Exhausted, nervous and excited, I dozed on the first leg of my travels last Thursday from Dayton OH to White Plains, NY. The second leg I stayed awake, pondering any number of things - almost none that I can recall a week later. Except one.
I realized that thirty-three years ago I sat on a plane, possibly on the same date, for holiday travel. Everything was different that time, first off I was still a child. My stepmother and I were heading from New York City to Phoenix, Arizona. Fran, my stepmother had just birthed my siblings (a set of fraternal twins) about six weeks previously and we were taking them to meet Fran's favorite relatives (and some my favorite relatives as well), Aunt Thelma and Uncle Walter.
I have nothing but fond memories of these folks who treated me as family from first meeting. They had been living in upstate New York State, the Albany area maybe, before moving to warmer climes. Walter was still tall though I suspect he had lost a few inches over the decades, and came across as what I now see as a mid-western country folk kind of man. Aunt Thelma was a very proper but warm woman who had iron gray hair that I saw once undone from the braided bun of daily wear. Her hair was stunningly long and still lush. I tried so hard to copy her evening ritual of brushing her hair a hundred strokes after seeing her mane but at age eight I didn't have the follow through that was required for such things. Their upstate house had a lovely fireplace by which Thelma and I did jigsaw puzzles. Perhaps it was during this visit that Thelma gave me this lovely crochet hook set that had a handle and a number of different hooks sizes that one could screw into the handle. Now with what I know of the fiber arts it is more likely it was a tatting set as the hook sizes were quite tiny. Many years later I let go of that set and have regretted it every time I think of it. It would have been the only thing I had from that lovely woman. I remember eating strawberries at their house, and my mother discovering that she apparently was no longer allergic them, much to her delight.
Somewhere in a photo album that is probably still in a box somewhere in my new home is a photo of Fran and I, each holding a baby. As I recall you cannot really see my face because I am looking down at my sister. Well I think it was my sister as she was the smaller of the babies so it would have made sense to give me the lightweight babe to hold through the journey. I don't remember much of either flight except that I think it went well, meaning no screaming infants for the entire trip. There is another photo that I have from that trip, it is of me standing by Thelma and Walter's tree, which I am pretty sure was artificial, looking awkward. I know that had been trying to finish a a woven fabric green jumper to wear during the trip in my school sewing class in time to wear for this trip but I cannot remember if I did, or if it's what I am wearing in that photograph.
It was there that I ate red snapper for the first time and have loved it ever since. It was also there that I first saw Morgan Fairchild in Search for Tomorrow. I believe her character was in prison when I began watching. It may be the only soap on CBS I ever watched. I remember how it seemed so incongruous for it to be Christmas while it was warm, in a place with no snow and things blooming. Of course even with two moms with advanced degrees in English I didn't think of that word to describe what I was feeling back then.
I think I saw Thelma and Walter only one more time, about four or fives years later, in Brooklyn. Somewhere I have a contact sheet of photos I took with a few shots of Walter, but I fear none of Thelma. I know we went to Central Park, played with "the twins", as they were referred as forever - a habit I am trying to break, in the back yard of the house. Again my portfolio of work from those years is in a box somewhere and I have probably ditched the negatives in an attempt to declutter my life. The memories will always be there it's true, but sometimes a physical reminder is really nice to glance at, especially when it can trigger such warm, happy thoughts.
I hope everyone has had a lovely holiday and created sweet memories to recall randomly in the future.