Friday, September 18, 2009

Up and Down the Staircase- a Friday Five


My friend Jan reminds us of a classic A.A. Milne poem, which I've loved forever and asks:

"Thinking of your childhood as a stairway, when did you feel (and how did you feel then)

1. at the bottom?

2. at the top?

3. halfway?

4. At this point in your life, where would you place yourself on your own stairway?

5. Identify a place for you that "isn't really anywhere" but 'somewhere else instead.'"


This morning I dressed for work and put on one of my mother's rings and her gold charm bracelet, which is jingling even as I type. Since her death in April of 2008, I've worn some piece of her jewelry nearly ever day. It's a connection with her that means a lot to me. FBC does the same, and that makes me smile. My mother and my daughter play a big part in where I place myself on my stairway.

As an only child who grew up in the same household with my mother, my grandmother and my aunt, I was treasured and nurtured in ways that have served me well all my life. I grew up in this old Victorian home, which became the model for this. It has a huge staircase that was great fun to bounce down, stair by stair, as a small child. I felt like a top-of-the staircase kid, dearly loved and cherished, surrounded by affirmation and the mantra that I could be anything I wanted to be. The women in my life were all successful in their careers, and I grew up knowing that families may not all look the same, and that what was most important was love. I can't ever remember feeling as though I was at the bottom of the stairs as a child. I do remember leaving for college at a time when my mother had remarried, my grandmother was growing older and less healthy, and my aunt had physical and emotional challenges and certainly feeling as though I was halfway--neither up nor down--- and exhilarated to be heading of to college, happy for my mother, and worried about my grandmother and aunt.

These days, I'd say I'm still in the middle of the stairway, but happily so. I'm happy, fulfilled in my work, my family is in a great place, and I'm treating this year as an opportunity to take good care of myself, form new goals for my personal and vocational life. I still miss my mother every day, but there is much in life that is blooming and growing and it's a joy to bear witness and to participate in creative ventures with delightful people, including FBC, SBC and DH, colleagues and friends at the church I serve, and family and friends far and wide.

As for a place that "isn't really anywhere" but 'somewhere else instead,'" I'd choose my daily time of meditation. I'm really, really enjoying taking a class on meditation and discovering a very helpful practice!

Staircase is in the Braemer house, Edinburgh, Scotland.

7 comments:

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

jeepers you weren't kidding... we had very similar circles! good thing though the stairs aren't circular... ick i'm always afraid of tripping on those tight curves and falling over the sides... ungraceful as i am.

and what a beauty of a house!

Diane said...

I really like what you say about your mother's jewelry.

thank you.

Barbara B. said...

Wow, what a beautiful post! I love the connection with the jewelry. And what a wonderful house and childhood!

Rev SS said...

Gorgeous home! I want to live there. Like those who've commented before me I love that you can and do wear a piece of your mother's jewelry every day. You are blessed!

Jan said...

Lovely about your mother's jewelry. I was also an only child. . .

I like you being on the middle of the stairs happily and loved reading about you, my friend.

Someday we'll finally meet!

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Jennifer,

I've been working on some reconciliation issues with my mother who died 5 years ago after a long time spent in too many of her last years in the deadly grip of alzheimer's. Your comment about the jewelry wearing is such a marvelous idea of connection, thank you. Also for the poem and thoughts about where I would place myself on the staircase - great food for reflection!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This is a lovely post. Thank you for it.