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Hugs From My Heart
By T.S. Kuginskie
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 T.S. Kuginskie
All rights reserved.
"This book is for all of you 'adults' out there who spend your entire day taking care of everyone else. For this little while, let the years and the responsibility fall away and give yourself over to being a child again.
It's time for bed, Little One ... climb in between the flannel sheets and give me a hug. Let me kiss your forehead and tuck your covers in around you so you can't kick them off, as you so often do in the night. Close your beautiful eyes. Would you like me to read you a story, or maybe sing you a lullaby? Oops, too late, I think you just slipped off into dreamland! I'm going to sit here for a few minutes just listening to you breathe, and thinking about how very much I love you, and how lucky I am to have you in my world, if that's alright.
Good night, sleep tight, have the sweetest of dreams and a wonderful tomorrow, my precious child. Tonight, I am in charge and you are safe in my heart. XO~"
* * *
MANY years ago, I was visiting with my maternal Grandfather when he began to tell me one of those stories with a 'moral' we old people are inclined to relate to you youngsters. "Gramps," I said, as gently as possible with the impatience of youth, "this is the third time you've told me that story and I'm getting awfully tired of hearing it." He looked at me, smiled, and said, "Yes, and I wish you'd get the point, because I'm getting awfully tired of telling it." Think about that the next time you're visiting with an elder, or when I repeat a story!!!
* * *
I truly believe I was born at the perfect time for being a kid and, quite possibly, the perfect place.—rural Michigan in 1948. WWII was over, the country had begun to recover a bit from the shortages of that time, and the real horrors of what had transpired—and reality of what we'd avoided—hadn't really set in. There was a feeling of pride that we'd won that terrible battle, hopefulness that it could never happen again, innocence that allowed us to accept that as truth, and a short pause before the Korean Conflict would force us, once again, to confront the realities of what it means to be a human in a world where humanity is something one can never take for granted.
* * *
Becoming parents started early in generations past, and the only training came from one's own parents and grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and so on. It was a bit of a hit and miss affair, sometimes good and sometimes less so, but it turned out alright more often than not. I think it was due to the presence of the extended family that most disasters were avoided, a luxury not afforded to many of today's young parents. Fortunately, many are waiting until age and experience provide the necessary maturity previously available through our elders, so it probably works out in the end.
I mention this only because my history has many incidences of very young parents, and I don't want to give an impression that I underestimate the seriousness of the role. I've always suspected that Daddy and Mum were often terrified, but persistently played the part of parents until it became real and second nature to them. While I remain in awe of both of them for this feat, I have to admit Daddy was more successful than Mum in the long run!!
I think I'm fairly solid in my maturity but I, too, am capable of moments (and longer) where I find the need to fall back on playacting. All I can do is assure you I'll always try to be an adult to your child, my precious one, and I'll always be here for you. Now hop into bed, close your eyes and drift off to sleep. Tomorrow is waiting for you!
* * *
Daddy and Mum were, respectively, 24 and 28 the year I was born and, to put things in perspective, I was their sixth child. They'd lost the first-born, a son, before my eldest sister had been born, and the rest of us just came along, regular as clockwork, over the next seven years. I sometimes think the fact that I was the last was attributable to the trouble I caused them, but, though it seemed a clear pattern in retrospect, they never gave a hint that they felt that way!
The day before Mum went into labor, a winter storm swept through, depositing thick ice across the entire area. Mum would tell me, later, that she'd made up her mind to have me at home, the only one of us not born in a hospital, but it could have just been that, after five previous births, she misjudged the timing. At any rate, Mother Nature clinched the deal by making driving an extremely iffy proposition and no one argued that she should try to make it to the hospital thirty miles away over glassy roads. That didn't mean they were going to eschew the assistance of a doctor, however, and it was Daddy's job to fetch him from town.
Our car was, I was told, an aged Model-A Ford (or maybe a Model-T) which, quite frankly, was probably extremely fortunate. They were the workhorses of the automobiles, sure-footed mules that could manage on roads today's cars could never negotiate, in the hands of a good driver, and Daddy was certainly that. He cranked up the engine, hopped in and putted away down the icy road. At some point he'd ended up in the ditch, the car on it's side, which didn't faze him for long. He righted it, got back on the road, retrieved the doctor from town, and made it back to the farmhouse in time for my appearance.
This is the version Daddy told me some 50 years later when I went home for a visit. I found it quite interesting that Mum had always told me it had been a beautiful, spring-like day when I was born, so I Googled the weather for the day and discovered Daddy's memory was right on. Either Mum's memory was faulty, or she was remembering metaphorically!
* * *
My earliest memory that didn't require input from someone else for total recall, must have been when I was younger than eight months. Though I can't be absolutely certain of my exact age. I base the estimate on the fact that I was walking at eight months and, in this memory, I couldn't walk yet. The fact that I was thinking in concepts—pictures—instead of words confirms the early age.
In the memory, I'm sitting under a table we used to have in our kitchen, and I'm surrounded by human legs. I'm hungry, but I know Mum won't feed me until the visitors are gone, and I want them gone. The impression (mental picture) I always worked with in this memory is that Mum breastfed me and that's why I had to wait, but there's an interesting twist to this. I asked Mum about the incident and she said she'd never breastfed me, so I thought it must have been a false memory. Years later I was talking with my sister Barb about it and she was adamant that Mum had breastfed me for six or seven months before I was switched over to pureed food and the '40s equivalent of a sippy cup. I have no idea why Mum would 'disremember' but, apparently, she did!! Perhaps I bit her at some point and she didn't want to remember!!
Now it's time to tuck you into bed. Give me a hug and get a kiss, and let me pull the covers up to your chin. Close your eyes now. I wish you healing sleep, exciting dreams, and a tomorrow that welcomes remembering! I'll never forget anything about you, my precious child, because I love you that much! XO~
* * *
I've always loved the full moon. When I was little, my Mum used to lie on the grass with me and we'd look up at the moon and she'd tell me how, someday, people would go there and that she wanted to be one of them. I thought that I could just walk the path of moonlight all the way up until I was there. As I got older, I'd wander the woods at night, following the silver moonbeams down the dirt roads, listening to the owls hooting and the rustling of the night creatures in the bushes, feeling so much at peace, happy to my core.
Nowadays, I just open my curtains and let the liquid silver pour across my bedroom floor and, as I'm drifting off to sleep, imagine that I'm, once again, setting my feet on the moonbeam path toward great adventures. As Daddy used to say—I'm moonstruck!!
Goodnight everyone—want to come with me on a moonbeam dream tonight? I'd love to have your company! XO~
* * *
When I was maybe two years old, we lived way out in the country. Our nearest neighbor was an old man whose house was clearly visible on the next hill, with a strip of trees between our house and his. He was a nice old man, but very fragile, and Mum used to go over to help him with his daily needs.
One overcast morning we were at breakfast and Mum looked outside to see if the rain had stopped. We heard a gasp and all ran to her side to look out the window to see what concerned her. Across the woods, the little house on the hill was bathed in sunlight—a shaft of yellow, burning through the clouds, spotlighted the old man's house. It was one of those sights that make many think of miracles. Mum wasn't religious but she was incredibly superstitious, and she voiced her thoughts. "He's dead." And she walked out the door and through the trees to the old man's house.
He was, of course, dead, and for years I felt there was some mystery to the event, until I realized that it wasn't uncommon to see that phenomenon. The fact that it did spotlight the house, that he was, in fact, dead, made it interesting, but to have been a miracle in my mind would have required that it happen in time for Mum to save his life. I've always been a skeptic!!
I wish you a wondrous day full of events that could be interpreted as miracles, because, quite frankly, it's the inexplicable that makes life fun!! And I'll just be here loving you!
* * *
Every summer the 'pickers' would come to help all the farmers around harvest the beans. There were several 'cabins' in the trees between our house and the bean fields, where the pickers and their families stayed, and I used to spend the days there while the older kids went to the fields.
The pickers were African-American (I think that's the pc term preferred today) but all I knew was that the woman who stayed in the camp and took care of us little ones was a wonderful cook (the skillet bread ... oh, my goodness!) and gave the best hugs. I loved being there so much. I often marveled at the different shades of skin color, but I really tan easily and get quite dark, so I kind of attributed it to the sun. I was darker than some and lighter than some and it made all the sense in the world that someone who followed the harvest, spending long days in the sun, would just get more and more tanned. Maybe if we'd all just let the babies provide the explanations, there'd be a lot less nonsense.
I hope your dreams are full of innocence, and your tomorrow holds beauty and happiness. Love you!! XO~
* * *
Every year in December Mum and sister Barb would cut pine boughs, which they made into wreaths, for extra money for Christmas. I remember it being so cold, they'd be all bundled up in heavy coats, scarves, and the mittens Mum always knitted for us each year, and still their noses and cheeks would be bright red. I'd poke around in the snow until I got tired, or too cold, and Mum would wrap me in a blanket and put me under a big pine tree so I could sleep.
In the deep woods in Michigan, when snow weighs down the branches on the huge pines, they swoop downward, forming a closed-in space that neither wind nor sound can penetrate and there I'd be, snug as a bug in a rug, until time to go home. To this day the smell of pine makes me feel safe, secure, and drowsy!
Sleep tight everyone, sweet dreams, and look for the wonder in the world. It's all around us. You are loved! XO~
* * *
Having visitors was always a big event for us when I was young, and having strangers come was monumental. It brought all of us kids from wherever we'd been, to as near as we dared. For me, that meant hiding behind Mum, peeking around her to catch a quick glimpse of whoever had come and ducking back as soon as I made eye contact. My brother hid under the table, never coming out at all.
One year, when I was maybe two years old (that would have made Ron four) the census-taker came to the house and sat down at the huge round table with Mum to fill out her forms. Everything was going well when, suddenly, the census-taker gave a little jump. Her eyes opened very wide and she squirmed around a bit. After a second or two, I saw her give a confused little smile and, with a slight shake of her head, she pulled the form back toward her and got back to work. Several more minutes went by before she went through an identical reenactment of her previous behavior, this time preceded by a tiny squeal. Again the rueful shake of her head, and moue, and back to work. The third time, however, was too much for her—she pushed her chair back with a loud scraping sound and leapt to her feet. Bending down, she grasped the tablecloth in her hand and pulled it up to peer beneath the table.
Her look of anger turned to astonishment, then amusement, as she saw my brother, sitting on one of the claw feet of the table support column, blinking up at her in the sudden light. Between giggles of relief, she told my mother that Ron (who'd never seen nylon stockings before) had been running his hands up and down her nylon-clad calves. We were both sent outside while she and Mum finished filling out the census forms, and I expect Mum and Daddy had a good laugh about the incident when he got home that night. I hope the census-taker had an uneventful rest of her route.
Good night, sweet dreams await, and tomorrow holds the promise of a perfect day! You are loved! XO~"
* * *
A big treat for us when we were young was a night at the Drive In Movies. They were, in fact, the only movies we ever went to because you paid by the car instead of individually and, with a family that numbered at least seven (five of us kids and always a cousin or more, plus Mum and Daddy) there was no way we could afford a theatre!
One night, when I was about three years old, we'd gone to the Drive In in two vehicles, a passenger car and Daddy's red semi-truck cab (he hauled logs in those days). I can't remember who was driving the car with all us kids in it, but Daddy and Mum were in the truck. At intermission, I decided I was going to go to the truck which, with the bright lights of the concession stand illuminating everything, was just visible a few rows over. Well, I got part way to the truck when the lights went out. I was immediately disoriented but continued to wander this way and that, convinced I was going in the right direction until finally fear got the better of me. I sat down behind a car and began to wail at the top of my very impressive lungs.
I assure you it didn't take long for the man to get out of the car and come back to get me. Let me explain here that I was a true tomboy back then—in fact I was pretty much convinced that I could change into a boy if I just refused to be a girl. My hair was cut very short and I insisted on being called Tommy. He asked me my name, what I was doing and, when I told him my name was Tommy and I was looking for my Daddy's 'big red truck' he said, with a smile—and I swear his exact words were—"Well, that shouldn't be too hard to find." It wasn't. Within minutes we were standing at the open passenger-side window of the semi, looking at my mother.
Before I could say anything, he asked, "Is this your little boy?" I've never been sure if Mum was joking or if it was just too dark to see who it was in that stranger's arms, but her response—"No, that isn't my little boy."—stunned me into momentary silence. As the man apologized and began to turn away, I shrieked, "I AM TOO!!!" and launched myself from his arms and through the open window.
I can still recall the myriad of emotions I went through that night-talk about abandonment issues!! This is very long but I gave you last night off so bear with me!!
I love you all and I promise I'll never deny that you're MINE!! Sleep well, have sweet dreams, race headlong into tomorrow! XO~
* * *
We lived way out in the country, far from town, but we did have a little general store just down the road where we could get basic supplies. When I was really small I used to beg Mum to let me go to the store by myself, assuring her that I'd "... walk in the bitch." Once I was old enough I always loved being sent there, even in the summer when the grasshoppers would jump up and cling to my clothes with their raspy legs. I hated the feeling of them on my skin, and you had to be really careful not to squish them when you brushed them off or you'd get 'tobacco stains' on your clothes.
Excerpted from Hugs From My Heart by T.S. Kuginskie. Copyright © 2014 T.S. Kuginskie. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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