My Brother’s Love

Andy with me standing beside him on the basement steps

Andy 14 and Sara 16 in Arizona on vacation with mom and dad

Last night, Randy and I watched the 2012 Women’s Gymnastic Olympics at my younger brother, Andy’s house. He now owns that great old house we both grew up in on Main St. It was an enjoyable evening spent with my old companion, his wife, Cheryl and daughter, Abbie. The U.S.A. Women’s team truly are the Fabulous Fierce Five. When it was over Andy teasingly offered to walk us out to our car. Laughing, I told him I thought we could make it okay on our own. I chattered away to Randy as we walked out the back door to our car. I guess that Andy’s back porch has one more step then I remember, I skipped it and promptly and heavily fell to the concrete landing below. I rammed my head into his garage but what I knew instantly, was that my knees and hands were burning. Sure enough, upon further examination, I had small scrapes on my hand and one knee. But the most damage was done to my left knee. A huge area had a layer of skin totally and deeply removed.

Later, at home, with Randy to doctor and wait on me, the pain and ugly open sore took me back to another time my whole body was covered in scrapes. This incident also involved my old companion and brother, Andy. You see, Andy has always been a special friend to me. The youngest two of a busy family of twelve, we often turned to each other for companionship. There were many times I realized his affection for me as we grew up together but the summer of my sixteenth year, Andy gave me my first real gift of brotherly love and loyalty.

We lived in a small Illinois town but my dad also owned a small farm about a twenty minute drive east of us. We spent many a day on the farm with my dad. Sometimes we were put to work, walking beans, tending the huge acre garden, helping to plant and harvest, and feeding the animals. Between the work we usually always had some time to create adventures. After the work was finished, we could be found climbing the old “monkey trees” in the northern wood,s pausing to quench our thirsts at a little spring nearby. Some days we would dive into the pond and have mud fights. There were  many hours spent swinging on a vine over the creek to drop just as you swung over the deepest part of the swim hole. When our hunger became too powerful as it often did with my dad working long hours and the lunch time sandwiches devoured hours earlier, we would make our way to the huge garden my mother tended. There we could eat all the fresh, raw potatoes, green beans and tomatoes our little tummies could hold. Life was good, we had everything we needed right there on that farm miles from civilization.

As I entered my teenage years, I found I no longer had time to climb trees and wade creeks. I had my driver’s license and a job. “Places to go and things to see” as my mother was fond of saying. Besides, my younger confidante, at fourteen, had discovered girls and was spending  a huge amount of his time on the phone. I felt as if we were growing apart and often yearned for the excitement of our earlier, care free summers. So when he came to me one day begging me to take him and a few of his friends to the farm to ride three wheelers, I readily agreed.

Besides the chance to spend a little time with my brother, I could work on improving my tan while they rode. I slipped a pair of shorts on over my swim suit and donned a beat up pair of sneakers. The boys rode for a while as I dozed in the sun. I could hear the birds chirping and the distant drone of the three wheelers lulled me as  I relaxed, enjoying the peacefulness of my father’s farm. After about an hour the drone became louder and I realized the boys were getting near. I sat up and watched as they pulled all around me. They were heading to the creek to take a dip and wanted to know if I would join them. At sixteen, I was taking pride in becoming a young lady, but the tom boy in me could not pass up the chance to have some fun. Besides, it would allow me time with Andy like the good old days. I agreed with the stipulation that I could drive one of the ATV’s.

We headed down the dusty road towards the bottom lands that held the creek. I picked up speed and the others followed suit. Soon we began racing and because I was the oldest, I was determined to stay ahead of them all. As we made the curve and headed down the steep decline that descended into the bottoms, I felt myself starting to lose control. The speed, the instability of the three wheeler, and my inexperience came together at this moment and I panicked. Instead of applying the brakes, I pushed the gas lever. Totally out of control by now, the three wheeler roared up the steep embankment and flipped over on top of me back to the road. That huge machine and I went into a slide for about twenty five feet.

Andy and the boys were close behind me and were quick to pull the heavy machine off of me. My swim suit had slipped down and my body was scraped from head to toe on my left side. As I stood up, the pressure on my left foot left me wincing and instant pain shot from my ankle. I reached out my bloody right hand to one of the boys for support and, in horror, watched as two of my fingers crumbled with a bone protruding from one of them. At this gruesome sight, the boy paled and turned away, holding his mid section. Andy had turned his vehicle around by now and was quick to come to my rescue and assist me onto his three wheeler.

We had no phone on the farm back then and no way to contact anyone. The nearest neighbor lived a couple miles away. As we sped back to the pickup truck, my eye sight began to dim. I yelled to Andy and he grabbed my arm around him and screamed “Just hold on tight!” He delivered me safely to the truck and helped me into it. By now, I could not see at all. I could hear my little brother’s shaky voice pleading with me to “just hold on a little longer”.  For some reason I lost my ability to speak, I could hear Andy’s panicked voice begging me and praying, but I could not reply to reassure him. I had lost my sight, my speech and my mobility. I couldn’t even raise a hand to pat him. I remember trying unsuccessfully to pull out of the darkness and comfort my frightened rescuer. I could only sit and listen. The sudden loss of so much blood had caused my body to go in to shock.

Later at the hospital, the doctor told me what I already knew. I was very fortunate to have a brother who “kept his head” and acted quickly when the other’s had panicked. I was so proud of my little brother and remembered the tender love and concern I had felt as he came to my rescue. It was at that moment that I realized we were not losing each other. We would go our own ways and take different paths but this day my baby brother had shown  me how deeply implanted love had already become in our young hearts. That special closeness that had been ours in childhood would continue to follow us as we grew.

From Our Front Porch

It seems to me it should have had it’s own actual name, such a part of our lives it was. But we simply called it the “front porch”. Parts of our childhood played out for the whole town right there on that big old 10’x30′ front porch of our house on Main Street.  That old gray, wooden floor and us children became very intimate through the years. We knew it’s cracks and painted chips by heart. It welcomed us home every day when we returned from school and again as we threw our bags in the corner after our paper routes. We sat on it’s brick ledges and on the concrete tiers of the steps while friends gathered to hash out our plans of the day.  Like a very close, old friend, my goodness, what memories that old front porch has witnessed!  Hot summer nights found us seeking relief from the heat; five dirty children sprawled upon layers of sleeping bags. The morning sun always seemed to rise too early, to tease our eyelids and dare us to waken. Oh what a sight we must have been for those early morning visitors. What thoughts they must have entertained as they knocked on our door, “Those crazy Rauch kids, always up to something?”

We were directors and actors as we practiced plays on that front porch. With tales of monsters that were meant to thrill, the old porch transformed wonderfully into our stage, complete with drop down curtains.We ventured into our neighborhood and sold tickets to fill the mismatched chairs we provided for our audience.  I still can feel the coolness of that old white bed sheet as it was wrapped around me, the mummy of the play.  I laugh at the memory of our mother arriving home during our great production, so mortified that we dared such a scene right there on  Main Street for the whole town to see. “Those crazy Rauch kids, what are they up to now?”.

Ah and the “hippies”. My parents simply saw someone else’s children needing shelter and a meal and of course we took them in. Those young hitchhikers sat on our front porch, played their guitars and sang their counterculture songs to us. The naysayers must have got their eyes full and shook their heads. But did they know the things these young people brought to us? Did they know how kind and respectful they were to my parents, how patient they were as they taught us kids to macramé belts and necklaces? No those who weren’t present will never understand how those long haired strangers enriched our lives. “Those crazy Rauch’s, always bringing strange people to our town!”

I remember Sheri, the little girl from St. Louis. She was one of the inner city children that came to stay with us in the summer to get a taste of rural life. As I sat on the front porch playing jacks, she skipped around me singing a little song. Sara sponda Sara Sponda Sara sponda Ret Set Set..Ah do re o Ado re boom di o..a do re boom de ret set set ..a do re boom de o….How that song echoes when I see little children playing on the streets. In the civil rights turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s I know that the people drove by thinking “Those crazy Rauchs, bringing “Blacks” to our little town!”

A memory comes to me now of our beloved porch swing upon that front porch. How can a couple of chains and some old wood slats cause such merriment?  The rides we took, the places we went, the stories that were created to the rhythm and creak of that old swing. Big brother, George,  sat in the middle, reached his hands to the chains and pulled hard to flip us backwards. With peals of laughter,  we would swing upside down. Games were invented and turns were taken, pushing and swinging as high as the old ledge would let us. “Those crazy Rauch kids, they’re gonna get hurt!”

And then the evenings would come. And mom and dad and sometimes a big sibling would come out to join us. Here and there a bike rider or walker would stop to chat for a while, crickets and cicadas serenading their banter. Quiet as ghosts, we would slink out to the yard,  catching the fireflies and setting them free again. The sun would sink, the breeze would blow soft and for a while everything  in our little world would feel just right.  “Those crazy Rauchs, aren’t they something?”

Words Of His Heart

As my love sits beside me
Playing his guitar
Singing and humming
My heart fills and I smile.

This gentle giant 
Stumbled upon me
And offered his shelter

As I was drowning one day.

Kissing my forehead
He took my hand
And oh so gently
Pulled me back to myself.

Words of his heart
Rained  from his mouth
Softly falling all around me
He anchored my life.

We road my storms out
He and me
He held me up
And I just held on.

My smiles are for him now
As my sun shines daily
And his lovely words
Have turned to song.

~Sara Jane~



 

Whisper Me the Words

Funny little children
Where have you been
Hiding in my mind
Running just out of reach
climbing through the memories
To dance on my keyboard now

Tap the keys with gleeful shrieks
Peer over my shoulder
Whisper me the words
Twirl and swirl
Stir the visions of my youth
Lay them here before me

Please, keep your sweet funny faces near
Remind me of your laughter and smiles
Nudge me with your tears and pain
Enthrall me with your innocence
I’ll capture your essence as best I can
Write it on paper permanantly

I’ll Always Remember

The mother we loved was full of quick conversation
History, genealogy and loads of memories.

The mother we loved respected God and all His creation
People, nature, critters, ah yes, all of these.

The mother we loved was an optimistic sensation
Lifting spirits, drying tears, everything to please.

The mother we love now has Alzhiemer’s
Meaningless jabber replaces her engaqing talk.

The mother we love is overcome with a diseases for “old timers”
She curses God, His critters and even the land they walk.

The mother we love is transformed for all times
Where there was hope, fear and doubt now stalk.

The mother we loved lives on in our hearts
We hide our tears and force the smile

The mother we loved would help us to start
Healing our wounds with memories on file.

The mother we loved will never part
“The journey to Him,” she’d say, “takes many a long mile.”

~Sara Jane~

Five Bits of Wisdom

I’ve been noticing a lot of lists made by bloggers. Maybe blogging is synonymous with listing. I’m not sure but I thought I’d attempt one of my own. Bear with me as I try it out.

 Five Bits of Wisdom My Mother Gave Me.

1.  Give them roots and give them wings. – She gave me this little nugget while I was struggling with whether or not I should allow my daughter to participate in something that a lot of other people were cautioning me about. She told me, you have given them some great roots, Sara, and Allison has a very good head on her shoulder. Sometimes you have to let them go. Let her have her wings. Give em roots and give em wings! I love that woman.

2.  Look your baby in the eyes and talk to him.  That’s how he will know you love him. Let him feel your love. – I was seventeen and a brand new mommy. I still lived at home and mom was showing me how to bathe my little guy. I still can feel the sun shining through the bathroom window as we held him in the sink and swished the warm water over his slippery little body. Two dark heads bowed and totally absorbed in the new little love of my life. It’s a special sunny memory I pull out from time to time. This bit of wisdom applies throughout their lives. Look them in the eyes and talk to your children. Let them feel your love.

3.  Pray for each of your children by name every night. – I truly believe this is what brought each of us twelve siblings into adulthood with no harm. I remember when mom told me that she and dad prayed for every one of us children by name every night. I also wonder if this helped them to sleep more peacefully. By giving their worries to God he gave them sweet peace and rest in return.

4.  Aquiring material worth does not make one rich. – I remember coming home from a friend’s house to tell mom of all the exotic things their family owned. She told me that owning material things didn’t mean someone was rich, in debt maybe but not rich. Richness, she told me, came from the people in your life and the things you do for others. I didn’t really know what she meant at the time but I have found myself realizing her words so many times as I have grown. I remember being a young single mama and struggling so often. When my babes would fret that we couldn’t buy this or that, I would tell them we were indeed very rich because we had each other and so much love in our hearts. The smile in their eyes always made me know they understood what I meant. I love those kids.

5.  Always wash your hands and face and comb your hair before coming to supper. And no hats at the supper table. – I don’t know why this impressed this little girl so. It instilled respect as I watched my brothers take off hats that seemed a permanent attachment and comb hair that probably hadn’t been combed since supper the night before. Standing around the sink with two or three of my siblings and washing our hands together gave us a family ritual that seemed to bind us together and give us a sense of unity. Such a little thing with a huge impact.

So my list is done. I stop typing to read and reread before publishing. Gratitude and deep love well up for those two gentle people that raised me. I’m sure they were just muddling through life, raising children, loving each other, getting by with no instructions like the rest of us parents. Somehow though with, I’m sure my mother would say, much help from God, they really seemed to have found their way.

They Named Me Sara

They named me Sara. It means “Little Princess” or so my father told me once upon a time as I sat on his knee. I don’t know when the memories replaced the years. I don’t know when I became me. At forty some years of age I have begun to awaken. I have begun to look back and forward at the same time. Until now I have been wandering, drifting, floating through life. And so now, I stop. I promise myself that I will make plans and goals. But soon, I save my document, turn off the computer and my real life begins again.

I believe that there are all these minute events and people and situations that come together and form each one of us. Wifts of cigar smoke from a grandfather, smiles of mischievous brothers, big sisters’ tugs on pony tails, best childhood friends, kick the can games, fast bike rides, campouts in the backyard and swimming in the creek. For myself, the creation of a woman began as the adventures of a tomboy.

I am the youngest girl of a family of six boys and six girls. That does not mean that I am the baby of the family. No, my brother, Andy, grudgingly holds that position. Though it seems as though we have always been the same age, Andy is actually two years younger than me. Andy and Sara, some would say, two peas in a pod, childhood companions, soul mates, and buddies. I looked up to him and he always watched out for me. We rose from the earth. Dirty little feet, tangled wind blown hair and the smell of the great outdoors clinging to our sturdy little bodies. Smudges on our faces never matched the one’s on our hearts. We were poor, we wore hand me down clothes and ran barefoot all summer long. We watched our parents and our older siblings struggle and work. We played in the spare moments around life’s hardships. Our pride was strong, our hearts true. We never thought we were poor. We adored our family and defended it with all the innocence of our days. We kept it’s secrets and followed the unspoken rules and expectations that were set before we entered it. “Use your manners” “pass all food to the left around the table” “Eat with only one hand, the other on your lap” “Use Please and thank You when asking for seconds” comb your hair, wash your hands and face before supper and no hats at the table.

Security came in knowing what was expected. Never be late for supper. Evenings were sacred with only one thing to do, gather at the table to partake in our nightly ritual. Twelve children around one table with mother saying grace while dad sat silently. After we were satisfied and the huge bowls of food depleted, dad would take out his cigarettes and shake one from the pack to light. Mom would set the pot on for coffee while the girls would clear the table. Even now as a grown woman, I find myself with a tug in the evenings. When the street is dark and the lights go on in the houses along my neighborhood, I long to burst into our house to have delicous smells fill my soul. I long to slink through the quiet darkened living room into the kitchen full of light and warmth and welcome, to see my dad patiently waiting for us to wash up and know that mom will be busy up until the last child sits, filling bowls and fetching dishes.

And so, I feel compelled to write these words. To let the world know of the life I have lived and the feelings my heart has endured. Please join me as I ride this ride. Follow me as we wander back in time or zip to the present only to float somewhere in between and dream about the future. My blogs are simple musings on childhood and adulthood and life and everything in between. I have been given ROOTS and WINGS by my mother. I simply hope to share my wonderful roots and beautiful wings with the world.

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