Mrs. H. made the most fabulous pound cake on the planet. I used to beg her to give my Mom the recipe. She always told me that there wasn't any recipe, and she never gave it to us. The cakes, though – she gave us those. I am pretty sure that we got them for Christmas as well as for my birthday; of the latter I am not certain.
Every Christmas we had fresh holly with which to decorate the house. My Mom had an open house on Christmas Eve, and Peggy and A.B. would come to visit and give us a cake and a bag full of fresh-cut holly for the event. I did not enjoy decorating with the holly because I always came away with more than a few scratches, but it looked so nice all over the house.
Mrs. H. took care of me and my brother when we were young. I stayed with her all day, and I remember my brother being there after he got home from school. On the days when school was out and our parents had to work, we would spend the day with her as well. If we were lucky, Mr. H. would be home and we would get to see them both.
Mrs. H. and I would play with her home-made play dough. When my brother was there we would almost always play a game of Aggravation. He loved to play that game with her. I always had the impression that playing Aggravation was their thing; they had formed their bond over that game before I was old enough to remember such things.
Bird-watching was another activity I recall. I believe that blue jays are pesky and mean, and it is from being told so by Mrs. H. as we watched them eat all of the birdseed. Those detestable birds never let any others have any food, and we did not approve.
We would go down to the basement for part of the day. If I remember correctly, the washing machine was down there in its own area. In the living room there was a television, fireplace, and an exercise bike along with some other furniture. I am sure there were other items and maybe even another room, but I don’t have any memory of those.
Mrs. H. would get on her exercise bike and I would tell her where to ride. I distinctly remember telling her that we were going to my Aunt’s house to visit with her and my cousins. Most likely Mrs. H. knew exactly where my Aunt lived, and she just let me tell her whatever I wanted about how to get there. We went up hill and down, around curves and through the streets of town. She would react perfectly to each situation I described; she huffed through the up-hill sections and squealed around the curves. It was one of the best games we played.
Every day we watched The Price Is Right. Bob Barker and his girls would be on the television with all of those products. We would watch people get so excited when they were told to “Come on down”. The reactions were always so varied. There was screaming, crying, cheering, running, shaking, jumping and clapping. Bob always had to calm people down so that they could bid. I was very interested in the final showcase portion of the show. It seemed as if the person who had the chance of winning both showcases always won. They won so much stuff that I could not have cared less about, but they were so overwhelmed and happy that I just knew it must be fabulous. All of those mobile homes seemed to be especially exciting.
The lucky days when Mr. H. was home were not all that different except that he was there with us. Our activities didn't change much. There were plenty of times when I would sit on his lap downstairs while we watched the game shows. A few times I fell asleep right there in his lap.
Sometimes in the winter he would pretend to let me help start the fire. I would help with the kindling and he would put on the starter fluid and there it would be, roaring and warm. I felt so big to be helping him. I don’t remember what I did exactly, but I distinctly remember believing that I was doing a grown-up thing with Mr. H. and that it was only because he trusted me and believed in me that he allowed me to help. Most likely I was just sitting there beside him while he did all the work, but it is the feeling it left me with that counts.
Every Sunday I would seek him out at church. He stood outside with some other men and talked while the rest of us went on in to the sanctuary. He would always take the time to speak with me. I cannot remember if there was a hug or a handshake each time, but there was one or the other and it was a Sunday ritual, one of those things you looked forward to during the week.
I do not know how long Mr. and Mrs. H. looked after me. I think it was a few years, but I am not certain. It may have only seemed that way because I was so young and time seems to be so long when you are young.
I do know that they taught me plenty. I am not talking about the little things that small children need to learn when they are young. My memories of them show me the really important things that they were teaching me without ever saying anything. They taught me the big lessons that cannot be simply explained. I learned joy, trust, comfort, and love from these two people in a very short amount of time.
I can see why my parents trusted them with us. They loved us dearly. I know this because of my memories. I recall these memories because of this ornament. I do not particularly like carousels or shiny gold colored things, but it is amazing what a tiny metal object can hold. The things most dear to us are not always the most obvious. I love this ornament because Peggy and A.B. loved me and I loved them right back.
Not a one of us ever had to say a word.