My playground was one hundred acres of overgrown fields that consisted of dandelions and various other types of weeds. I don’t know the names of them and would be remiss if I tried to name them in this blog post because at the time, I had no idea what they were called. But they were a splendid array of colours and many of them were long enough that when I wore shorts, the long yellow weeds scratched at my legs. Another issue is that I would clumsily trip over them. With these impediments in mind, I would most of the time, slowly move across the fields. On the outskirts of the property line, green forests could be seen.
If the fields were not bad enough, on occasion, I would attempt to enter the forest. Very few memories are of the woods because the rare times I did try, I would be blooded from thorns that tore at my bare legs and arms. The woods were gated by hand-holding trees, vines, and shrubs that conspired together and were so tightly intertwined it was difficult to see where one plant ended and another began. I was forbidden from entering by nature. Trespassers would be punished. If there was a secret code or pathway, that would grant me access to enter the hidden realm, no one ever told me.
I daydreamed a lot as a child, and as a writer now, I guess I still do. I would daydream that I was the third person on my favorite show, Voyagers, and would help with the task of setting time right with Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones. (Full disclosure: I had to Google the show for the names of the characters.) I was smart too, just like Jeffrey, and the three of us worked as a team to correct historical timelines.
Penny! Get me a spoon! Grandma said from the garage where she cooked.
I craned my neck and turned to the sound. My finger reached over and flipped the switch of the vacuum cleaner and it hummed to quietness as the motor turned off.
I walked to the drawer that contained over a dozen glistening spoons. I grabbed one. Then I placed it back in the drawer. I doubted myself. Did she want a normal spoon? Or maybe it was a ladle?
Something grandma said to me when I was in the middle of washing her stairs one day, early on in my life, stayed with me forever. The words she said were these: You have to keep a clean house and cook, in order to keep a husband.
I tried to argue and retorted: If I get married, he’ll love me anyways.
I remember her lips turned downwards. She grunted and dismissed my argument.
Penny! Grandma’s impatient voice came again from the kitchen.
I reached into several drawers and scooped up different types of spoons in the hopes that one of them was the right one. I ran in the direction of the garage and Grandma’s impatient voice.
Post-tip from Grandma of: “Keep a clean house and keep a husband”, I decided early on that I would work for myself. I would work hard at school and have a career. If I was able to support myself, there would be no need for a husband.
I disagreed with Grandma on her viewpoint regarding women, and the main role females should play in the world. But my Grandma was born around 1920 (she never knew with absolute certainty her date of birth) lost her mother at two-years-old to tuberculosis, and her father left her with an aunt to be raised. She never saw her father again. At seven years old, my grandmother told me she started to do chores. (It was around seven years old, that I also started to help my grandmother clean her house.) Grandma had old world ideas from, well, the old world.
But she taught me this: WORK HARD.
As for the husband thing, I am married AND I am a VERY delinquent meal-maker. Yet for some reason, my husband sticks around. Grandma and I are different people. While the lesson she hoped to teach me fell on deaf ears, she played a different role in shaping me to become the person I am today.