culvert under the road and got himself stuck. The time frames all blurred together. I couldn’t tell when, or how old I was for most of them.
The house is still there, but mom isn’t with us any longer. The time has come to build new memories, and keep on sharing the old ones.