Early Present

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

By Linda Nidiffer

I received an early Christmas present this week.  It came in over the phone.  It was just a simple conversation but it made me remember vast chunks of my childhood and the memories filled my soul.  Yvonne was my bosom buddy as they used to say.  She was my best friend in a landscape populated by many friends. I always envied her hair and her brothers.  I languished when she went on family vacations or during blizzards when we were snowed in for days and weeks at a time. To be separated from her was like being separated from my own bones.

I met Yvonne in Mrs. Parker’s first grade classroom.  She was the “good” girl and of course, I was not.  We were in the same reading group with my nemesis Jane Gordon.  The three of us were reading well above grade level and loved books.  I think back and realize that Yvonne was probably my intellectual partner and that is why we loved each other fiercely.  We pushed each other to be better students.  There was no competition between us as there was with Jane.  

Yvonne saw Tom’s obituary and wanted to know how I was doing and with her voice she brought back so many memories.  She is married to Henry who was also in our class in first grade and Henry was my “boyfriend”for several years.  He was a dark haired brown eyed handsome kid with a large personality and he thought I was the cutest little (emphasis on little) girl that he had ever seen!  I remember anguishing about whether Henry would give me the best Valentine’s Day card and thereby proclaiming his undying devotion!  He never let me down.  He and Yvonne have been talking about me with fondness and she wanted me to know that I wasn’t alone.  

She reminisced about Mom’s day lilies of all things.  She is an avid gardener and always has day lilies planted in her yard in remembrance of my Mother.  I laughed so hard at that and had to explain.  Mom hated those lilies and tried everything to get rid of them.  One year she had a controlled burn on that patch and they only came back bigger and stronger the following spring.  Then she tried to dig them up but she missed quite a few and the following spring there they were with renewed vigor!  What a fit mom had each and every time when those “damn” lilies reappeared.  How Yvonne and laughed to remember Mom with gardening failures and successes.

It warms my spirit to know that there are two people alive that remember our childhood homes and exploits.  As I navigate the loneliness of widowhood it is precious and sweet to remember the life I had before Tom.  Maybe in those memories I will see my path ahead.  I wonder if Yvonne has an inkling about what her phone call means to me—how evocative it was of days gone by.  I’ll ask her when I phone her in the next couple of weeks.