The Irony of It All

When I was a kid, I remember looking up at the sky and remember seeing the bottom side of all the leaves on the trees that lined our gravel road and the further up I would look up and I would see the sky, the clouds and sometimes birds. We could only ever see the moon, or the sun if we went to the pond or further into the woods, or into town. We never even saw rainbows. I knew they were a real thing because on the bus ride home we would see them after a rainy day on the way home from time to time. It was rare because rainbows weren’t important to me back then, cool to spot but nothing I searched for.

Rainbows as we know are caused by sunlight when it enters water droplets, separating into its wavelengths (colors), but it also has spiritual and traditional meanings as well. It can also mean, the sign of a new beginning. In my life, in my experience we never had a real meaning. I just created my own.

My father passed away in our home in 2006. He was young, just 35 years old. We had laid him down to rest on June 6, 2006, during a hot summer afternoon. It was ironic because the location of his burial was in an isolated wooded area a little outside of town. Right where he would be happy. You look up and all you see is the bottom of the leaves of all of the trees, and the further up you look you see the sky, the clouds, and the birds. There isn’t a way to see the moon, or the sun, or even a rainbow until you made your way out of the woods. Or even into town. I remember, we live in the Midwest, right smack in the middle and the southernmost corner of Iowa, so it’s hot. It’s humid. Just the idea climate for Dad to go mushroom hunting, so if there was life after death, that’s just what he would be doing once we all left this space and the burial quieted down. I imagined him sitting on this small broken piece of cement that looked like it was once a small wall to possibly section out the different burials, just waiting. His spirit sitting there in his white wife-beater, maybe a little bit of dirt on it. His blue jeans and wore out tennis shoes. It gave me comfort leaving him there alone as we all walked down to our cars. I was just 13 and I remember being afraid of leaving him by himself. I kept asking for him to give me a sign. Please tell me you are ok. Nothing. But as long as I imagined him sitting there waiting to mushroom hunt that was good enough for me.

The next morning, I am laying there. It had rained …. I watched it all night long, I watched the sky paint different canvases of clouds and blues and pinks as the sun came up. I looked at the clock and it was about 6:00 a.m., no one else was awake and I still was unable to sleep. I decide to go downstairs and drink some coffee and hope our porch swing was dry enough for me to sit outside. To my surprise it was. The grass still wet, the porch still wet, but the swing was dry. I sat down and tears streamed my face for the first time since laying my dad to rest. I just begged him and begged him to give me a sign he hasn’t actually left us. I took a drink of the coffee I made before coming out and I happened to look over the brim of my cup mid- drink and see a rainbow on the on the other side of main street. We lived right on the corner of main street and the front porch was a front row view of all the businesses lining both sides of main street heading north. The rainbow was right over the old Conn Communication store. I spit my coffee back into my cup and in my head and I said, ” Hi Dad. “, and I sat there frozen. I sat there frozen, stunned watching as the rainbow faded.

That was my meaning of a Rainbow. A rainbow was my Dad stopping by to say ” Hi.” from time to time. It may have also been the start of a new beginning as well but mostly, my Dad was saying ” Hi.”. My life eventually begins to continue, just as it does for any one after any passing. You don’t move on but you do keep moving forward. Right? Trials and tribulations come and go and by the time I’m in my mid-twenties, things begin to get better. Having left an abusive relationship, I enter a new relationship at the age of 23 and life is good. I still have to navigate how to live a healthy lifestyle, transitioning from a victim into a survivor and this man that I begin this new life with, Johnathon, I used to call him my superhero, but I’m serious. He really became my saving grace. He opened my eyes to a lot. We had laid in bed together and had a discussion about having a baby. He never had biological children of his own, but he did fall in love with my two. He just adored them. I did want another baby, we had the conversation, but the relationship was new. Starting the conversation was scary but some part of me kept saying that my biological clock was ticking. I was still young and still had seven years at the time before I was even thirty, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Well, we had the conversation and started trying immediately.

We got pregnant fairly soon and I was more than ecstatic and Johnathon BAFFELED at how fast it happened. If a person could become sunshine, that was Johnathon. He was just beaming. Weeks go by and I am steadily growing. After having already having children it doesn’t take much for your body to begin the changes. September rolls through, I’m about 12 weeks or so according to my pregnancy app and I have this wedding to photoshoot that I have been hired out to do by a co-worker. The wedding was absolutely beautiful, I was still pretty small, so my belly wasn’t going to be in the way and it was just a great turn out. I end the day doing dishes and the next thing I know I experience a sudden and sharp pain. I have never been stabbed by a knife before, but I imagine the sensation was similar. A small gush, and I think oh my goodness, It hurt so bad that I peed my pants right? Embarrassing, but no. I put the dish down to change my clothes, but quickly realize I am actually bleeding. I knew immediately. I made several phone calls to people to get my kids, get Johnathon and get me to the hospital. Everyone reassuring me that sometimes spotting happens and while I knew that this, however, was not it. After several hours in the hospital, we received confirmation that I had miscarried, and while I was supposed to be 12 weeks along, the fetus had actually stopped growing at eight weeks, and two days. One day after our first ultrasound.

A few weeks go by and after we had begun the process of moving forward and inching our way back to work and normalcy, we begin to try for a baby again. We once again became pregnant fairly fast. This time we kept it a secret. My best friend became pregnant at the same time, she was scared to tell me after I had just had a loss, I was scared to tell her after I had a loss too and it was just a crying, jumbling, hormonal mess. So, I didn’t tell her. I assured her that I was happy for her. I really was!

We have our first ultrasound and find there were two sacs. Twins. Except one of the sacs were empty. The doctor explains that the reason there was no sign or symptoms of a miscarriage was because the fetus, never developed past cells and eventually was absorbed back into my body. Later I learn the term for this is, ” vanishing twin syndrome. “. Mind blowing. It was quiet for a little, and my heart was heavy. I’m not sure how I could handle carrying twins in my body at 5’2”, it’s possible and I would have. I couldn’t deal with another loss. I left content with knowing the baby didn’t suffer, was not in pain and the other baby was safe and that itself, made the loss a very different experience for me and to this day I still feel guilty for not grieving the same way as the last miscarriage. I wasn’t devastated, just sad. My brain just automatically made me focus on the care of the surviving baby.

We welcomed our baby 9 months later, our little girl Ruby June, and she was blonde as a could be. She had fair skin, dimples and was just perfect. She looked like a real-life baby doll. By then I had remembered learning how the birth of a new baby after a miscarriage was actually called a Rainbow baby. I took a picture of her beautiful face, as I held her in my arms in the hospital and captured it, ” Mommy, Daddy, and your sisters love you Ruby … our beautiful Rainbow Baby.”

The newborn stages had come and gone, we decided we needed to get a bigger home as we were running out of space now with three kids. We get through this entire moving process and Ruby is about 7 months old by then. We moved our final belongings, we were staying for the first night in our new home, and the windows were open. It’s March 13, 2019, it had just rained, and we look out of our window and there was a double rainbow. One right over the other. It was two FULL rainbows. I ran back into my house, grabbed my phone and immediately started taking pictures. By now I am 25 years old, never had I seen a FULL rainbow, and never have I seen TWO FULL rainbows, over top of each other. Never. The rainbow was so big, that I could only catch a picture of one of them in its full size, so I had to take a shot over across the street to get both of them at least. I had to get both of them because I knew it was my dad stopping by to say ” Hi ” and bring my babies by.

If you ask my oldest daughter, Alivia, what her favorite colors are today, and she will tell you that it is all the colors of the rainbow. She has no real reason why. She just knows she likes all of the colors. She will draw rainbows all over the place even. I have never told her about my meaning of rainbows, what a rainbow baby is. Nothing. I know that this story is random, and it seems like I have an obsession with rainbows, and I guess maybe I do but I’m ok with that. A rainbow will always represent my dad and babies coming to say, ” Hello.” to me.

A picture of Alivia, age 3, December 2017. Her first drawing of a rainbow. I scrambled to take a picture of this simply because of the irony. She was so proud of it too. It could be just a coincidence, but this was during the winter when no rainbow is ever seen, 3 months after my first miscarriage, and before we became pregnant with our rainbow baby and having miscarried our rainbow twin. As I write this today, Ruby sits next to me at 3 years old. It is March 5th, 2022, 12 days before our three-year anniversary since moving to this new house. My dad passed away on June 3rd and was buried 06/06/06. Three sixes. I was 23 during my first miscarriage, 13 when my dad passed, and my dad was 35 when he passed. The number three is very prominent. Ruby our rainbow baby is my third living baby. So maybe it’s not just rainbows that have a specific meaning. Maybe the number three has a meaning for me too. Maybe the reason I didn’t see a third rainbow that day was because one was my dad, the second the babies we lost and our third rainbow, our rainbow baby was in my arms that day.

Scrapbook Memories

The Final Photos

When I first started writing about this I wasn’t actually planning on making it a ” series ” . It wasn’t until I saw the final photos of the inside of the trailer my grandmother owned as it stands today that I felt the undeniable urge to just keep writing. I was able to find a few pictures that captured a similar angle as the ones my grandma took so many years ago. Some with myself included , some only with memories attached. In these final photos I wanted to include the trailer that was next door to my grandma’s that we happen to live in.

These photos include people from our family that I no longer speak to. They include photos of my father who passed away years and years after these photos. They include moments from memories that were most painful to me. I keep them because at the same time there were great memories intertwined in all the dark memories. Weird huh? How that works ?

I want to start with the rest of my grandma’s side of the land where we spent most of our days, mostly because that’s where my best memories lie.

Next is the living room . Where we watched the best cartoons and usually where all of the cousins and I slept when we had sleepovers at grandma’s. Imagine a pile of about eight to ten kids snoring!

Here is the living room now . The wall paper and the carpet are just the same!

The rest of the home include pictures of bedrooms and bathrooms that I don’t have personal pictures of so here is where I will include photos from the other trailer that I lived in next door to this one instead. This trailer came with so many memories as well. In fact, I remember living with my grandma and my parents in this one until about 1998 ( or so ) . That is when she bought the trailer above and had it moved to our land.

I’m sure there are more , but I think you get the point. I mentioned before , there were alot of painful memories here but the good ones, they have been with me through this entire life time and I’m sure with many more years to go! Alot of what built me came from this gravel road. Sometimes the smell of wet tree bark on a rainy day , or something cooking in the kitchen that takes me back and a wave of nostalgia hits me . I end this with saying I don’t hate the fact that we had to move away . I hate how it had to happen , I hate that it felt like a little section of my childhood was ripped away from me, but the life we were able to create from there on out led me to many more beautiful people . My best friends , my step mom , teachers that make huge impacts in my life , experiences that I may have never got to have. I have alot to be thankful for . Thank you for reading my Scrapbook Memories.

Scrapbook Memories

Then and Now

As I was sifting through the photos online that I had found of my old home, I happen to come across part of the land as seen in my last few posts , but also my grandmother’s trailer . I didn’t mention it before through all of the excitement of finding them that we actually lived right on the other side her trailer in a single wide blue trailer.

Our trailer was run down and beat up compared to grandma’s. No heat in the winter some years . Other years in only parts of the trailer. In the summer it was fans in open windows even during the hottest point of the day. Black mold had grown from our window sill and down the wall from where it leaked. I remember Mom going at that wall with pure bleach and a pair of gloves and it never did a bit of good.

Since the photos from the realtor’s website only shows my grandmother’s old trailer , this first bit of photos I am about to share will only include such , but I will add in future posts our home too. There is just no way to exclude it as part of this entire story.

I wanted to start with the lake view from Grandma Sarah’s backyard mostly because it reminded me of the picture my grandma took of me standing right in the view of the lake from the hill. As soon as I saw it online it instantly brought me back to that day. Grandma had her disposable camera and was taking shots of the land , I’m sure for her memory but of course myself and my cousin Chase happen to be there . The view of the photos my grandma took are much closer and in the middle of summer so the trees are in full bloom , yet I knew instantly the exact location of the picture as soon as I saw it.

When I came across the photo of the actual trailer , I almost didn’t recognize it because they made such a drastic change to the porch. My step Grandpa , whom my grandma divorced shortly after my dad passed , had actually built the original porch and it was nearly the length of the trailer. Here happens to be the then and now that also included my cousin , and me standing on the porch crossing my arms . Of course with a ton of sass.

Last but not least ( I have so many more to come in future posts) , the famous ol’ gravel road. The road I talk about so often right along side that lake. It was the same gravel road my dad scraped my off of when I decided I was gonna win that bike race against my cousins. Like Dave Batisa said ,” No scars , No stories .” and boy I sure still have that weird lookin’ scar . Maybe I’ll include a picture of that in the next coming parts if this story.

This really has blossomed a ton of memories that flash through my mind like an old film . I know that there were some traumatic moments here , but I just want to revel in the happiness that anchored my heart there. The pictures just don’t do it justice . I can still hear the silence right before the wind rustled the trees , the crickets and frogs. All of it. So before I end this let me show you a picture of myself in a state of pure bliss , riding my bike , just the happiest little girl alive.

Scrapbook Memories

The Family Lake

I mentioned a few days ago about being home sick about my childhood home. I haven’t seen it in years. Last I knew it was private property so I can’t just hitch a ride to go reminisce .. From time to time I search on Google in hopes that someone some where has posted the land online.

I typed in the address today and it pulled up the very lake I speak of so often and I cried and cried and cried. The picnic table is still there. The house on the other side is still there …. The view is exactly how I remember it.

The trail, the same one we walked so many times is still the same , though it has more grass . I just can’t believe it . My grandma’s trailer is still there , the inside looks the same other than a few changes to wallpaper , cabinets and the porch…. The sheds are gone but the bones of all of my childhood memories are still there ….

I live in my memories very often and I’m not sure if it’s a bad thing but ….. to me these memories are the memories that built me and I’m afraid of losing them. To me , revisiting them keeps them fresh in my mind. The smell of summer rain , the soil and gravel and wet grass. The crunch of the leaves , and the sound of a fish catching at the end of dad’s pole. My heart is a little bit happier today .

There were some sad memories …. those are hard to look past too. I just focus on the ones that made me feel the most freedom and bliss as a child instead because it’s what I miss the most. It was fun….lot’s of memories.

I plan to go through my pictures tonight to give you a glimpse into my snapsot of memories with the pictures I found today . Stay tuned. ❤

https://fretwellland.com/properties/kahoka-mo-4/

References: Images retrieved by Google , website link: https://fretwellland.com/properties/kahoka-mo-4/

Scrapbook Memories

Homesick for Home

Keokuk, was never actually my home.
My home was down the gravel road that led to a dead end in Kahoka, Missouri. It was surrounded by wooded area that was eventually met by a lake. I think I’ve mentioned that before.

From time to time I get a little home sick too. I miss it. I remember exactly what it looked like and I remember the address . The last time we drove up that rode was September of 2004. Seventeen years ago. I make it sound like leaving was a  tragedy I’m sure , but that was home.

Home was chasing frogs and worm hunting
It was running barefoot down the same gravel road I wrecked on
Home was hoppin’ on the back of the small metal wagon hitched to the riding lawn mower to the lake
It was gettin’ on the boat and fishing
Home was helping dad build our very own teepee
Home was watching all the uncles and adult cousins have fireworks wars on fourth of July
It was holidays and family gatherings
It was snow ball fights with the cousins
or flying across the homemade zip line Dad made us out of our broken swing set
Floating in the kiddie pool all day long
Or helping mom take the clothes off the line in the middle of the night

I remember the way the chalky gravel felt during those hot scorching summers or the snow the way it would lay like a blanket . The way the air smelled after a good hard rain , and in the middle of the night there wasn’t noise pollution of cars or motorcycles or people partying . It was bull frogs and crickets, starry nights and fireflies ❤ I miss those days but I miss home the most.

Homesick for Home