Writing Me is Bigger Picture Blogs series of writing exercises created to help our community dive deeper into writing, grow creatively, and learn about ourselves and each other. This quarter we are writing from the prompt “I Remember…” and each week we will feature one of our community members.
This week’s post comes to us from May.
They Loved Me Into Being
In 1997 Fred Rogers accepted a daytime Emmy declaring “all of us have special ones who have loved us into being”. He urged the audience to take ten seconds to remember who had nurtured and encouraged them to become the people they had grown to be. Because my life has been truly blessed, it is hard to fit all those people into ten seconds, but I do remember. I remember Hill City, Kansas in the 1960s and 70s. I remember the Warners and the Gansels and other parents of friends who loved and guided me.
Marvin and Wanda Warner were two of the warmest people I ever knew. Wanda nurtured by baking the most amazing things; she fed bodies while nourishing souls with genuine interest and encouragement as we told her stories around her dining room table. Marvin, who insisted on calling me Puny following a bout with mononucleosis, never failed to greet me with a luminous smile that involved his entire face. Both are gone now, but I remember. Knowing them changed me for the better.
Bert and Mary Ann Gansel are still living in their house on West Street where I spent a good deal of time growing up. They were at my mother’s funeral this spring, as kind and decent as ever. As we talked, the years melted away and I remembered clearly all their friendship had meant to me.
On a February day most likely in 1968, Mary Ann picked a bunch of us up at school; we were packed into the family car and headed to my friend Jean’s birthday party. I was in the back on the driver’s side overwhelmed by the excitement as we pulled away from the elementary school. I don’t remember my own birthday a week earlier, but I remember the low, deliberate pace of Mary Ann’s voice, a reassuring calm for an introverted child in a car loaded with exuberant little party-goers.
In high school, we girls were members of a service organization and held positions on the officers’ cabinet. Our business meetings were conducted in the officer’s homes with our mothers serving the entire group dinner. I remember Mary Ann made chop suey when we met at Jean’s. I can’t recall what office I held, but I do remember thinking Mary Ann was very bold to serve chop suey to a group of small town teens who had been raised on meat and potatoes.
Each Easter Jean got to ask a friend to travel to the family cabin in Colorado for a long weekend get away that culminated with an Easter sunrise service in the mountains. When it was my turn to join them, I remember that Bert and Mary Ann made me feel like there was no one in the world they would have rather had along on that trip. We hiked mountain trails and waded in a crystal-clear frigid stream. We ate ice cream sundaes at a soda shop and teased Jean relentlessly for swooning over an unkempt, ragged looking man we had passed on the way inside. She was convinced he bore a striking resemblance to Robert Redford, and we laughed hysterically each time she asserted this fact. I don’t remember the sunrise service on a mountain in the Rockies, but I do remember feeling like I was on top of the world.
So many years have passed. I hardly remember the young girl they knew. That uncertain, shy girl grew more confident and mature with time and experience having been shaped along the way by the Warners and the Gansels and others I have had the great good fortune to know in my lifetime. Mr. Rogers was right; they did indeed love me into being. They may no longer recall the kindness they showed me or how their example guided me, but I remember. Oh, how I remember.
May lives in Kansas where she was born and raised. She feels blessed to have been planted in the exact perfect place. The prairie restores her soul and influences her writing. She is a wife and mother of three barely adult children who have taught her much about life.