The local five and dime store was a wonder to me when, as a child, my mother would take my brother, Greg, and me there after school. The toy department held charms that would dazzle kids. Sparkling gems in multicolored hues were displayed on the counters, so appealing to girls who would buy their first birthstone rings there. That’s where I bought my first makeup foundation, which was a rite of passage at finally becoming a teenager when I was allowed to wear it.
Mom would buy us soft, chewy pretzels or pizza and the lunch counter featured strawberry ice cream sodas. You popped open a balloon to get the price of the desserts and once I won a sundae for a penny. How I loved the simple ambience of that place! I would be clad in my navy blue Catholic elementary school uniform and white Peter Pan collar. My knee socks would be dangling because they never stayed up.
When I was much younger, Mom purchased a Paper Doll Wedding Set which made me so happy. Greg bought a goldfish there and a basketball which he loved to play with against his classmates. There was a contraption where you sat and took photos of yourself in black and white which would be developed instantly. We didn’t need smartphones for selfies back then!
Those times were so special and are the quiet kind of happiness that bring the sweetest joys. We find them every day. Thrilling, exhilarating, super high times are rare. Humans cannot sustain them long. God brings his sweetness to us in quiet hours spent with those we love.
I think Mom enjoyed those outings as much as we did. Now that she is gone, I often remember those times when Mom showed her love for us. Time has erased the physical places of my childhood, but the memories linger. I can close my eyes and remember my mother’s gentle kindness: treating my brother and me to strawberry ice cream sodas.