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A response to  today’s WP Daily Prompt: Describe earliest memories of the place where you lived as a child.

Discovering its presence just a short walk from my home startled me with re-found enchantment. Sitting sheltered underneath its swaying green limbs was especially remarkable, as it stood nearly fifty feet tall with its off leaning crown spanning ten feet across the park’s walkway. While my intense delight obviously must surpass the pure aesthetic pleasure of its gracefully swaying ballerina arms, I could unearth no reason for my sentimental attachment.  As I moved multiple times per year as a child, memories of the multiple childhood homes I stayed or visited in are blur.

Until, my mother gifted me a heritage memento of a lost family treasure.

As her oral narration of this gift began, with resplendent details illuminating our family life, I remembered this fine porcelain curved saucer with petite inset cup. DSC05279

Vibrant memories inundated me of visits with my great-grandmother.

She was a stern faced no-nonsense woman. Visits to her old boarding home wearied my small four year legs. Climbing the seemingly endless staircase only served to heighten my anticipation for the visit. Long before we arrived at the top story, my noisy feet and excited chatter had announced our presence. There she stood, towering over me in her clunky black high soled shoes, her hair tightly pinned high off her face. A severely plain dress matched her equally plain apron. Fastening on me a tiny apron covered with yellow roses and white frill trim that she had made for me, she quickly shooed my mother out the door. Her brisk voice commended me to listen and to obey. Yet, what remains with me is the warmness of the stove baking cookies and the quietness of the morning in our unhurried day. It stood in stark contrast to the rather disordered and chaotic life with my working mother.

By the time my mother returned from her errands, lace doilies graced the polished wooden table for afternoon tea. By then, I was weary of all the baking and cleaning, and my great- grandmother was doubtless weary of listening to small feet clunking in her heavy shoes.  Carefully swinging my short legs on her stately chairs, I quietly and patiently sat listening, for in those days, children were mostly seen, not heard, when adults were talking. To accompany our ladies only tea were dainty finger sandwiches, ones with the despised darkened crust cut off. My fine porcelain saucer was retrieved from the wooden hutch, and alongside my finger sandwich was placed on newly cooled cookie. I was entrusted with my delicate plate and given permission to sit in the side yard, beneath a magnificent solitary weeping willow tree.

Sheltered safely within its sweeping strand of cascading branches, I was secreted away. At my young age ,these ever so brief simply ordinary occasions formed a lasting foundation. Love and trust, valued and worthy. Life long blessings that would provide the self-assurance to withstand all future trials of life.

Whenever I stroll down a street saturated with weeping willow trees, or find just one gracing a park, I remember the source of my heritage gifts, both tangible and intangible.

It does not matter that I have no memories of childhood houses, for my home lay with two women whose love and acceptance so profoundly influenced my life.