Tonight is my birthday eve – I will be the big 50 tomorrow, and I have no idea how 50 got here so quickly! I’m sure most of my high school classmates can agree with me that turning 50 in 2020 is…well let’s just say we have all agreed on a do-over in 2021 :). Rather than reflecting on the what-ifs tonight (mainly because I’ve done that for the last year already and it leads to nowhere good), I’ve decided to come up with my 50 best memories. I’m going to try to go in chronological order, but I may have to backtrack a time or two.
What are your earliest memories – it seems that everyone’s started at different ages, and it’s always funny to find out what people remember from their early childhood. Chuck, my husband, remembers lots of things from his early childhood…it always shocks his parents when he recalls things.
My earliest memories come from the house in Woodbridge, VA…we lived there until I was 3 or 4.
1. The house had a huge laundry room in the basement (well huge to a small child). Greg, my brother, and I used to love to play in there, especially in the little nook behind the washer and dryer. There seemed to always be toys in there from what I recall.
2. I had my own bedroom upstairs in this house, and I had the most awesome kitchenette. It was brown – I had a sink and refrigerator and stove.
3. I remember when Aunt Glenys and Uncle EJ came to visit – mainly I just remember being on the swing-set in the backyard with my cousin Dean. His favorite thing to say was Good Lord :). He was always so happy and so much fun – he still is to this day.
4. This is an odd memory to me, but a memory nonetheless. I remember being in the backyard with my brothers playing. They had a basketball goal in the backyard. They had worn out the grass from playing so much, so their court was all dirt. I remember being freaked out because if they kept wearing away the dirt, the devil would pop up….after all, he lived down below. I have no idea how I would come up with that at such a young age.
That’s the gist of what I remember from that house and that time period. We moved to Las Vegas, NV after we sold that house. We lived there until I was 6 (actually had my 7th and favorite birthday to date in the car on the move to LaGrange, NC).
I said this was going to be 50 of my best memories, but I may have to include some that weren’t necessarily my favorites but still left an imprint on my brain.
5. I went to Kindergarten and 1st grade in Las Vegas. I didn’t particularly love school. I was painfully shy. I became friends with a little girl named Carrie in school. We used to walk to each other’s houses. We lived on a military base (in the 70s) – completely safe back then or at least we all thought so.
6. One of my very best friends was named Sheila Evans. We had the best time playing, and she lived right down the street. Sheila’s dad took us ice skating one time (my first time ever). I absolutely loved it!
7. My dad took me outside one night after my bedtime, just the two of us, and we sat on the curb in front of our house and watched fireworks. My daddy was the best! (He’s also the one that gave me permission to go ice skating – see #6).
8. After my dad would come home from work, he would sit in his recliner and have me come take off his cowboy boots. I would straddle his foot and pull with all my might.
9. This isn’t a pleasant memory, but I remember when Elvis died. I remember laying in bed feeling a little scared – what if that happened to someone I loved.
10. Another not so great memory – I was walking down the street by myself minding my business when a great big German Shepherd crossed the road (his owners were in the front yard with him). The dog bit me 4 places on my back. I went screaming home – I’m sure with the owner’s behind me….I don’t remember that part. I just remember my mom driving me to the hospital. I didn’t need stitches from what I recall…just got bandaged and a shot (probably tetanus). I also got a cookie :). To this day I’m scared of large dogs I don’t know…even though I want to adopt every dog I see.
11. My mom had my haircut into a pixie (as you will see in this next picture). I looked like a boy…and most people told my mom what a cute little boy I was…I’m surprised I ever had my hair short again, but truthfully, that’s how I like it the best.
12. Refer back to pic in #11…Greg and I LOVED the ice cream truck. We were both creatures of habit. I always got the snow comb, and I always asked for one with blue in it. I thought that was a special one…little did I know it was just where the colors bled together. Greg always got the orange push up.
13. I can’t remember exactly where this memory took place – it was either VA or NV. Greg (my brother) found a bunch of toys still in their wrappers in my parents’ closet. Naturally, we pulled them all out and began playing with them. We didn’t even think to hide that we found them. We were all excited showing them what we found. My mom’s explanation was that Santa ran out of room on his sleigh so he dropped these off early for them to store. We totally bought it – LOL.
14. We moved to LaGrange NC when I was 7 (as I mentioned, I turned 7 in the car on the move). My dad had retired from the military and was headed back to his roots. My mom was staying in Las Vegas for 6 months to work out her government transfer, so it was just my dad and my 3 brothers (and of course, me). We headed across the country in our green station wagon. On my 7th birthday, my dad bought me a present at every stop (mainly gas stations :)….back then they had good stuff at gas stations. Does anyone remember Stuckey’s? I mainly got little baby dolls. I also got a plastic Big Boy from Big Boys or was it Shoney’s back then…I can’t remember that part. Anyway – it was the best birthday ever. There is nothing like being doted on by your daddy. Every little girl should be lucky enough to experience this.
15. This is one of the memories I am backtracking on…this is another Las Vegas memory. My dad had taken Greg and me to pick up my brothers (or one of them) from school. It seems like they had basketball practice or something…anyway, my dad left Greg and me in the car while he went in. All I remember is being scared that Big Foot was going to come out and get us. Weird how I remember that, and weird that I was afraid Big Foot would kidnap us :).
16. We are back to LaGrange now. My aunt and uncle owned a fabric shop and grocery store in downtown LaGrange. We lived with them when we first moved there. My aunt made all of my clothes for school. She was so sweet. She let me pick out the fabrics and always made me a matching set (pants and shirt).
17. We lived in a house out in the country – down a dirt road. I have so many great memories from this house…I had to ride the school bus, and I HATED it. It seemed like I was the first one picked up and the last to get home. I remember the first time I got on the bus in the morning to go to school looking back at our front door and seeing my dad standing there behind the screen door making sure I made it on safely. He watched the bus until we pulled away, and I watched him until we pulled away. This memory is etched in my mind, and I’m so thankful for it!
18. So those bus rides that I hated…I decided to take matters into my own hands one day. I was in 2nd grade (just to give you a little insight into my crazy mindset – maybe stubborn is a better word or determined????)…anyway, I decided that I knew I could find my way to my aunt’s store downtown which was very close to my school, so I would just walk there and have my cousin Mike (whom I adored) just take me home. I made it to the store just fine, but Mike was working and couldn’t take me home, so he called my dad to come get me. Rutroh…actually, I really didn’t get into big trouble like I should have. I think secretly my dad thought it was funny, however, I knew to NEVER EVER do it again.
19. Same country house…it had the biggest, longest hallway ever (at least it seemed that way to a 7 year old). I used to roller skate down that hallway all the time. I have no idea when I found my love for skating (maybe at the ice rink in Las Vegas), but I still love it.
20. Same country house….one night all of us kids were in my oldest brother’s room (Glen) sitting on his bed just chit chatting away, and I saw a mouse go into my other brother’s room (Barry). I told Barry that I saw a mouse go into his room, but he didn’t believe me (supposedly). When he went to bed that night, he took a machete, a vacuum cleaner, and whatever other tools he could find to use as a weapon. This is when I learned to be afraid of mice!!!!
21. After my mom arrived from Las Vegas, we (well my parents) bought a house in town and we moved. We instantly became friends with all of our neighbors (mostly boys). Greg and I spent many days and nights playing Spotlight, Dukes of Hazard (the neighbor’s house was the Boars Nest), catching lightning bugs, riding our bikes through corn fields and so many other wonderful things.
22. Backtracking again…still in LaGrange, but before my mom had moved there. One of my friends was having a birthday party. Her name was Regina Johnson. She must have given me an invitation with her address on it because we definitely found her house (Glen – my oldest brother – drove me there). My dad had Glen take me to my aunt’s store to get Regina a present. My aunt gave me a pretty glass jar filled with hard candy to take to her. We drove up to Regina’s house and some man came out (her dad), and we told him that we were there for the party. He told us the party had been canceled. Regina came out and I gave her the present. She was so happy that I came. To this day she is my dearest friend :).
23. The house we lived at in town had a great big front porch on it with a swing. The porch was made of concrete. I used to take a radio out there and plug it in and turn it to the classical music station. I would figure skate all over the porch…I even had my moves down to get around the swing. It seems as though I had parties for one a lot…not pity parties…real parties. I definitely entertained myself well!!
24. Our neighbors owned a service station in town. I used to love going down there with them. They would always give us a bottle of cold Mountain Dew out of the boxed refrigerator. I loved growing up in a small town.
25. When we first moved to LaGrange, my dad and my aunt (his sister) took Greg and me to the ocean. This was my first time seeing the ocean, and I was enamored. I still am to this day…any ocean anywhere is my favorite place.
26. When we first moved to NC my dad took us to visit all of the relatives…aunts, uncles, grandparents (his dad as his mom died when we lived in NV). I loved seeing my Auntie (my mom’s only sister). He also took us to visit his Aunt Bernice. I didn’t remember her – I only remembered seeing pictures of her. I was so confused when my dad told me that was Aunt Bernice. I told him it wasn’t her…I found the picture that I recognized on their mantle and said THAT was Aunt Bernice (a much younger Aunt Bernice). I remember my dad thinking that was funny…I’m not sure how he convinced me that it really was Aunt Bernice, but somehow he did.
27. My dad managed a hotel at Topsail Beach in NC for a brief period. I practically lived there that summer (I think it was only one but it may have been two). We had nice living quarters there. I used to go sit in the living room at night and play Barry Manilow loudly and sing from the top of my lungs. I’m sure no one appreciated that, but no one made me shut up. I still love Barry Manilow, and I love that I can remember my love of music from such an early age.
28. That leads me to this memory (backtracking to Vegas). My very first concert was at some Coliseum. We saw Chicago. How is that for an awesome first concert???? I still remember that we all dressed up. I had on my orange Easter dress. I was just dancing in my seat. That was the most exciting thing ever!
29. At the end of 3rd grade at Easter, my dad died of a massive heart attack. I have a string of memories that aren’t particularly good which I’m not going to mention here. His death sent me into a shell…one that took me years to come out of. I am so thankful for him, and I’m so thankful that God used him to show me just what Godly love really is. My dad loved me like no other.
30. My mom used to take Greg and me on random road trips…mostly to SC to visit her family. These trips were never planned. She would just tell us to hop in the car and off we would go…usually getting back the same day very late at night. I loved these trips….I adored getting to spend time alone with my mom on the road. We would always stop for tiny cokes in the bottle and peanuts. We were on one of these trips (always back country roads) when we heard that Reagan was shot. I’ll never forget my mom’s reaction. It scared me, and I was relieved that he didn’t die.
31. I never cared much for school – I really didn’t do very well in school from what I recall. It was somewhere I had to go and that was about it. When I was in 7th grade I had a teacher who will remain nameless…this teacher chastised me in front of the entire class…basically saying I was stupid. Of course I was humiliated…but more than that, I was mad, and I made a resolution at that moment that I would show her who was stupid. From that point on I made straight As. I also graduated 2nd in my high school class. I had to study hard to get there…but it taught me that with hard work and determination, I could overcome anything and be anything I wanted to be.
32. My mom enrolled me in modeling classes when I was 15. I modeled until I was 19…even went to NY to visit agencies. I loved it, and it definitely got me out of my shell. I’m thankful for those days…I learned how to take care of my skin at a young age and also how to have good posture (most of the time :)).
33. I loved anytime when I could be with all of my brothers at the same time (well in high school probably). Glen (my oldest brother) was 17 when my dad died, so he became a father figure to me. I used to go sit in his lap in the recliner at night when he watched TV. He was always the one I ran to when I was upset. He was another special gift from God to me. I don’t know how I would have survived my childhood without him.
34. My cousin, Kris, introduced me to Duran Duran when I was 14ish. I fell in love with John Taylor. I just knew he would would be my husband one day :). My walls were so plastered with posters of them that you couldn’t figure out what color the paint was.
35. My first real boyfriend looked like John Taylor. He worked at the toy store in the mall (K&B I believe). My mom would drop me off at the mall after modeling class, and I would go to the toy store and buy something (“for my brother”). To my surprise, he asked me out. We dated for a year or something close to that. He was 3 years older than me. I was 15 and he was 18. He was the best first boyfriend. He was always a perfect gentleman. I got my heart broken by him, but I’m so thankful for him and totally see how God had his hand on me in that relationship.
36. At the Academic Banquet my senior year in high school, I was named our class Salutatorian. My mom and Glen were there. I was so excited and so proud that my hard work had paid off.
37. At our awards day just before graduation, I had won so many things…not to brag here…I was as shocked as anyone…it was so nice to be recognized for achieving something.
38. I loved High School…I’m sure I had heart breaking moments as everyone did, but I remember those days as fun. I had the best classmates. I loved going to a country high school and growing up in a small town near the coast. I loved being so full of hope.
39. College…whew…I loved my 4 years at ECU. I think somewhere in those 4 years I lost my naivety. I made great friends that I will always cherish. It’s funny how we think we have it so hard in school….then the real world sets in.
40. I moved to Dallas, TX when I was 25 after going through some trying times (trying to keep it positive here). I moved in with my brother, Barry. I loved moving to Dallas. It was scary and exciting. I was definitely a small town girl, so it was a BIG change. My sweet friend, Michelle, flew out to Dallas with me when I first moved to spend time with me there and help me get settled. I don’t think she knows just how much I appreciated that (and just how much I needed it).
41. This is not going to sound positive, but shortly after I moved to TX I was in a car wreck and broke my neck. The trauma of it was not pleasant, but I learned a lot during that time. My brother was the best, and so was his girlfriend (who is now his wife of many years). They really took care of me while I recovered. Barry would wash my hair for me in the sink (I had a halo brace and couldn’t shower). Karen invited me to her mom’s for Christmas. Her family all bought me Christmas presents (even her grandmother) and acted like I should have been there all along. These are sweet things that touch your heart for a lifetime.
42. Those Texas years were some of the best. I learned to Two Step and Jitterbug, and I learned that even at country bars, they took breaks for disco :). Karen (my SIL) and I got together every week to watch Melrose Place. I would always cook dinner (and always included potatoes of some sort – we both loved them). I met a lot of great people there and will always have fond memories of TX.
43. I regress way back to when my father died for this one….I had nightmares and fear after he died. My mom told me I should sleep with a Bible under my pillow. I walked to the drug store and bought a red Bible. I slept with it under my pillow until I was out of high school. I remember my mom being scared after my dad died…this was the first time I remember hearing about the Lord. She told Greg and me that the Good Lord would take care of us. I got saved when I was 10 at a church camp I had gone to with my childhood friend, Angie. The camp was called The Wilds. I stayed active in youth groups and used to walk to church as a child. I know looking back that God always had his hand on me.
44. After years of battling depression I gave my whole life to Jesus when I was 33. I had been running from Him for a long time because I didn’t deem myself worthy of Him after a bad decision I made in college. I had gone to church with Glen and his wife, Eileen this particular day when I was 33. My depression didn’t go away at once, but hope certainly appeared at once, and slowly I became whole again because of the love of Jesus.
45. I had moved to GA when I was 31. I had no intention of staying…was just passing through on my way to NC…or so I thought. I met Chuck (my husband) at church. After lots of bad relationships, I had prayed for God to arrange my marriage. Along came Chuck, and here we are 15 years later.
46. My wedding day will always be one of my favorite memories. We got married on July 23, 2005. It was an outdoor, morning wedding at Lake Hartwell, SC. There was a 0% chance of rain that day…that never happens. I felt the peace and love of God the entire day. I was so happy! It was the perfect wedding for us, and Chuck has been the perfect gift from God for me.
47. When I was in college, I became friends with one of the most fun people ever. Her name is Kim. We used to sing and dance and reenact Grease. We would go to Cubbies for cheesesteaks every week after Biology Lab. She will always be a forever friend that is dear to my heart. She taught me the unconditional love of a friend.
48. When Chuck and I were engaged, I told him every bad, sinful thing I had ever done. I didn’t want the devil to ever be able to use any of that against me in our relationship. Chuck told me none of that mattered and that he loved me – all of me. He taught me the unconditional love of a husband. The impact he has had on my heart is indescribable.
49. I’m grasping at straws here…but how can I not mention all of the animals I have had and loved? I’m not going to name names, but I have loved them all too much as I say.
50. I’ll end on this note…not with a memory but hope for all of the years God has left for me….a hope that I will leave my heart on everything and everyone that I touch…I say my heart because my heart is filled with the love of Jesus, and He has captured my heart for all of time! That would be the greatest gift of all!