Category Archives: Mom and Dad’s love story

Hope Chest Story

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Opening the lid on my mother’s hope chest, I always breathed deeply

of the cedar smell and would close my eyes to really take the breath

in, feeling the memories coming. I used to love to make my parents’

bed and dust in their bedroom. I would go to the foot of the bed and

take the crocheted coverlet off the chest. I would kneel upon my knees,

stretching my arms wide to be ready to support the lid once I opened

it. There are new hope chests that have the protective hinge that won’t

shut a child’s fingers in them. This was an older, almost antique looking

chest, its sides shiny and showing the grain of the wood. The top had a

swirling pattern carved into it. It may have been engraved by an artisan

or may have been produced by a factory. I loved the way it smelled then.

Also, I loved the way the ten different items that I am focusing on, in my

thoughts, meant something. These demonstrated love and sentimental

value in their being kept in this special location, so close to where my

parents slept and held each other through good times and bad.

Beginning from the delicate top layer to the bottom “foundation” layer,

each piece piled upon the next, neatly stacked with white tissue paper

between the layers this contained a lifetime of memories.

1. Pearl seeded cap to hold the veil upon my mother’s head. She sewed

each pearl on the cap and made her veil and dress. She used a pattern

that had Elizabethan cap sleeves, with the point at the wrist and its

length ending at her ankles.

2. Irish lace tablecloth, cream colored. She toured Europe after she

graduated from college, buying exquisite purchases that lasted. She

kept carefully until a fancy dinner would be served. She used her own

money for this trip and her parents gave her a small amount of spending

money.

3. White Christening gown. Tiny flowers with x’s and o’s, lovingly

stitched into the puckers along the neckline. This was worn by my

brothers and I when we were baptized as babies.

4. Hand sewn aprons. The multicolored aprons have primary colors in

them, red, yellow, green and blue. Each one of them has a pocket (or 2)

and my daughters now each have one to use or preserve, as they wish.

5. Lacy crocheted doilies. My grandmother was very good at making

these, along with hand painting cards for Gibson card company.

6. Large English tapestry. There is a shield with a crest on it, from years

gone by. It is burgundy, deep blue and has some golden threads woven

into it.

7. Bright silk sari. Turquoise, tangerine and gold threads are woven into

this silken sari, worn as a dress by my ex-husband’s friend, Kim’s wife,

Sunny. (I wrote about her in a post and brought this home from college

in the 70’s to add to the layers.) It has an intricately designed pattern on

the edges of it.

8. Cross-stitched Alphabet Sampler. This reminds me of those old primers,

but this once had been framed but my mother took it out, saying it was

starting to get ‘sun-damaged’ and was yellowing. She gently washed it in

cold water, re-stretched it out and then ironed it on the unpatterned side.

9. Handkerchiefs. These were from my grandmothers’ (both sides of family)

purses. When I would hold them to my nose, even though they were kept

in the hope chest with cedar wood interior, they held the perfumed scents

of those dear ones. Each had a fine edge rolled up and most had a floral

design, my favorite being, while young, the violets. Now, I have to admit

I think the embroidered roses make me smile since my mother loves them.

10. And, under them all… A West Virginian homemade patchwork quilt.

My parents first trip together was to Tennessee to see a classmate of my

father’s who graduated in engineering at U. of C. While traveling the

back roads down, they got turned around and while “lost” they found

a small local store hidden in the hills of West Virginia. There was more

of a story about the way the people stared at my parents and how they

chuckled when they heard how far off the beaten path they had gone.

The elaborately chosen patchwork quilt had  the wedding rings pattern

carefully sewn into it. The forever entwined, never ending rings would

embody a marriage of almost 44 years.

The quilt became an emblem of their love, never to be unstitched as love

would have it. It held the everlasting meaning or impression upon this

young girl when I would take each layer out of the hope chest, to examine

and sometimes to be found by my mother. She would tell me the meaning

of each layer, reminding me of the time when we were small and how in

the middle of the night we would wake up because of a nightmare.

Mom told me that in our first house together in Sandusky, Ohio, they

had used this as their blanket. She would lift a corner of her sheet with

the blanket on top, allowing us to climb in with Dad and her. We would

eventually calm down, be led back to bed (or carried.)

Tracing my fingers along the stitches in time, I held my breath in awe.

Even while young, I knew there was mysticism and magic in love.

What memories can be found within your family steamer trunk, hope

chest, or Army trunk? If you don’t have those, is there a special drawer

that holds your “valuables that hold memories?”

 

Titillating News from Cleveland, Ohio

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My Mom, warmed up from a visit with my brother, Rich, and a nice

dinner of prime rib, sat in her pajamas and told me a rather exciting

story. She and I had our second juice glass apiece of her favorite wine,

Sangria and I had a blanket wrapped around my legs pulled up to listen.

She said, “Why not title this, ‘What does love have to do with sex?'” She

showed me an article about the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

that got her creative juices flowing and her need to provide ‘fodder’ for

my blog.

Here is my Mom’s recent shared story for one and all!

“I am embarrassed to tell you this, but think it will show that in the ‘olden

days’ we still talked, thought about and engaged in racy behaviors! I was

a teacher in Middletown, Ohio and met a nice man who worked on my

car. He owned and worked in a car service garage. He told me while I was

getting my oil changed that he was saving up to move out to Montana and

own a horse farm. I was very interested in his story, since he was a very nice

and handsome man around my age of 24 years old. He had inherited some

money, had opened a loan at the bank and was doing what he had learned

from his grandfather and father, how to repair and service cars. He asked

me if I wanted to “date” and I gave him my parents’ home phone number.

He was an upstanding citizen who was well known in my small town. I did

not worry about his behavior and knew he would be a fun man to date. At

this time, your father had graduated from UC’s engineering program and

was up in Cleveland, writing letters but I was not engaged.

On our first date, Harry came and picked me up at the door, he met my

parents and shook your grandpa’s hand. He and I headed off to eat at a

local diner and on our way home, he drove to his garage, place of business

and we went into the garage in one of the service areas and got out to get

the garage door pulled down. We sat in his car and made out.”

I stopped her, “On your first date, Mom?!” I used a rather incredulous voice,

since she and my Dad had been very adamant during my high school and

college days, NEVER to kiss on the first dates!”

Her answer was, “Well, Robin, there was no time to waste! I had to decide by

November, when your Dad would come to see me and my parents for our

Thanksgiving meal.”

Hmmm…. different take on my Mom, and wondered for a moment. I still don’t

kiss on any first dates!!

Mom continued, “We did this every Fri. or Sat. once a week from September until

November 15th or through half the month. Each time, we would engage in sexual

escapades above the waist. I will tell you Harry was hairy. But, no below the waist

foreplay or fondlings. We were not making big dates, just simple dinners, no movies

nor plays. I told him I wished we could go to the theater and he said it was too late

in the summer to go to the drive-in.”

I interrupted the flow of her story, to ask her a question, “Why did you feel you wanted

to do this with him? Didn’t it feel weird, weren’t there lights on? Why didn’t you go to

a forest or park?”

Mom looked at me, like I was crazy, “Police would have taken their flashlights and may

have interrupted our nice times of cuddling and it warmed me up a lot.”

She finished this three months of enjoying the pleasure of a handsome man who did

give her some satisfaction, but I pictured his really wanting to go farther, too. I asked,

“Did he ever say, ‘Let’s go to a motel’ or ‘Maybe we could take this farther somewhere

else?'”

Mom again, looking nonplussed, “Why, he knew I was a lady! We would do this for about

an hour, then Harry would take me home. I suppose it did take a lot of restraint on his

part…”

I asked, “Did Dad know you were dating someone while he was far away?”

She answered, “I did not tell him, nor did I ask what he did in his spare time!”

She did finish the story saying that two years later, she was married and expecting me,

her first baby. She was at a public gathering, she is not sure if it was political or one

her parents had invited her and Dad to. The man, Harry, walked in. She said, “I looked

across the room and spied him. He looked back at me, he looked downward at my

expanding belly, I was really showing you then! He walked over and put his hands out

reaching my shoulders. He looked into my eyes, I looked into his eyes. I could see regret

and I felt a little sad, too. Robin, he never said there was a future, he never took it beyond

making out in a car with food beforehand. How would I know he wanted me for something

more permanent?”

This is her story that she thought you would all be fascinated with. I was very interested

but am not sure how it will be received.

I did want to add details about a recent exhibit titled, “Nature’s Mating Games: Beyond

the Birds and the Bees.” It is a shared or joint exhibit with the London Natural History

Museum, being held at Cleveland Museum of Natural History. It is rated “PG-13!” It is

so interesting to read about, I had to share! The language in the exhibit is labeled,

“Frank.” The images are called, “Graphic!” The whole show is an extra $5 and is called,

“provocative!”

One example of wit and humor, “What Does Love Have to Do with Sex?” inspired my

Mom’s recent (above) revelation. It has the juxtaposition of a British firefighter’s helmet

and a pair of steep stiletto-heeled shoes.

Mom’s final remark on the subject, arrived this morning over our breakfast of almond

crusted cinnamon buns, oatmeal with brown sugar, butter and raisins, with a juice

glass of tomato juice and coffee:

“Heavens, Robin! A few glasses of Sangria and I spilled my guts. I just hope you will

tell your fellow bloggers, that I never drank on my dates. I found out from your Dad

that if I had a stiff whiskey sour, I went below the waist!”

Ta-Dah!

There’s a current movie asking what’s your #?

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I am old-fashioned in so many ways. I have been with less than ten

lovers. Actually a little over a handful, if you must know! But there have

been plenty of opportunities. There were times in my high school years,

that I turned boys down, sticking to the respectful ones. My mother,

being a high school teacher, often would promote ‘going on the pill,

just in case…’ but I made it out of high school and all the way to

sophomore year in college.

Thank you very much, Mom, for being so candid and supportive. You

were also against settling down right away, “Explore the world.” I did

not take that advice, either, falling in love on the first day of college.

We don’t always listen to the advice given to us, but later on; the truth

hurts!

My parents were so open minded, I did nothing to rebel, I chose my

crooked path of love and regret some of the choices but never while

in the middle of them!

I have been married 3 times, so I can tell you there was some dating

and looking around over the single years between husbands. I was

pretty careful and although being married more than once is not my

first recommendation, it is the way of serial monogamists, like I was!

I did not fall for the line, “You aren’t a virgin anyway…”

Maybe, hopefully, you can view me with some respect. I don’t want

my readers to feel that I have been sleeping around a lot. I am trying

to relate to a wider audience than my age group and not embarrass

any family members either, who may read this blog!

I admire my mother who was a virgin when she got married. She is

not sure about Dad but she thought he may have had ‘some kind of

experience.’

My Mom thought my Dad was a “punk” when she first met him. This

was the term she would use when telling their love story, too.

Mom recounted recently,

“Bob was this very ‘hyper’ kind of young man, eager to please and he

bugged the heck out of me. Also, he seemed to be everywhere I went,

joining clubs once he found out I was in them!”

On the other hand, my Dad admired my Mom’s spirit and her red,

dripping hair when he spied her on campus on a rainy day without

an umbrella. He always told us her green eyes flashed with energy.

She had enthusiasm while he was observing her from afar, talking to

someone else.

He wanted to know her better. My Dad wanted to ‘court’ my Mom

from the very beginning, but knew it would be a long, patient courtship.

He would use his intelligence and his interest in her to ‘win her over.’

He knew all of this,  just by seeing her several times, while she didn’t

pay any attention to him at all.

There were several famous movie actresses with auburn hair that Mom

reminded Dad of. My Dad loved Maureen O’Hara and Margaret Sullivan.

He wanted to have someone who had passion. At home, my Grandma

O. was very quiet and had had a tough life, she had little passion left in

her.

HIs mother’s passive nature caused my Dad to be attracted to just the

opposite in my mother. His years of hitchhiking to work in a White

Castle in Covington, Kentucky had given him inner strength, drive and

a desire to seek more out of life. My father definitely was the type of

man who “took the bull by its horns” in every aspect of his adult life!

Dad felt she was so lively, intelligent and he admired her “spunk!”

He followed her into clubs and organizations. He would look up to her,

she was four years older than him. And he “wanted her from the day I

saw her!”

Mom was older, both students at University of Cincinnati, in Ohio. She

was in graduate school and he was in the early years of the engineering

co-op program. They knew each other awhile before she viewed him in

a different way. After all, she chose him over a couple of other men who

proposed! (She slightly brags about those men!)

They loved each other and this love lasted throughout their whole marriage.

One week before their 44th anniversary my mother had a sense that she

was going to need to step up their special times together. He had had four

months of ravaging cancer, nothing, chemo nor radiation was slowing

its devastating path. Mom had spent days, feeding him little tiny bites

of tasty food, trying to find something appetizing that would settle and

stick in him.

My Mom found that the calories in Slim Fast with the extra vitamins and

nutrients for dieting was easier to get my father to drink He liked sips of

these “milk shakes” and the variety of flavors are numerous. Just an aside,

a recommendation from a man who would have eaten anything in the

world while he was healthy!

They had eaten an early celebratory anniversary dinner (he had only a

bite or 2 of steak, shrimp cocktail in one of those glass jar/cups, baked

potato and a vegetable bite, too.)

Mom had lifted him up in the kitchen out of his wheelchair, they had

danced and he had shouted at a sports event. While shouting, it burst a

vessel in his lungs, he was spouting blood when Mom ran to the phone.

She told the “911” operator, “Tell the EMT’s that it is my husband that is

needing medical attention. Ignore my appearance, I will have blood all

over me!”

When the EMT’s arrived, she and my Dad were lying intertwined, on the

floor. They both looked like they had gone through a war zone. My sister

in law, God bless her, came and rinsed and rinsed, cleaning the “crime

scene.”

It was a special and quick ending to an enduring love.

I looked to them as an example of a great couple because they had

sparks and passion. They had arguments like you see in black and

white movies, For example these witty combinations: Hepburn/Tracy

and  Burton/Taylor. My parents definitely showed an intellectual

connection, along with their romantic one. They shared a lot and some

of their more relaxed and best times were spent during early fifties

and retirement years.

The hectic years of raising kids, handling professional jobs with

responsibilities and stress were not easy.They traveled a lot with us,

children. Then later, with grandchildren, there were lots of camping and

campfires. They were great role models for them, along with some of

my mother’s students, too.

Their life together reminds me of the  old song,  “Oh, we ain’t got a

barrel of money… travel along, side by side.”

That sums up a bit of their impact on my life and my children’s.

Mom would not be shocked at the discussion of “how many  lovers

have you had?” She never flinched on telling us any and all we needed

to know. The more information about sex they shared the less curious

and the less rebellious she thought we would act. After all, teaching

thirty years of high school, she understood fairly well, teens and their

behaviors!

This post became more than a story about how many lovers have you

had?

It became a recitation of a wondrous love story that unfolded partly

before I was born, but mainly before my brothers’ and my eyes. My

parents “set the bar” high for marriage and lifelong love, in my mind.

They made it “look easy” and sometimes that made it hard for me

to let go of relationships that I thought would turn out better. By loving

someone so hard and so well, I thought it would bring out their best!

This is the “happily ever after” story of my parents, Robert and Rosalie,

along with their three children who were named Randy, Ricky and Robin.

(After the three “R’s” reading, writing and arithmetic!)