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PHRAGMENTS FROM PHYLLIS: Wallowing in nostalgia

Phyllis Britt

Phyllis Britt

I took a long walk down memory lane last Saturday. During the pandemic I have slowly worked my way through the closets in the bedrooms in my house. The bad news is that some of the things in those closets have lingered there since my kids left home. (Realize that my youngest went off to college in 2001.)

First, I came across some of the clothing I have saved from my kids’ babyhood. I was reminded that once upon a time I sewed clothing for my kids, and I was a dedicated crafts person. There were little smocked bonnets I made when my girls were infants. I came upon a shirt I monogrammed with Mac’s name to go with an Eton suit (anyone remember these?) I made when my son was 4. I had forgotten about cute little sailor dresses and reversible jumpers with Valentine hearts on one side and Christmas trees on the other. It has been a longer time than I care to recall since I did any of this. My daughters didn’t inherit my penchant for smocked dresses or monograms, so why do it?

Then I came upon Indian Guides vests. All three of my children participated in Indian Guides with their dad. The vests were designed by each kid with an Indian name chosen for him/herself. Cat’s vest was interesting. Her name was Sparkling Rainbow Unicorn. I mention this because Cat’s daughter, Payton, has an inordinate “fear” (read that dislike) of unicorns. I loved Indian Guides, though I guess the name is politically incorrect today. It was a daddy-child thing not unlike Scouts, but for very young children. Each May the group would go on a camp-out. It was supposed to be a family event, but Tom would take the kids so I could spend the weekend sewing our girls’ dance costumes. (Of course, this gave me an excuse to bow out of the camping trip – truly not my thing. In fact, the only time I ever camped was one summer when Tom was a church youth director, and even then we slept on cots in Conestoga wagons, not in a tent.)

In the same box were Cat’s vest and sash from Girl Scouts. It had patches for all the places she had gone and all the things she did while in Scouts. She even had the chance to go to Michigan for a wider op. The January trip included skiing, ice skating, ice fishing, etc. – with the requisite swimsuit photo in the snow. I’m now looking forward to Payton following in her mother’s footsteps – her mom made it through the silver award; I’m hoping Payton will persevere through the prestigious gold award.

There were pictures of Social. Mac danced two years, and Cat and Liz continued through Dance Club. It was fun to look at those photos – my kids were so young, and now have kids of their own who could be in Social.

I found brochures and maps from a trip to Germany. Cat and Liz went on a 5-week excursion with a local German teacher. Liz was so homesick that the teacher called us and said it was the first time in his career he was recommending parents consider bringing their child home ahead of schedule. The pictures reminded me we talked to her and said it would take a couple of days to work out the flight changes. And that was all it took. I think knowing we were willing to bring her home if that was what she wanted was enough to make toughing it OK.

I rediscovered dance programs, a couple of horseback photos and school annuals from elementary through high school.

I ran across a photo I’ve been searching for several months. When Liz started working for Clemson, some of her coworkers were incredulous that she was named Miss South Aiken High. I finally found the crowning photo – a year later, though.

There were soccer photos of all three kids. And swim team photos. They all played rec league soccer and swam from age 7 to age 18 – and Liz played varsity in high school.

There were graduation photos, a couple of copies of diplomas and even an acceptance letter from USC. What made that one ironic is two-fold. Liz applied with an eye toward a biology major, mentioned in the letter – she didn’t go to USC, and she majored in English at College of Charleston. And now, she’s employed by Clemson.

I found untold numbers of stuffed animals (lots of monkeys, Mac and then grandson Cade’s love; raccoons, Liz’s favorite; and Care Bears, preferred by Cat).

And speaking of stuffed animals, I did not realize just how much Scooby-Doo stuff Mac collected. You see, from the time he was in middle school, he looked a lot like Shaggy, so he collected everything from Scooby in a Santa hat to a life-sized Scooby stuffed animal, a Scooby license plate cover, steering wheel cover, tin container, etc.

And then came all the things left from our first grandson’s early life. When he was an infant, he and his mom lived in our house for a time, so what had been Mac’s room became Cade’s nursery. There were tiny onesies, overalls (I love Osh Kosh BGosh), his christening gown, diapers and a diaper stacker – even a baby swaddle.

As I sorted out what to give away (finally) and what I “need” to keep, I was transported back in time to all those moments that mothers (and grandmothers) cherish and try to put out of their mind much of the time. I both miss those days and, in some ways, am glad I’ve moved beyond some of those events.

If you have a closet like this one, take your time with it. I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed “wasting” an afternoon inundated in my life as a mom.

And hey, now I have one more uncluttered closet in my house. It sounds like a win-win to me.

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