a little sunshine..

We didn’t have much money while I was growing up so I didn’t get to do much traveling. There was always something wrong with the car (if we had one at all) which meant only driving locally because it was “safer.” This made it hard to visit family since most of them lived out of state. My grandmother Helen lived in California like us, but she was so far south that it was best to visit by plane (which we couldn’t afford either).

Living with Mom was lonely. I remember asking her several times why we couldn’t just move closer to Grandma, or to Boise where I had thousands of cousins. But it was no use and as I got older I realized that she proudly considered herself the “black sheep” of the family. From that point on, I felt like I was destined to be alone. I had no siblings and with my dad dead it was just me and her. But if Mom isolated me from the rest of the family, she could continue avoiding their judgement on our poverty-induced lifestyle that she had created.

Despite being broke, Mom did manage to keep the phone alive. This was my one true savior. There many close calls but she would sacrifice to get the bill paid and for that I was thankful. Back in the early 90’s, there wasn’t much going on in the world of internet and technological communication yet. Oh what I could have done with Skype back then! Thankfully, we did have the good ol’ telephone and I always looked forward to chatting with Grandma during our weekly calls. Every Wednesday night she would dial us from San Clemente (so it would go on her bill) and we would chat for one hour. I would tell her about my previous week at school and give her random details about the animals living on our farm. She would always talk about new friends she had made at church or, if I was lucky, a story about when she served in the Marine Corp. during WWII. She was a great storyteller and I loved listening to her talk. With colorful details and funny accents, her voice made her memories vividly come to life.
At some point, during each and every conversation, Grandma would sing “You Are My Sunshine.” When I was really young she would sing it to me, but as I got older she would insist we sing it together. I loved that and I was proud of it. Then, as she grew older -and tired- I began a new tradition of singing it to her. I sang it to her while she lay sick in the hospital during my senior year of high school and we both cried. Sadly, that was the very last time she would hear me sing it.

When I had my son five years ago he was restless and angrily fighting sleep the first night we brought him home from the hospital. I sang him that first little verse of the Sunshine song and watched him relax in my arms. I’ll always feel like a little part of Grandma is with me when I sing it to my children. I hope to one day be able to sing it to my grandchildren too, although from a much shorter distance.

About moonwriter

For me, a lifelong passion for reading has come with a continued enjoyment for writing stories. I have been encouraged by several friends to expand that into a book about my "unique" childhood. I definitely have plenty of interesting memories to share...now if I could just make them "pretty".... :)
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12 Responses to a little sunshine..

  1. freckles says:

    What a touching memory, even though your childhood was hard you found the ‘sunshine’ in the sadness thanks to your wonderful grandmother. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to reading more of your memories. Nice writing 🙂

    • moonwriter says:

      Thank you so much freckles! I definitely faced some challenges growing up and for a while I liked keeping them all hidden…but I have had many good friends suggest I share some of it instead..half for self-therapy (haha) and half because some of it is “unique”… We’ll see! 🙂 My one fear is that, even though I have so much to say, I won’t be able to reveal it in a way thats enjoyable. Thankful for this class!

      • freckles says:

        You will find that way of retelling your memories in a way that will keep the readers reading 🙂 What I have learned from doing 4 of these other creative writing courses, you learn so much, not just about yourself, but what others like about your style of writing. Keep at it, get those memories out even if it’s just for self therapy 🙂 Better out than in, I say.

  2. Flo says:

    I enjoyed your “Ray” of sunshine — Keep writing Moonwriter – we will all enjoy your “therapy”! (lol)

  3. terrysmith says:

    I really liked your story especially how your Gramma drew you in to her life by telling you stories of her personal history over the phone. What a wonderful memento she left you with in the song “You are my sunshine.” You probably will never know how much she loved you and you cheered her up! Wonderful!

    • moonwriter says:

      Thank you so much! She didn’t have a very good relationship with my mom, but she definitely tried to make up for it with me. She taught me a lot!

  4. neXos says:

    I could almost hear my grandmother as I read this story. Your words brought me back to a place I hadn’t been in many years and reminded me alot of my childhood. Thank you moonwriter for sharing your story.

  5. Michael Reyneke says:

    Yes, there are so many precious chapters of our lives that we can associate with a song but there is that special one that lives within us. Thank you for sharing this aspect of your life with me. I look forward to more of your memoirs.

  6. I love this. What a wonderful memory to share! I’m glad you had a steady, constant within your grandmother that defied distance, those memories are priceless. Keep writing, those memories are worth every keystroke and some.

  7. Hana says:

    Oh my goodness, this was beautiful! I loved how the song has passed down the generations.

  8. Janet2 says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sure you are a ray of sunshine yourself. It is hard when you grow up away from others and everything. It’s good you got to spend time with your grandmother. Your ray of sunshine will live on and be passed from generation to generation. A great story!

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