We recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. A number of messages were read out at the celebration but this one from my eldest daughter would have to take the humor prize. This photo was taken in India in the late 1970’s, much of our children’s childhood recollections here are from that era. Ian
Happy 50th Anniversary!! You made it this far despite having children! As dad used to always say – “everything bad I learned from my kids”. Having 3 kids of my own I completely understand – children ARE evil! Mom, remember when you got mad and cursed me with a child just like me? Well it worked, how did you do that? Is it like the time in the car when you told me to stop doing that without turning around to see what it was? You just magically knew. I couldn’t figure out how you knew what I was doing until you told me you had eyes in the back of your head! I tried to look through your hair and couldn’t find any but you said they were closed so I believed you. Amazing! Between having a magical mother and teaching my dad everything bad I knew I had the best childhood ever!! I have no identity issues either because my mother clearly defined who I was – remember? “Somebody go with dad and Gina stay with me.” I am Somebody!
My earliest memories are when we lived in Sydney for a while and dad taking me to the corner shop for chocolate mousse. I would follow behind you everywhere unfortunately my head was the same height as your backside… Then there was the time when Gina was born and you took me to the hospital to visit mom. I started crying when I saw her she thought I was missing her only to find out that you hadn’t given me lunch. Last but not least, getting me to go to bed by climbing on top of the car and onto the balcony to tap on my window so I would think it was Wee Willie Winkie making sure I was going to bed.
Memories of India, there are so many. Let’s start with dad… dad always came home with something for us after every trip. I usually got books which I LOVED!! Occasionally he would come home with a monkey and once when I was sick he brought me 2 white mice, which I kept in an old fish tank in my room much to mom’s horror. They immediately had 15 tiny babies which grew quickly and had families of their own and were banished to a large cage outside that was so populated that when you opened the door to put in food some would fly out and you couldn’t even tell because there were so many inside! Gina and I used to smuggle the tiny babies inside and make cities with our blocks for them. Sometimes there would be a couple missing when we gathered them up to take them back. I’m sure we must not have counted correctly but we kept that information private from mom nonetheless. Dad used to have a beard (we later called that phase his terrorist beard phase) when he shaved it off Gina cried and wouldn’t go near him for days. He used to give us scooter rides and let us stand in front and honk the tiny and annoying horn the entire ride. He liked to fix up old cars. Our favorite was one that came with a rust hole in the floor so we could drop things down the hole then look back to see what happened. We used to help him fix cars by sitting and keeping our feet on the brake or gas pedal. Once I thought I should honk the horn for fun while he was busy under the hood. Unfortunately it was an air horn from a truck and it caused him to leap so violently that he bashed his head on the hood and was really mad! Ooops! He got me the greatest Christmas present, a go-kart! It was made by someone locally and was the envy of all the kids on the compound. Being a friendly child I invited everyone to ride. One time I invited everyone at the same time – 3 on the bench, three on the back bar, 2 on the front bar and probably a few clinging to the sides. As we sped down the hill the poor thing gave up and broke in half leaving the majority of us behind and giving the 2 on the front an extra exciting ride. Dad was very kind and had it fixed.
Living in India back in the 60’s and 70’s we had no TV and could not buy things like bikes and toys. Mom and Dad had a Barbie house built for us with an elevator. It was tall enough that we could use the slanted roof as a slide which we did until Gina broke her foot. He also built us a cubby house with built-in shelves and table and benches. We would eat all our meals out there in the summers.
Now on to mom, mom had this terribly annoying way of waking you up for school. She would come in and hold your big toe until you got so annoyed/mad/enraged that you were happy to get out of bed. Then there was her famous curried pea soup that would make me cry whenever she made it because I hated it so much. Now that I look back it actually was probably quite good but the horror still lingers. Mom loved to cook and had a bakery that we would ride our bikes to after school. We agonized over what to have as a snack as we were allowed to pick only ONE thing. To this day I am unable to eat donuts as I overdosed on them as a child. Then there was the time she decided to try making granola and had huge trays of granola all over the dining room drying. We had a new kitten, mom walked in as the kitten was carefully burying its business in one of the trays. Yummy kitty litter! We used to tag along with mom on shopping trips. There were a lot of beggars and she would carry food in the car to hand out. Mom never gave money as a lot of the beggars were “owned” and would have to hand over their money. But there was one beggar that was so pathetic outside a restaurant we used to go to that she broke her rule for him. He was severely contorted and just looked so horrible and abused. One day we came out when he wasn’t expecting us and he was standing there talking to some friends looking perfectly normal. As soon as he saw mom he popped his arms out of their sockets and contorted himself up but it was too late. She was furious!!
After our time in India we moved to Singapore where I had attended boarding school. I still appreciate how dad stuck up for me with Mr. “Rubber-butt” the principal of the school there. Dad used to get quite cross with me because I would say things that he couldn’t forget (like Mr. Rubber-butt) which would make him want to laugh in serious moments. Having just moved to Singapore it was time for me to start college. I had picked a school in Northern California but decided the day before that I wasn’t going to go after all. Dad FORCED me to pack and frog marched me to the airport (luckily he had planned on taking me). I cried the entire way to Hong Kong to make him feel bad and then sulked all the way to San Francisco. Guess what dad? – I survived, I had a great time and I still like you.
Mom involved herself in the school my sister attended in Singapore. She was very popular with the kids as she was in charge of the cafeteria and would make them all kinds of special desserts. She was most famous for being in the supermarket the day the Singapore government banned chewing gum from the country. They were busy shoveling it onto the floor and sweeping it away when she found out she filled a basket or two with gum and kept the school kids supplied with contraband. We got a puppy when we moved. He had some issues at the beginning after eating too much candy so Gina and I named him Poopsie. Mom refused to go around calling for a dog called Poopsie, so she called him Pooch. The poor dog must have been very confused having two names.
There are so many more memories I could share. But the gist of it is that you two have given me the best childhood ever!! I have had so many opportunities because of you. I’m not sure everyone can say this but I have had a great life and I owe it all to you and the sacrifices you have made. Happy 50th! I’m sorry I can’t be there with you to celebrate.
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