Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Year That Daddy Died

Fifty years ago, I turned ten.

It was a watershed year in my life, marked by my first male teacher, graduating from Brownies to Girl Scouts, my father's death, JFK's assassination, getting a kitten (Wilma), the Beatles' American debut, Wilma's first litter of kittens (when she was only six months old herself), my first attempts at writing stories and a cross-country train trip visiting relatives in New Mexico and Kansas (during which I became aware of the war in Vietnam). My most vivid childhood memories hearken back to September 1963 through August 1964.

I didn't exactly come of age that year, but I experienced my first loss of innocence as well as my first taste of independent thought. Sadness and joy wove themselves through "the year that Daddy died," with all its transitions, adjustments and discoveries. I often feel as if my life, or at least my  personality began that year.

Suddenly, that year was fifty years ago, and I can get senior discounts at the local movie theater. My clunky IBM electric typewriter is long gone, replaced by a sleek Dell Inspiron that runs on the Windows 8.1 operating system. I'm a Christian now, devoting most of my writing to topics involving the Lord, and He's blessed me with a husband who shows me how to love.

Yet when I hear the Beatles sing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," I'm ten again, watching them on  Ed Sullivan. The wonder of that horrible, joyous year surrounds me, making it difficult to believe that my younger sister has three grandchildren. In my mind, I still see Paul McCartney playing his left-handed guitar as I begin  life without Daddy.

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