I’m participating in a writing group at church. The focus is autobiographical, sharing our own stories. Each week we write a page or two on a different prompt. This one was “What was your family’s life like before you were born?”

James and Mary army uniform 01Neither James nor Mary was a native to Florida. James was a Canadian whose parents had moved to upstate New York when he was a teenager. He met Mary there, at Emmanuel Baptist Church, then said a sad farewell to spend three years in the Army.

Their courtship continued long-distance.

James’ parents, as well as his older brother, had moved to Florida, so when James was discharged that was where he went. Mary’s over-protective parents allowed their daughter to travel down the east coast to visit him, and she came home with a ring on her finger.

Florida became home to the newlyweds, but life was different. Orlando was hotter than Schenectady. They had to give up being Baptists, as that particular denomination is very different between the north and the south. Mary, a nurse, was the breadwinner while James went back to finish college. Lawn-mowing included killing the occasional snake. Frugality was the rule. One tiny jar of mustard easily lasted them several years.

Baby number one arrived, and some things changed while others remained the same. James was still in school, but Mary stopped nursing to stay home with the baby. They still killed snakes with the lawn-mower, but with a crawling baby this duty took on a new importance. In addition to the three nieces they already had, another was born.

James finished school and went to work for Martin-Marietta. Their toddler daughter, destined for great achievements, uttered her first word, Gesundheit. There was church. There was family, some close, some in distant Schenectady. There was a dog. These things would remain the same as the sixties became history and the seventies began.

Other things would soon change. On Florida’s eastern coast, man would no longer blast off to the moon. Another daughter would be born to James and Mary. The brood of nieces would expand to include one nephew. Employment opportunities would take them to places that were neither New York nor Florida.

And that little jar of mustard that usually lasted several years would suddenly disappear in hardly any time at all.

Hmmm… with an ending like that, I’ll have to eventually write a story about the mustard.

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