I grew up in a home where the garage shelves were heavy with pickles, beets, and jam. Our vegetable patch in the backyard always needed weeding. Come January, we’d climb the citrus trees. We had one small peach tree in the corner of the yard that would produce every few years. And every few years, my dad would stand over that little tree and rub his hands together, anticipating pie and crumble. We loved the good peach years.
I grew up in a home where Mom sewed my clothing. I went to elementary school in culottes and jumpers. My Girl Scout badges were sewn on my sash promptly and properly. Holes in jeans were mended. Pants were let out. I begged my mom for store-bought clothing. I wanted to be like all the other kids, in bold name brands that were so popular in the 80s and 90s.
I grew up in a home where we spent the summers riding our bikes to the library. I couldn’t wait for the summer reading program. There were goals and stickers, and those poor librarians probably had small flasks of something strong for when they saw me coming in the door.
I grew up in a home where things were not perfect, but they were so, so much better than what my parents experienced. It’s remarkable to look back on childhood with adult eyes and see the sacrifices made for our wellbeing. Of course, as children, we had no idea how hard our parents were working, how desperately they wanted time to themselves, how much of their young lives they spent watching us live the childhoods they wanted.
I grew up in a home where we were told every day that we could be whatever we wanted, that we were loved, that we were safe.
And I grew up to be a brat. I was a brat to my parents and my brother. I wanted to have and be more. I wanted the things that I thought would make life better, easier, cooler. This unhappiness followed me like a dark shadow for too long.
Today, I have a home where the garage shelves are heavy with pickles. I’m learning to sew clothing, and consider frugality a virtue. I’m a frequent flyer at our library. And I’m trying to build a place where my stepchildren know they are always loved, they can be anything they want to be, and they are safe. They also loved handmade gifts, waffles before a day on the beach, and prefer to buy their clothes second-hand.
This is the legacy of Rex and Karel. May we all be so lucky.