Let Everyone Play

In 1984, many of us remembered Sally Fields holding onto a coveted Oscar for her role in “Places in the Heart” and declaring, “You like me. You really like me!” In actuality, what she said was, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.”

Like most of us, I’ve come to hold onto the first quote as the real one. For me it has accurately summed up my need for belonging and acceptance over the years, and explains why I felt so giddy last month after receiving my yearly t-shirt and hat from the Veteran’s Senior Center of Northern Ca.

I felt like some smilin’ 5-year-old, that day, who lost her first tooth and was eagerly awaiting a visit from the tooth fairy. And if the truth be told, I continue to feel that way.

You would think at this age that I’d be able to buy myself as many blue t-shirts and baseball caps as I wanted, and technically you’d be right. But there’s something that makes me cry with happiness when I think about what the shirt and cap mean. There’s something that’s so deep and primal about what those two items represent, that in one instance it overwhelms me with an unbridled joy and a feeling of unconditional acceptance and love. And in another instance, I travel back to my childhood, and am engulfed in a down-to-my-toes sorrow and a feeling of exclusion and dislike.

No matter how old, how rich or poor, how educated or uneducated we are; where we were born, or the color of our skin…we all have the need to belong and be accepted.

When we’re young, having friends is so important to our development and well-being. But maintaining friendships as we age sometimes becomes difficult. Our careers, family demands, and health restraints – all pull us in different directions – all pull us further away of what is truly important; truly valuable to our survival.

As a child, I keenly remembered being left out of play groups and study groups. According to a group of neighborhood kids, my family was poor and our father was crazy. So, it gave them a reason and justification to exclude me from playing kickball and hide and seek in the Cherry Street Park on those sultry, Adirondack nights as the lightening bugs dotted the sky.

“No newcomers,” Rosemary yelled as I rounded the corner from Orchard Street to Cherry, smiling with the anticipation of a naive 10-year-old who just finished her household chores and was ready to play. “No newcomers,” she yelled as I innocently looked behind me until the reality of her comment struck home.

Slowly my smile faded, ever-so-slowly my pace slackened. I was crushed – my spirit deflated – my self-esteem kicked in the stomach. But I knew then, as a 10-year-old that those kids weren’t going to get the best of me. So, I smiled even broader, straightened-out my young shoulders and walked right by them ignoring their jeers and taunts because I knew who I was – even as a 10-year-old – and I knew that I was better than their insults and abusive remarks, and I wanted nothing to do with them or their unkind ways. Or at least that’s what I told myself, as I walked around the block and went straight home to curl-up in my closet and sob myself to sleep, comforted only by the quiet and darkness of a long, summer night.

The fact remains: we were poor and our father was crazy. Killing guys on Pork Chop Hill during the Korean Conflict and leading men into a battle that took many of their young lives can do that to a person. There’s no doubt in my mind that my dad suffered from PTSD; no doubt in my mind that his self-imposed isolation and sitting for hours playing basketball with a small plastic, hand-held toy after he came home from the war were both signs of a mentally unstable young man; a man not able to appropriately parent four children and be a good husband to Mom. His demons were many and all went untold. So he’d thrash-out at my mother and beat-up on us kids and the more I’d watch shows like, “Father Knows Best,” and “Leave it to Beaver,” the more I thought something’s not right with this family, something’s not right in our home. But my mother would feed us, iron our clothes and try her best to keep smiling between my dad’s constant blows.

My mom would divorce him and eventually he died young – died alone and on vomit from an illness unknown, and I and my siblings went on with our young lives and turned into good people in spite of our poor start.

We had something more than money could buy – we had something more than fashionable clothing and all the newest toys – we had a mother who loved us and believed in us and taught us to be compassionate and fair. We had something that no one could give us or take from us; we had something undefined.

Our survival as a community, a nation, a world and a species, all depends upon our ability to make friends and play nicely together in the sand box that we call life. No matter who wins this election come November, may we all go forward and graciously let everyone play, because it’s necessary and it’s needed and it’s the right thing to do.

And in the meantime, I have a nifty new cap and a pretty blue shirt and I’m hoping that someday that everyone does, too. Have a great day, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

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Published by

Lucie

After much encouragement and prodding by family, friends and professionals, I (a former Special ed. teacher and consultant from Northern Ca.) decided to take my FACEBOOK postings on my silly life with my life partner and 2 wacky cats and share them with a broader audience. I've brought laughter and joy to a number of people now for quite a few months and sincerely hope that I can bring a chuckle or two to all who read my bi- weekly entries on my blog. (Now let's hope that I can muster enough competence to figure out how to use this site in a reasonably competent fashion, so that I still have fun writing and others can actually "find me"!!!!) I wish all who enter "Lucie's World" much joy and laughter and ask that if I've touch your life in any way and made you giggle or smile, that you "pay it forward" for the week and share a moment or two of laughter with someone that you care about....

26 thoughts on “Let Everyone Play”

  1. Hi Lucie
    I have read this story a few times and it makes me think about how sometimes we really don’t realise what a sheltered life we have lived. I suppose as kids we don’t really know if life is different to ours at the time, we are just kids and our parents are just that to us. They are flat out trying to cope with what life has dealt them, by the time they become parents, your father at 23 years of age was just doing his duty for his country, he was tossed full on into a situation in his life that would break the strongest and soundest mind that ever was. He seen and done things he had no choice or time to think about, he was in survival mode. How can anyone come out of that situation and ever be sane, happy, at peace, ever to live a normal life again, especially when the country he went to war for hung him out to dry. Your budiful Mom had massive decisions to make in her young life with a very disturbed ( crazy as you say Lucie ) husband, SHE was NOW in survival mode for her and her kids.
    Your dear Mom has done an amazing job picking up the broken fragments in her life and slowly putting them back together again. Lucie she has put you back together so beautifully, you are an absolute true blue mate (in Australia one of best people you would ever want to meet ) . We all loves ya to the moon and back, you mostly make us laugh, this time you make us bloody cry, but when I read this story a number of times I realised what a sheltered life I have lived. I’ll take it, but to you my dear friend way across the other side of the world, I am so freakin happy you have come into my life. Your Ma has created a masterpiece in you, you touch lives and make them all for the better Lucie, By gee wizz you are loved by many dear friend, you teach us all how to play and play fair my love.
    Biggest warm fuzzy hugs wrapped in lots of love from
    Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊 💜 💜 💜 💜 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What can I say, Anne Girl? You are the epitome of all that is light and love and joy thousands of miles away and I luvs ya big time….YOU stay focused on you and keep putting one foot in front of the other and I’LL keep sending the virtual hugs and keep you close to my heart and in my prayers…..<3 ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, hun???? Believe it or not, I seem to have a larger audience that prefers my more “serious side”…oh well, wha ‘cha gonna do? Thanks for stopping by, Kiddo. Hope you and C. are doing well. I’ll try to work on a more humorous story for next time. Let me talk to the Princess. I’m sure she’ll give me some “new material”, soon!! ;)p ❤

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      1. with the exception of being situated at the end of the runway of an international airport, we are living the dream 🙂 I am going to go ahead and agree with your larger audience and say that your “more serious stuff” is a bit more powerful and interesting than the humor. In my opinion, keep writing what you feel inspired to write, and keep the courage.

        c. 1300, from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) “heart, innermost feelings; temper,”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I mean, I feel sorry for your whole family for the terrible experience, but your dad clearly needed some therapy. I’m sorry he went through what he did and how it affected him so much. I wish he could’ve been in a better place when he died. My heart goes out to all of you. I’m glad that you’ve come out on the other side shining. I hope the same is true of your siblings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My dad died at 38. He left the Army a Staff Sergeant and was very good at what he did as an enlisted man. He WAS a victim and came home with no support system in place to deal with the PTSD….they never even diagnosed it back then. They taught him to lead men into battle and kill and at age 23 that’s what he did…and did it well. The gov’t just forgot to help him (and ALL of them) how to “forget everything” once they came home. My siblings and I have a great Mom and loving uncles that helped us throughout our lives. Thx for stopping by and taking the time to comment! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the way this is written! You, my friend, are a very talented writer. Always thought you wanted to be the most recent Erma Bombeck. There is something to be said about your humorous pieces, but there is something very special when you tell a story from your heart. I can’t really express what I mean here, but this is another beautifully written piece that has touched me deeply. Love it and love you Lucie!!

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      1. Oh gosh, “anonymous Barb”, you’re making me choke-up and cry (and of course, for those of you that intimately know me, this isn’t something that I do very easily, right??). Thank you my dear, dear friend who despite my “poor, wacky upbringing” remains my loyal friend to this day. I’m honored and humbled that you read me. Maybe “Erma” is quietly speaking to me in my heart, eh??? I always did adore that woman…Thanks, again, for the read and taking the time and effort to comment. Means the world to me…. ❤ 🙂

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  3. you are amazing and have grown into an amazing woman, i applaud you and would give you a t-shirt if i could. like your commenter above, it was my mother who was the one who was so hard to live with and i learned to live in a very different way in spite of her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew Beth when we started “reading each other” that you were a “kindred spirit” in more ways than one…Thank you, beautiful friend, for your constant support and input. I value your kindness soooo much! 😉 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In our house, it was my dad who was the “safe” person; my mum had been a piece of work since she was a young person. (My sister and I often wondered how he ever came to marry her.) And you are correct – kids who most need friends are the ones who quite often don’t get them. Maybe it’s because the other children are afraid what you have is contagious? Most likely, the only thing that saved me sanity (such as it is) was going away to boarding school. Nobody knew my parents, and I could re-invent myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you had a “safe parent”, too. I saved “me sanity” by reading and keeping a diary. When I went away to college, I made a lot of friends and actually starting “playing”…..was stressful on the one hand (trying to keep my grades up and keep my scholarship) and “being liked”….I never was one to agree with everyone else and started my years at college confronting bully students and a clueless teacher on my first day of
      class…talk about “making friends the hard way”! Actually, I think I’ll write about it someday. ;)p

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  5. Lucie, you did a masterful job of reworking this piece that was already strong when I first read it. Your changes increased its power. It is a compelling post that everyone can relate to. I think most of us have felt the sting of not belonging. I love the way your sturdy young self handled the rejection and the life lessons you learned and shared with us. Wonderfully done, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Little Buddy…..When I woke up, I KNEW where the intro needed to start….Sally Field’s comment kept repeating itself over and over. Thank you for your unconditional support and input. You are so valued and loved. Thanks, again. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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