Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Even Old Curmudgeons Have Birthdays



Relatively Retiring got me thinking when she posted her "Where I'm From" a few days ago. She spoke of air raid sirens and food rationing in war time England. I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been---for everyone---but especially for small children.

We had no air raid sirens, Ireland being on the outer fringes of all the action. But I remember having nightmares from hearing of the horrors of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, on the radio, and catching glimpses of awful photographs in the newspaper. We were not bombarded back then, as we are today, with round the clock news on television, so what we did hear really got our attention. That human beings could make other human beings suffer so cruelly was beyond comprehension. Certainly, children were sometimes mean and hateful to each other, but these things were being done by grown-ups, the people who were supposed to keep us safe; the people who were in charge of the world. If you couldn't trust them then where could you turn? And when Hungarian refugees, who spoke no English, knocked on our door, selling little trinkets, it really brought it home to us. These were the very people we had heard of in the newspapers and on the radio, who had suffered so brutally and been forced to flee from their homeland. Reduced to this to try to earn some money, and living in a refugee camp on the outskirts of our town.

I was about eight, and absolutely fascinated by these unexpected guests of the government. The most exotic person I had ever met was my mother's Uncle John, my Granny's younger brother, a movie star-handsome bachelor, who had traveled all the way to America and lived to tell the tale. When we visited out the country, he always told me I was "a saucy miss," which I took to be a terrible insult!

Fast forward a decade and a half and I found myself marrying a refugee of sorts.The fascination must have persisted! The OC was born in a German displaced persons camp after the war. His mother gave birth to him, his father heard he had a son and went off on a bender while the doctor said "Wait! There's more..." and along came his twin sister, Miss Oris! Many hours later, when he sobered up, The Prince learned he also had a daughter! Times were tough, food was scarce. The rations for a family of four were barely enough to keep one alive, but The Prince was enterprising, and charming, when he wanted to be, and soon had a brisk business on the side in contraband cigarettes, silk stockings, and French champagne. They didn't have much but they didn't starve. My refugee's first language was his parents' native Ukrainian. When they were six months old he and his sister became world travelers. The Prince had an uncle in South America so the family set sail....And spoke Spanish for six years, at which time  they were able to come to the U.S. Another language to conquer! No wonder I was impressed. I spoke English well enough, Irish poorly, halting school-room French, and had a nodding acquaintance with the rudiments of Latin. He was way ahead of me, and since the brain is the sexiest organ in the body, I was smitten. Besides, he had brown eyes and no freckles!

Yesterday this linguist/refugee/Old Curmudgeon turned sixty five. Sixty. Five. The mind reels! Where did our lives go? (Of course I'm considerably younger than him, by at least ninety days....).Unfortunately he was out of hugging range, as he too often is. You might think he's ready now to sign on for Medicare, put his feet up more often, and hit the golf course a few times a week. We haven't been on rations for many a year now and there are no air raid sirens making us dive for cover. But old habits die hard. Working is how he defines himself, and he's not quitting yet. His next adventure will take him even further away, to Jolly Old England. His mission: to clean house at the British branch. You better watch out guys!

But he is taking his golf clubs.

And I will be visiting....


And if you haven't done so already, you should go read "Where I'm From" by Relatively Retiring.

15 comments:

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

You are so young.
I wonder
where did my 60's go.
I know the 70's are going
by quickly.
Strange
inside I do not feel any different.

Thimbleanna said...

What a wonderful peek into your world Miss Molly. I burst out laughing when I read that the brain is the sexiest organ in the body, even if it is amazingly true. You must be getting terribly excited about your trip -- I hope you'll blog about it, as I must live vicariously through you!

Relatively Retiring said...

Let me know where and when, Molly.

Minko said...

Brilliant! I, too, hope you blog about your travel!

dianne said...

happy birthday to the OC - and to you in 90 or so days ... i will hold onto the Man of Steal extra tightly today (and LuLu - but his two oldest siblings think they are too old to be hugged and kissed by their nonna), and think of you ... i know how my own heart aches to hold the other 3 of my grandbabies who live 3 miles away - those 3 miles may as well be an ocean...

Isabelle said...

Oh, happy belated birthday to the OC.

(No, no more weddings; they're all married. It was just a spam comment.)

Are you going to come to Scotland, then??????? I have a feeling that your beautiful baby isn't very near here, alas... .

aubirdwoman said...

Hope He had a Happy Day. Looking at him I can see you make a grande pair. Maybe he would like to come downuner (and bring you of course) sometime.
I believe there is definitely things in the air ..... I was only talking about the same things to The Scot this week. Born in England and at the end of the war I can't recall much but we were poor and I do remember Ration Books. And I am so lucky to not have memories of any Wartime.

jkhenson said...

Happy day to him! :) I love reading your posts! Be glad you're there and not here in our icy mess-although I do admit to being pleased to have a snow/ice day. :) Hugs to you!

StitchinByTheLake said...

I rarely think about my age - 66 - but when I do it is with wonder and awe. I lived all those years, had all those thoughts that come with each age, and don't feel one day different in my head than I did when I married at 18. My body is a different story. And unfortunately it speaks loudly. blessings, marlene

Secret Agent Woman said...

That was an interesting bit of history. Happy birthday to the OC!

Lee said...

A wonderful tale, Molly. And I, too, wonder where all the years have gone...years that have flown by far too quickly. And unfortunately, they're gathering speed it would appear - to me, anyway.

Cheers. :)

Isabelle said...

I found your essay in my Spam folder, Molly! I apologise on its behalf. "Put your squares on point" -and that means...?

Pauline said...

You two make a handsome pair! Happy Birthday to the OC, though he doesn't look curmudgeonly at all.

At my house it was the starving children of Biafra whose photos were in Life Magazine. Memere and Pepere lived through WWI and II and the depression. My dad was in WWII; though they never had to duck and cover, my mother remembered black outs and rations then, too.

I did not get your email. Could you try again? (pclarke122atgmaildotcom).

Dee said...

Dear Molly, I sighed as I finished reading your posting today. Sighed out of deep contentment at the fullness of time and how it circles back and brings us to beginnings. Happy birthday to your husband. Like you, I think that the brain is the sexiest part of anyone! And I'm glad you--who must be very sexy that way also!!!!!--and your husband found one another no matter in what language you are thinking and speaking today!
Peace.

Susan Kane said...

Looking forward to more stories about your travels! How amazing it is that two people from vast distances meet and marry!