When I was a kid we were poor, and my parents were not much for indulgences even if they had been fiscally able to provide them. I took a lot of teasing over my clothes and house, over our car and the knock-off toys i did have, but every Saturday morning I turned on just for fun, and sat and watched in breathless anticipation for some child to stand with their arms wide as you whisked toys up up up into their arms till the toys spill over,
the toys spill over, you did it with such joy and abandon, as though this was actually a normal thing to happen!!! while back in my life not one of those items ever made their way into my arms, I guess they did vicariously, every Saturday morning:> I was never jealous, just in awe - and felt like it was happening to me, each and every time. fyi, when i was about 40, my best friend (who was aware of my HANKERING for an easy bake oven
when I was a kid!) surprised me on my birthday and tracked one down, wrapped it (something my parents never did with gifts, so extra special there!:>), and gave it to me. suffice it to say we spent the better part of that afternoon waiting for the little cake to finally cook as it basked in the rays of the (enclosed) lite bulb, but it was worth the wait! you will be happy to know that my daughter - who is now a college girl!:> - got so much stuff at Christmas and Chanukah that it takes her three hours every xmas morning to open it all, but I guess I learned from the best:> (YOU!:>)
G-d bless, shalom, and thanks:> warmly, Lori Ann
Here is Lori, fifty years later, writing of a childhood deprived of new toys and tenderness, revealing how she sublimated her yearnings into this moment of the show when another child received all this beneficence. And she is not jealous ! She writes that though she never got those gifts—she did so "vicariously” every week. In some way she was able to allay a sense of deprivation with a quasi-reality for herself—and still embraces that.
That she was moved to explore all this, decades later, should remind all of us how profoundly so many things affect a child in those growing-up years. It can be a book or a teacher; a composer or a grandparent; an older sibling or a movie; the point is that we , each of us, need to remember in our dealings with a grandchild, a student who is going through difficult times, a patient —you have the potential to be an influence—to exhibit a sensitivity --to listen carefully and make contact with a child— realize how roundly you affected that young person—even decades later.
After reading this e-mail, I asked Lori about how her life had turned out. This is her second message.
So now you responded to me, and that's one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me!:>
In fact, right after receiving your letter, I said to one of my patients (more on that in a minute), did u ever watch Wonderama? (people tend to remember that better than just for fun, so i used that as an opener:>) and she said, 'SURE! my brother and I used to send them letters wanting to go on the show!' and so I said, 'well GUESS who i got a letter from!' and we both did that girl scream thing u do when u r excited and laughed and shared a super moment:>
OK, so I am a clinical psychologist here at the jersey shore. I got my doctorate in child and family, I had a kind of brutal childhood and i wanted to help people when they were still children, and had the opportunity to heal better! now my practice is all over the place. for a while I worked a lot with veterans (still do to a degree, feel a great deal of gratitude there), and I have a company that provides psychological treatment to seniors in long term facilities, but my practice is really some of E V E R Y thing:> I had a radio show that got syndicated for a bit, and wrote a column that did the same. they were both inspirational, and featured people like the guys from the chicken soup for the soul series, with the intention of uplifting and inspiring hope in those listening, but when my daughter came home 16 years ago, I stopped it to be with her.
I have a daughter who I adopted from Kazakhstan when she was three and I was forty, and she just started college at Dickinson college in Carlisle, P.A. She is, simply, the kindest and gentlest soul on this planet, as well as being not far from the bravest and most intrepid. (I am attaching a picture or three. She plays
soccer, softball, and violin, and while we have had some real challenges that normal humans could not even conceive of, well, here we are:> we are just fine:>
It's funny, when I looked back on your pictures I realize u were - and for 92, ARE - a ridiculously handsome man! you looked like a movie star, of the Clark - Cary variety!! but I guess as a 7 year old I would not have picked up on that! HA
A careening career (as long as it suffices to pay the bills) sounds idyllic to me - u just to stick your thumb into so many tasty pies, and u never got stuck and/bored, I would guess?
allow me to sound like a kid for a minute - I am so terribly glad that you are my friend. what a gift. now I must thank you not once, but twice for the gifts you have given me. please stay strong and in the world for a very long time to come, i need you to be here:> with a huge hug, Lori Ann
I invite my readers to continue the conversation; I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences; especially how some event, teacher, relative, friend ,or song—has played into your lives. Send your stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org