Bethany was over today with all five of her offspring.
Piano lessons were on the agenda, but, as usual, we got sidetracked by eating and scootering and raspberry-picking and running-around-generally-causing-large-amounts-of-mess-and-chaos.
They are full of vim and vinegar, excited about their impending trip to Texas to visit the other side of the family, getting on each other's nerves already and summer holidays only started a week ago.
Madelyn got up to the table in an unsupervised moment and raided the raspberry bowl. Her clothes were a mess, so Bethany found a dress for her in the spare room.
We sat her on the old rocking chair so that she could rock herself, and it occurred to me as I watched that here was Bethany's baby, wearing a dress that had been smocked for her (Bethany) by one of my aunties, leaning against the same sheepskin that she slept on for the first few months of her life, and rocking on the chair that was used to rock her to sleep.
And in this photo, she looks remarkably like her mom.
Bethany was born nine months and six days after we married.
She was, by the reckoning of the midwife, a little late.
Jeff and I lived in a small, upstairs, one-bedroom apartment in Orange County, California, with no air conditioning. We all left our windows open most of the time. The guy next door was nice and friendly, but had some kind of brain trauma and would often drink himself into a stupor and leave his eight-track tape player going all. night. long. Every time I hear Johnny Mathis, it takes me back to those hot nights when I couldn't sleep and his greatest hits played over.
Oh, hey, let's have a blast from the past, shall we?
We were as poor as church mice, as I have mentioned before. Jeff had several low-paying jobs that year and his VA benefits were slow in coming through. After he lost his first job and the second didn't bring in any income for six weeks, we squandered precious gas money driving to the VA and tried to find out why, after seven months, we still hadn't seen any money. They were very unhelpful and I was so tired and nauseous and pregnant and emotional and I finally just burst into tears. Suddenly, people took notice and they promised us that they would fast-track it. They sent us to the Red Cross, a few floors down, to get some things for the baby. We went home no richer, except for a pink-and-white crocheted blanket that I still have, and some little baby kimonos, but we were more hopeful.
Within a short time, we received all of our back pay, about $1,700, and we felt as rich as Croesus.
Jeff's old room-mate, Tom, had recently married and we were still friends with him and his wife, Kathy. They invited us to dinner one night and Tom showed me the brand new rocking chair that was in the living room.
He invited me to sit on it and try it out.
Oh, no thanks Tom, I don't really like rocking chairs, they are usually very uncomfortable.
He begged and cajoled, but I stood firm. To this day, I don't know why I made such a big deal out of it. He eventually admitted that they had bought it for us so that we could rock the baby.
Crikey, talk about feeling small! I was mortified.
And it was, as it turned out, a very comfortable rocking chair, and we have enjoyed it for over thirty years.
So, if you read this, and know a Tom Zabriskie who used to live in Orange County and is a generous and kind fellow, tell him Jeff and Sue are looking for him.