Jackie tells of the many adventures and emotions of a little girl growing up in a large family in the fifties.
This is a very emotional time for Katie. She must deal with feelings that seem too big for her heart. No one can help her, of course, this is just life, the way things must be. She never shares these feelings with anyone. Everyone is so busy they have not even wondered how she feels. She is a big girl though and can take care of herself.
Still, she wonders how she can ever really say goodbye.
Katie’s grandparents on her dad’s side moved just above them and across the highway before Katie’s family moved away to the north cold country, from their small farm.
Katie only went there once, but being a highway to cross she would not be allowed a free run as she was to her grandparents on her mom’s side. She was just closer to them and in fact, spent so much time with them that she felt closer to them than her own parents. They had more time to talk to her and her grandmother often bought her small gifts besides the nice dresses she got for her on holidays.
Her mom was expecting another baby and there were two brothers younger than Katie that her mom was always doing for so she didn’t mind if she stayed busy all day in trusted hands. She was five and everyone said she looked just like Shirley Temple. She didn’t know who that was but everyone smiled when they said it.
Her favorite aunt (her mother's youngest sister) had moved away to Ohio to work but her aunt’s best friend would still come and take Katie to her house above her grandparents to make her pose and take pictures. Her grandmother bought her very beautiful dresses with ruffles and this friend taking the pictures showed her how to put her hands on her hips and smile making dimples.
She had to take the dresses off after the pictures and wear play clothes. Sometimes her uncles would take her out in their small boat in the river and that always meant getting wet; while they fought and splashed water. Sometimes they would even turn the boat over and would make Katie promise not to tell because Katie could not swim yet, but one of them would grab her and she had no fear they would let her drown! She rarely wore dresses except to go somewhere or have pictures made. That was enough for her. You couldn’t play in dresses, just stand or sit quietly. That was sure no fun.
Brother's Dog Had a Leaky Mouth
Katie spent many days gone all day until suppertime. Once she got home and ate supper and got ready for bed the day was over. They had no television and there was nothing more to do but go to sleep until morning.
She had more memories from her grandparent’s house than her own at this age. Their animals at home were so far away from the house that unless Katie's mom took her with her she never got to see them for she was not allowed to go on her own. She did get to see tiny baby pigs one time and she wanted one so bad but of course she couldn't have one.
The only thing to pet was her older brother's big dog and his mouth always leaked. Katie would pet him quickly sometimes like pat his head, if he came asking for petting, but she just couldn't do any more than that. She tried to not hurt his feelings so she never refused him at least a pat since he seemed to like her so much, wagging his tail.
Her grandmother had her chickens in a pen Katie walked by on the way to her house so she could stop and look at them and the geese just ran around the yard. Naturally, she was not allowed to pet any of those either but at least she could watch them run around and eat and play and sometimes fight.
She was happy enough right up until she found out they had to leave for her dad’s new job. She wasn’t sad yet because she was still having fun every day of her life but there were times when things got quiet or someone brought up the move and her mind did not know what to picture. This was all she knew right here. She did not want these days to end.
Animal Off to Themselves
A Grandparent's Love
Things were better at home since her older brother had his favorite grandparents up across the road. He had chores at home he did but he still helped his grandpa with his.
The cows grazed in a field across the road and up on the mountainside and that was a big job taking them there every morning before school and getting them home in the evenings. Then he helped grandpa with his garden and all he had to do. He was old but he was very stout and spry but still, he was not as able to do what needed to be done as he once was. He would sorely miss this grandson once he was gone. Grandma could do nothing anymore so he had to do it all but except for some occasional help, he managed.
More than that he had become attached to this grandson being like his own son while his true son was gone to fight. Since he could walk this boy had been on his heels and helping all he could. The grandpa had just taken to him so much but he understood a child could not just leave their family but seeing him every summer would be much to look forward to. They would not lose him completely.
That grandma stayed in bed all the time and she didn’t seem much bigger than Katie. Only once did she remember seeing her out of bed and she wasn’t much taller at all and she took her bun down that she kept pinned up in the back and hair hung in a wad on the floor. It had never in all her life been cut!
Preparing to Move Away
With her oldest brother home now she never heard her dad fussing in the evening when she came home. Now, this brother would have to leave to go north with the family and he would only get to spend summers with these grandparents.
He had started school when he was five but Katie would be six before she started. This brother was very smart and he would graduate when he was sixteen. That wasn’t far off either her mom said.
Dad had found them a house where his new job was and soon they had to say their goodbyes to everyone. Her brother was sad she could tell and she rarely saw him at all. That last day he took her below their house to the river and it wasn’t nice like behind her grandparent’s house where she could wade and dog paddle and it was not open and sunny there.
When they went back home the car was all packed up and the house was empty. How could it be time to go so suddenly? She had no idea it was today they would be leaving! That must be why her brother took her away from the house while they packed everything into the car.
Her brother put her in the back seat with their sister and two baby brothers and he got in the front with her mom and dad. Katie got on her knees to look out the back as her dad pulled out. She wanted to ask if she could run and say goodbye to her grandparents and uncles but she knew the answer. It was time to go.
They passed by her grandparent’s long driveway but their house or front porch could not be seen from here. As they moved farther down the road Katie felt really funny, like her heart pulling, trying to stay.
© 2017 Jackie Lynnley