“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” ~Flora Whittemore
When I was a little girl, probably about 4 years old, my family lived in a duplex in a St. Paul, MN suburb. My parents, my little sister and I. I have many happy memories from our life there. Like the sweet taste of cherry Popcicles. And the swing set in the back yard that would sing to me every time I climbed up onto the swing. Turns out it’s just that the chains holding the swings needed to be oiled. But to me, it was pure magic.
There was a housing development under construction at the edge of our backyard. They had created the greatest hills, all mud of course. My mother had specifically instructed that my sister and I were NOT to go near the hills. Well, of course our pink bouncy ball rolled down the hill, and me being the oldest, decided I had to save that ball. Yup, down I went. Sliding on my behind all the way. The hill was much steeper than it had appeared from the top. And the packed mud was slick. You guessed it, I got the bottom, retrieved the bouncy ball, and couldn’t manage to get back up to the top of the hill without slipping and sliding back down.
Over and over I tried. My little sister started to cry. She was only 3. But she knew I was in trouble. Big trouble.
I suppose my mother saw my little sister standing there at the edge of our backyard, crying her little eyes out. Cause the next time I looked up at the top of the hill, there was my mother. Hands on her hips. She was mad at me and I could see her mouth moving, but I have no idea what she said. (Feel free to improvise.) I know her scolding began with “Barbara Jean…” It always began that way.
Our duplex neighbors were an older couple. Their last name was Tillman. Mrs. Tillman was a nurse and worked at the hospital with my mother. She resembled Aunt Bea from The Andy Griffith Show, but with a nurses hat. Her husband, Mr. Tillman was retired and he loved to garden. Very pretty flowers of all kinds and colors. My sister and I often picked lovely bouquets for our Mom. Mr. Tillman had sort of a grumpy face one day after he put up little wooden stakes and tied white string to the stakes. It went all around the pretty flowers. We couldn’t go smell them anymore. But my sister and I used the white string to hang our doll clothes . We hung them all along the white string around the whole yard. How nice of Mr. Tillman to make us that clothesline.
My favorite part of living in the duplex was that we were so rich. I knew we were rich because we had diamond doorknobs. Just like the ones in the picture.
When I think about my life at 4 years old and the journeys and adventures I’ve had, all of the choices I’ve hade, and the doors I’ve opened and closed. I have to say, it’s been quite a ride so far.
I came through an experimental heart surgery at age 7 with a 30% survival risk. I’ve been healthy ever since. I lived through the dramas of junior high and playing Truth or Dare which lead to my first kiss with Dean Hunter behind the bushes. Years later I made my way through high school crushes and first love, my first job and my first apartment. Then it was opening other bigger doors and getting married and having children.
Just as doors open they also close. I left behind friends and even some family members as I walked through some doors. A couple of times I went through a door that was very hard to get open. Those doors hit me on the backside when I found my way back out. Still.. lesson learned.
So here I am today… still closing doors and opening others. They don’t have diamond doorknobs, but I’ve discovered that I really am rich. I have a rich life filled with blessings. And many more doors ahead of me.