Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Age Two

The new focus of this blog is meant to record my writing process and progress, hoping you will keep me accountable and give me feedback, advice, and encouragement. Ever since I courageously announced that I am writing a book, the response has been surprisingly positive and that keeps me going.
This week God used another means to strengthen my resolve--the weather! We had the bitterest cold temperatures yet. Schools were closed, even Taylor University cancelled classes for two days. I gladly stayed in and had long productive days learning what it takes to be a full-time writer.

 I am writing about that first year in Argentina, 1946. It is tedious work. I read through eight months-worth of weekly letters, researched the background, pulled out pertinent quotes, and attempted to string together a coherent narrative.
I discovered photos that fit perfectly with the dates and events mentioned in the letters and also help to fill in details about the surroundings.
Notice the high walls around our patio - extreme privacy. That was a good thing for me. One day my mother came out and found that I had removed all my clothes except one shoe and one sock. (Perhaps I should not include that photo.)

It was a lovely back yard with abundant flowers, a couple pomegranate trees, a palm tree. One area of the garden was sectioned off with pointed bricks, like so: ^^^^^^^ (you can see them in the background of the photos). These proved to be dangerous for a little two-year-old running after her little chicks. She tripped and fell on one. The gash in her forehead bled profusely. The young parents rushed her to the doctor whose office was attached to the front of the house. How convenient.

For my second birthday Daddy made me a clever desk that could become a chalk board. I don't know what happened to the desk, but the little bench followed us around through the years. Looks like my mother was trying to teach me to print my name.  

Dad made all my toys. I do remember the little red wagon full of blocks seen in this photograph with Margarita, the fourteen-year-old girl who helped my mother both with housework and language practice. The letters tell me that I jabbered on and on with her, but was it Spanish?

I write to explore, discover and connect--discover who I was and connect the different periods that make me who I am.
Madeleine L’Engle said, “I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one and forty-five and … and… and… If we lose any part of ourselves, we are thereby diminished. If I cannot be thirteen and sixty-one simultaneously, part of me has been taken away.”

From the letters, I compiled all the anecdotes about my two-year-old self. Clearly I was exhibiting terrible twos' stubborness. Hopefully I have outgrown the negative behaviors.

I try to recognize characteristics that are constant that make me who I am today. I liked words, picked up language easily, enjoyed books (when I wasn't tearing them up!), had a happy disposition (unless I didn't get my way). 

The numerous stories were intended to help faraway grandparents watch their precious grandchild grow. Nowadays we can see and even talk to our loved ones almost instantaneously over the internet no matter how long the distances may be. On the other hand, how many of those words will be recorded for posterity like mine were?
My current quandary as I write is: which scenes, how many and in what way can I weave them into the narrative. Someone suggested an entire chapter could be dedicated to portraying little Rita, age two.

Enough about me. There was a very interesting paragraph about Mother. Dad wrote in October, 1946:
Kathryn has been doing a lot of oil painting lately. She doesn't say much, but I can tell she would rather do that than most other things around the house. She is making many things such as trees, bushes, walls, and so forth for use on the flannel-graph.

All this is especially meaningful to us now as Mother at age 97 is now once again creating beautiful art. Her activities are very limited. She is in a wheel chair and has lost the use of her voice due to a paralyzed vocal chord. She has slowed down enough to do art again!

That August Mother had asked her parents to purchase two boxes of crayons.  In making backgrounds for flannelboard I use Binney & Smith Crayolas and my box is almost gone. I can't get them here.
I googled those names I had never heard before, and learned the interesting history of the cousins who developed colorful oily chalk. One of the wives came up with the name from two French words - chalk (craie) and oily (oleaginous), thus crayola.

Dad wrote about having a brief case made by the valijero (the suitcase man). It is made excellently--all by hand, with the greatest of care. Cost me 38 pesos, or $9.50. Now I'm glad i didn't get one in the States. Grande, whew! it will hold my whole library. The length and breadth of the thing are the same as the usual brief case, but it is the spread.

I asked my brother to send me a picture of the briefcase that has followed Mother around containing all the important documents. Could this really be the same one, 73 years old by now?

Now, about memorable moments of the week:

Wednesday, on the bitterest dangerously cold afternoon, Cleo was put to rest and buried out in our woodsy pet cemetery.

Saying goodbye to an old friend, age 11

Thursday, was our 49th anniversary. Facebook was one of the first to greet us with a video which I shared. To this day, friends are reacting and commenting; wonderful greetings keep coming in. Interestingly, two of the friends (a mother and son) remembered us living with them in Nurnberg, Germany, when we arrived from our honeymoon. I will have fun researching that historic city when I get to that chapter.

What fun research and discoveries await me this week?


  1. I think a chapter on 2 year old RiTa would be really interesting!

  2. Rita, how fun to come across your blog! I clicked on the comment you left on my Spiritual Memoirs 101 blog and, voila! You are taking on a most worthy project, writing your story. I applaud you! Keep in touch.


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