Tag Archives: Childhood Stories

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Songs That Confused Me When I Was a Kid

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If anyone is interested in reading a great essay about how common sayings, phrases,  and even certain logos can be misunderstood, go check out Knowledge Is Power. France Is Bacon.

I normally avoid discussing sensitive topics like religion online, but I must bring it up today due to the sort of childhood I had.

A closeup photo of a mic in a mic stand on a stage. The lights from the upper portion of the stage make it impossible to see anything in the distance. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was a preacher’s kid and was homeschooled for the first several years of elementary school.  The combination of these two things meant that I knew very little about secular pop culture until I was about eleven or twelve and my parents began gradually relaxing their rules about music, tv shows, and films.

(They were less strict about books for some reason, but even there I mostly read the classics, Bible stories, the Inspirational genre, and fairy tales until I was old enough to go to the library with less adult supervision and, ahem, bend the rules just a little bit by borrowing children’s ghost stories and Choose Your Own Adventure books. 😉 )

Therefore, I suspect that my first two answers might not be familiar to some of you. I mixed it up as much as possible and included secular music, too, to increase the odds of someone knowing at least one of my answers!

Apple Red Happiness

Apple Red Happiness is a kids’ worship song about the Fruits of the Spirit, which are a list of virtues from the New Testament. They include love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

What confused me about this song were all of the food references that had nothing at all to do with the topic at hand. What on Earth did food have to do with being kind or peaceful? I couldn’t figure it out, so I was always left feeling puzzled and a little hungry during this song.

 

I’m in the Lord’s Army 

I’m in the Lord’s Army is a kids’ worship song about committing to being in service of God that uses a lot of militaristic imagery to get its point across.

There were motions we were supposed to act out at specific portions of the song. For example, we’d pretend to pull the string back on a bow and shoot an arrow every time we heard the world artillery or pretend to hold a bridle and gallop like a horse every time we heard cavalry.

Given the large number of pacifist German Mennonite relatives I had, this song also utterly confused me. When I learned what metaphors were, I concluded that this was a metaphor….well, at least until I learned about the Crusades and other holy wars when I grew older. Then it was back to permanent confusion.

As protective as my parents were, though, some secular music did seep through.

 

Kissed By a Rose

I believe I heard Seal’s Kissed By a Rose on a radio that was playing in a store somewhere when I was a kid.

It sounded a little medieval to me and was nothing like I’d heard before. I loved it!. For several years I assumed that this song was hundreds of years old and had only recently been rediscovered and recorded for a new generation.

 

Stop! In the Name of Love 

One of my elementary school classmates would randomly sing Stop! In the Name of Love by The Supremes when we were at recess. (Or maybe some other artist did a cover of that song that I wasn’t aware of?)

I had never heard of this group before and had zero cultural context to understand what I was supposed to stop doing, what love had to do with it, or what other rules love might compel someone to follow in order to avoid breaking anyone’s heart. None of it made sense, and for many years I assumed that kid simply enjoyed making up silly things to sing that weren’t supposed to make any sense.

It also didn’t help that he only sang those five words over and over again and only occasionally included the next five (“before you break my heart”).  Maybe he didn’t know the rest of the lyrics and was secretly just as confused as I was?

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Moment I Wish I Could Relive

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A photo of a soft pretzel. If I could relive one memory, it would be hanging out with my best friend Jill Scheiman.

Jill and I were inseparable in junior high and the beginning of high school. Both of us came from upper working class to lower middle class families, so we were used to having plenty of fun on a budget.

She loved music, sappy movies, and developing crushes on someone new every few months. I used to marvel at how easy it was for her to suddenly start liking someone because of how rare it was for me to do the same thing.  Her bedroom was filled with teen fashion magazines and home gym equipment whereas mine was filled with books and whatever secular music CDs I could afford to buy. I was quieter, more serious, and much less interested in romance as a genre or as a hobby than she was, but we both enjoyed finding the humorous moments in life whenever we could and talking about various nerdy things.

I wish we could spend another afternoon driving around aimlessly, going on the rambling walks we would sometimes take while we talked about everything, or enjoying some soft pretzels or slushies at the mall. We were both genuinely good kids who liked hanging out together. Giggling was about the most disruptive thing we could think to do.

(Well, other than the time that we toilet papered the car of one of our youth group leaders. With that being said, we also cleaned it all up afterwards, and the adults were amused, not annoyed, by our antics as this was many years before the famous toilet paper shortages of 2020 and they knew we didn’t mean any harm.)

They were never grand plans, but they were our plans. Even simple things in life are better if you have someone to do them with!

We mostly lost touch after she graduated from high school as she was a few years older than I was, but the last I heard about her was that she was married, had a couple of kids, and was studying to become a nurse. (She did not go straight on to college after her high school graduation, so this was later on in life).  I wish her and her family well.

But what I wouldn’t give to be a carefree kid with her again on a Sunday afternoon! Every few years I look her up online to see if I can find anything about what she’s up to these days. I haven’t had luck with that in a long time,  but I do keep trying. Maybe when we are old women we’ll have a chance to be silly again together. I included her last name in this post on purpose just in case she ever googles herself and stumbles across this message.

As an interesting aside, I recently read that today’s teenagers are much less likely to hang out at the mall than previous generations did. Some malls don’t allow unaccompanied minors to walk through them at all anymore, and other malls have gone out of business due to the Internet and cultural shifts. Almost anything can be ordered online these days, so plenty of shoppers of all ages have switched to that if they need a new book, t-shirt, or pair of shoes.

I wonder what Jill and I would have done if we were teenagers in 2024? Probably a lot of texting, social media stuff, and swapping memes, I’d guess.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: An Interesting Story About Family or Friends

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To give a little backstory first, my grandfather has been a farmer his entire life just like his father was before him. One of the problems with farming in certain parts of the Midwestern United States is that the land there used to be a giant swamp.

This means that anywhere from mild to much more serious flooding is common in certain low-lying areas and that they often have too much water for their crops instead of not enough. Stagnant pools of water are also a great place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs, so one must take note of that as well unless you want to become dinner for thousands of tiny little bloodsuckers.

Drainage pipes are one modern solution to this problem. My grandfather’s land is filled with them wherever he notices that he has too much water.

This is the tale of the white drainage pipe and the kids who protected it.

When my brothers and I were little, Grandpa installed a drainage pipe in his side yard. This was a little uncommon as most of his pipes were in his fields or by his barns in order to keep his crops and tools from being flooded out.

It was not a complicated job, but it was something that my siblings found fascinating. We were allowed to stand a safe distance away and observe part of the process. I have vague memories of it being muddy as they dug.

After the pipe had been placed and covered over with dirt and grass seeds again, Grandpa gave my brothers a very solemn and important assignment.

Two photos from the day when Grandpa dug the drainage ditch in his yard. In the left photo, you see a Caucasian girl with short, curly brown hair leaping over the drainage ditch. I’m probably about 5 or 6 years old in this photo. The ditch was maybe a foot or two deep and there are piles of soil on each side. I’m wearing a pink shirt, a red skirt, and white shoes that were somehow still clean despite all of the mud. I n the photo on the right, my little brother is standing next to our grandfather beside the ditcher. The ditcher had been painted red but the paint was fading. It was about 8 feet tall based on how much it towered over my already decently-sized height grandfather. Grandpa is a Caucasian man in about his 50s whose skin has been deeply tanned by a lifetime of working outdoors. He’s wearing a blue and white ball cap, a blue longsleeved work shirt, and a lighter blue pair of pants. My brother is also Caucasian, about 3 or 4 years old, and he wearing jeans and a yellow-tshirt, and has straight blond hair. Every time we came over to visit, they were to pour a little water in one end of the pipe and make sure it flowed out the other end into a nearby creek.

Some kids might have forgotten this duty after a time or two, but my siblings were not among them. Every time we visited, they would pour a little cup of water into the pipe and then we’d race down the hill with a nearby grownup to ensure grandpa’s pipe wasn’t plugged up.

This went on for multiple visits if my memory is correct. The pipe was always clear, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

And now I chuckle at the cute memory and creative way to encourage the grandkids to burn off some energy and feel included before going indoors into our grandparents’ home.

(This post was edited to include a few family pictures I didn’t know existed from this time period. Look how big that ditcher was! And I’d forgotten that I jumped over the ditch).

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Hobbies I Used to Enjoy

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Welcome back, everyone!

Some of these answers may give clues about my age.  Here are four of the hobbies I used to enjoy but no longer participate in.

Tamagotchi

A photo of a Tamagotchi toy that was popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s made of pink plastic and has a tiny little screen where a pixelated pet can be seen sitting in the centre of the screen.

Photo credit: Tomasz Sienicki

This was a virtual pet that was wildly popular back at the turn of the century (Yes, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here).

I never actually bought one. Instead, my best friend gave hers to me after she  grew tired of it.

I spent  many happy hours over the summer keeping my Tamagotchi happy and healthy before passing it onto my siblings.

We must have given it to someone else after that, but I don’t remember who was the next lucky kid to play with it. Here’s hoping they loved it as much as we did.

Cycling

A teal bicycle that’s Ben chained to a no-parking sign on a quiet city street. The building behind the bicycle has been painted a beautiful shade of light pink. When I was a kid, I spent hours going on long bike rides over the summer.

My family lived in a housing development at the time, so the only traffic there was local. The streets were quiet and safe to ride on 99% of the time.

Once we moved into a small city, I only cycled on the residential streets close to my home as there weren’t any bike lanes on the main roads through town and they were far too busy to accommodate cyclists.

After I moved to the big city, I didn’t cycle at all because there weren’t any bike lanes to speak of at the time and it was terribly dangerous to ride alongside cars. There was also the problem of bike theft. You have to be quite careful about where you chain up your bike and how you chain it up here if you would like every part of it to still be there when you return.

Toronto has begun adding bike lanes to certain streets which has definitely improved the safety aspect of cycling here, but theft remains a big issue. I hope that changes someday as I really miss this form of exercise!

Poetry 

A closeup shot of pages in a book being flipped through rapidly. I used to love reading and writing poetry, but both of those hobbies faded away in my early 20s.

Despite several attempts to revive my interest in them, I’ve never been able to recapture the old magic of that experience.

Maybe when I am an old woman I will find one or both of them enjoyable again.

 

Picking Up Trash 

Close-up photo of a white person holding open a white canvas bag. Inside the bag are an assortment of glass and aluminum bottles. Okay, so I might need to explain this one a little.

I spent much of my childhood in rural places where there’s honestly not a great infrastructure for picking up trash that accidentally – or maybe purposefully – gets left behind.  Much of it would just sit there until a kind stranger picked it up, the county assigned people to pick it up as part of court-ordered community service, or a inmates did it on day release from the local jail in order to make a little money.

My family were among those private citizens who picked trash up without being legally required to do so. Sometimes mom and dad would turn it into a free date night activity for themselves. They’d leave us kids home for an hour or so, go clean up the neighbourhood or a local road, and talk about whatever it is grown-ups discuss when their children aren’t around.

I took note of how my parents behaved and would sometimes go out on my own trash-finding adventures. Most of the items I picked up would be soda cans, beer cans, or plastic bags.

In college, I took Ecology as one of my science credits, and one of our assignments was to clean up all of the trash by the side of the road next to our school. That was a fun project. We did it in March or April and found everything from broken toys to cassettes tapes to, I believe, a few Christmas decorations as well.

Toronto was such a clean city that I never got into the habit of doing that after I moved here. We have city employees who drive machines that suck up every the smallest pieces of trash here, so there was usually nothing to pick up.

That began to change when Covid happened. Unfortunately, most of the trash I see on the streets these days would be dangerous to pick up with bare hands. Think broken glass, used hypodermic needles, dirty masks, human or animal excrement, etc.  You don’t see it on every block or on every day, but it unfortunately is the sort of trash I’m seeing more often over time now.

If or when I begin seeing other sorts of trash in my area, I will start carrying a pair of gloves on me and once again keep things tidy.

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Like or Dislike True Crime? Why?

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A drawing of a magnifying glass that has a dark yellow handle. The glass is magnifying three fingerprints that are on a white background. Content warning: domestic violence and murder. I am only including details that are 100% necessary in order to understand my feelings about this topic.

I dislike True Crime because of:

1) the way this genre can exploit the victims of violent crimes and re-traumatize their loved ones by sharing these stories without consent,

2) how some True Crime programs exaggerate or even make up details about certain cases to make them more interesting,

3) how some True Crime programs lionize murderers and abusers,

4) which victims are and are not discussed. That is to say, pretty, young, straight, white women are far more likely to be featured on them from what I’ve observed. It feels deeply wrong to me to overlook people from other races, sexual orientations, ages, sexes, etc. for these stories. The grief all of their families and friends feel is the same no matter what the victim looked like or how they identified.

Now to dig into a more personal reason why I avoid this genre.

Someone I attended high school with was murdered by her abusive ex (who was also a student at our school) in front of their small children a few years after graduation. He is still incarcerated so far as I know.  Their kids survived and are safe with relatives now.

What happened to my classmate and her family was horrible. I think of her story every time I overhear discussions about this genre. I’m sure it feels like a harmless hobby for many fans, but a lot of True Crime stuff can take on a sinister tone if you have personal experiences with the topic and see how uninformed and unkind some folks can be about the cycle of abuse and how dangerous it is when a victim tries to leave.

I cringe when I hear people talk about what they would have done differently in certain cases or how they thought someone should behave when faced with a homicidal ex. It makes me feel like they’re dissecting a book or tv show instead of talking about the tragic deaths of innocent people who could have easily been any one of us instead.

If you’re going to consume this genre, please speak respectfully about the victims and be careful about the assumptions you make about what you would or would not do in their shoes. You may know far more people who have been through something similar than you think. Kindness and compassion are key.

There’s so much important work that can be done to reduce suffering in these situations. I wish the True Crime community would focus much more of their energy on crime prevention, assistance for victims of abuse and their loved ones, and honouring the dead in whatever ways they have the time and/or money to do so.

Wouldn’t it be a relief to live in a world where the True Crime genre comes to an end because there are no new murders for them to talk about?

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something You Believed But Found Out Wasn’t True

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When I was seven, my parents moved our family a few thousand miles away from where we had previously been living. Since we were homeschooled at the time, my siblings and I didn’t have to say goodbye to classmates or teachers. We couldn’t bring all of our friends and relatives with us, though, so that was still an adjustment.

Cartoon image of a little girl who is holding a green umbrella and yellow satchel and wearing an orange raincoat. The wind is blowing against her so hard that her umbrella has been turned inside out!

Image credit: cromaconceptovisual

After we moved, I thought about my maternal grandmother a lot. In my WWBC karma post last month, I talked about how much everyone loves her.  She was (and still is) the quintessential grandma: gentle, kind, soothing, adores children, and will feed you warm, homemade chocolate chip cookies if you like them.

I was allowed to play or read as I pleased after our daily lessons were finished, so I had a generous amount of time to try to figure life out.

Sometimes when I missed my grandmother terribly and it was windy enough to carry sound* I’d stand on a local hill and yell loving messages to her.** I thought that maybe she could hear the faintest whisper of my words if I yelled loud enough and if the wind was blowing especially fast that day.

I imagined her bent over in her large, friendly garden harvesting corn or picking strawberries only to pause and wonder if she’d really heard her granddaughter yelling her name or if she was just imagining it. Perhaps she’d smile and blow me a kiss or yell back her own message, too.

It took another year or two for me to learn enough from my science textbooks to realize sound doesn’t work that way, but it was a comforting thought while it lasted.

*At that age I thought wind could somehow carry sounds long distances if you made your words strong and loud enough to last the entire journey. Don’t ask me how that was supposed to work!

** I apologize to any neighbours who may have been terribly confused by why a kid was loudly yelling “I love you, Grandma” and “I miss you, Grandma”  over and over again outside. Those messages were intended for her ears only.

(We moved back to her area several years later, so this tale has a happy ending).

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Celebrity People Say I Look Like

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Ooh, this is a fun topic!

Can I assume that you all know who Shirley Temple, the beloved 1930s child star, is?

A photo of Shirley Temple when she was a little girl, maybe 6 years old. She’s grinning and wearing a blue dress with white lace trimming the collar and front portion of the dress. She has a cute little blue bow tied up around her curls, too.

For anyone who might not know her, this is what she looked like as a little girl.

This is what I looked like as a little girl:

A 1980s photo of two young siblings, ages about 4 and 2, who have been posed for a professional photo. The older girl child is me, Lydia. She has short, very curly brown hair and is wearing a light purple dress that has a large white collar with red trim on it. The little boy is my brother. He has short, straight, blond hair and is wearing a collared shirt that has a rainbow pattern.

(That sweet little boy next to me is one of my brothers. I’ll leave it up to him to identify himself further if he wishes to).

I have memories of older women stopping my mother in department stores to coo over my curls and tell us how much they thought I looked like Shirley Temple.

And, yeah, I can see the resemblance.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Love About Halloween


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Happy Halloween to everyone who celebrates it! This is my favourite holiday of the year, so I’m thrilled to see October 31 come around again on the calendar.

In previous years, I’ve blogged about My Favourite Halloween Treats, Halloween Picture Books, and Halloween Things I’ve Never Done  for Top Ten Tuesday’s Halloween Freebie post.

This time I’m going to talk about why I love this holiday so much, especially since I wasn’t allowed to celebrate it as a kid as I’ve mentioned before.

So what’s so fantastic about this holiday?

1. Presents Aren’t Needed

It’s a relief to celebrate without being expected to give or receive gifts. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that tradition.

Two white people are each holding up a sugar cookie that has been decorated for Halloween. One cookie is shaped like a ghost and the other one a skeleton. 2. Candy and Baked Goods

Halloween candy and baked goods are delicious. If I receive something I can’t eat for allergy reasons, there are a lot of other people who can eat it and who wouldn’t mind taking it home.

3. Free Expression

This is the only time of year when it’s socially acceptable for adults to dress in costumes (unless you’re going to a comic conference or something). I love having the freedom to be anyone I want for that night…even if, truth be told, most Halloween nights find me no longer dressing up at all.

4. You Can Eat Anything 

I enjoy cooking, but I do not like the pressure that can come on other holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas to follow a rigid menu and make all of the dishes the exact same way every time. There is no set menu for Halloween. You could eat pizza, samosas, Pad Thai, or a nice, big salad if you wish!

5. Halloween Music

Don’t tell anyone, but I start listening to Halloween playlists in September. I love jumping around from lighthearted kids’ songs to the season finale song of Supernatural to all sorts of other spooky music.

6. Autumn Is Gorgeous 

I love walking through crunchy leaves in the park and seeing the brilliant red, yellow, orange, and occasionally purple leaves still clinging to their trees or bushes.  Halloween is often pretty close to peak colour here in Toronto, so this is yet another reason why I love this holiday.

7. Ghost Stories 

Whether I’m going on a ghost tour, reading a ghost story, or watching a paranormal film, I think it’s interesting to explore the spirits’ motives for haunting a particular location.

A jack-o-lantern is sitting in a patch of glass. There is a candle inside of the lantern that is making it glow orange and yellow. It’s dark outside, so few other details can be seen other than the lush grass it is sitting on. 8. Carving Pumpkins

Am I good at it? Not really, but it’s still amusing. When else are you going to have permission to play with food? (Or potential food, rather).

9. Acknowledgement of Death

A friend of mine died in a car accident when we were in high school. One of the weirdest parts of that experience for me was how quickly people stopped talking about him. We were all grieving, and of course I respected everyone who found it too hard to discuss him or his accident. Halloween is a relief to me because it’s one time of year when more folks are willing to broach such topics and remember the dead.  Yes, there is pain in those moments…but over time there can also be so much joy to be found in retelling funny or touching stories about those who are no longer with us.

10. Fear Is Fun In Small Doses When You’re Not Really In Danger

Wow, that was a wordy sentence! But, yeah, I do see the value in feeling a little fear from a spooky movie or ghost story when you know that it is 100% fiction. This is such a different feeling than being afraid of something or someone who could actually harm you.

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: The Most Creative Halloween Costume I’ve Worn

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So here’s the thing about being a preacher’s kid: it can give you a childhood that’s a little off the beaten path in certain ways.

My family didn’t celebrate the secular, mainstream version of Halloween until I was 11*, so I only had a few years of trick-or-treating and picking out a costume before I aged out of that tradition. I  was so thrilled to finally be able to dress up, get some candy, and say “Trick or Treat” that I didn’t worry about choosing creative costumes. One year I was a nurse, another one I was a mime, and I don’t remember what I decided to be that third year. I wasn’t allowed to pick anything scary or gross, and late October used to be a much colder time of year than it often is now, so I probably picked the warmest costume I could find.

*We went to Harvest Festivals instead which are a Christian alternative to Halloween for some denominations. They were an interesting mixture of the sort of cute Halloween or autumn party you might throw for a class of preschoolers and some scary skits about various religious topics like the spiritual dangers of trick-or-treating. I don’t believe we were allowed to dress up for them because that was considered sinful, but we did get candy, a few small toys, and to play fun games like bobbing for apples!

The most creative Halloween costume I’ve seen on someone else was made to look like a pink birthday cake. This person spent hours decorating cardboard to look like a cake, and I think they used pink and white tissue paper or something to give the appearance of light, fluffy frosting on the cake. It was a beautiful costume but apparently rather stiff and uncomfortable to wear.

One year I also saw about a half dozen people dressed as dominos (the game pieces, not the pizza place). I always wondered how they decided who would be which domino and where they got their costumes from.

a hazy pink photo of a ghost standing in a hallway that’s lit by a pink light. The viewer is looking at it from the perspective of a pitch black room where nothing else can be seen in the foreground. I’ve never gotten into dressing up for Halloween as an adult, but I know what I’d pick if I did.

A ghost.

Think about it: you get to stay warm, comfortable, and anonymous under your cozy bedsheet, gently frighten the locals without resorting to anything gory or offensive, and maybe even rattle some cool metal chains.

What’s not to like about that?

It’s a vastly underrated costume choice if you ask me. I haven’t seen anyone dressed up as a ghost in Toronto in years, and I think this deserves a strong comeback.

If I’m going to dress up, it’s going to be in something comfortable and practical even if it is Halloween.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: The Weirdest Thing I Loved as a Child

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A photograph of a very old graveyard. The gravestones are covered in moss and have most of their etchings either hidden by moss or worn away. The largest and nearest one has begun to bend over and looks like it might soon fall over entirely. Please note that this post includes references to child mortality and epidemics because little Lydia read tons of stories about (typically Victorian-era) children who caught all sorts of unpleasant illnesses. This will be a general overview, and I will not be going into detail about specific characters, individuals, or causes of death.

The weirdest thing I loved as a child was visiting the pre-1950 (ish?) sections of graveyards, figuring out how old the people there were when they died, and trying to guess what might have killed them and if they would have survived if they had access to modern medicine. I was most interested in the gravestones of those who died young because almost everyone I knew who died had done so at a ripe old age.

Why was I interested in this? Well, there were a few reasons for it:

1)  I’ve always thought cemeteries are beautiful and peaceful places to remember the dead. I liked seeing the pretty tombstones, reading names on them that maybe weren’t so commonly used these days, and pondering their creative epitaphs.

2) Getting sick made me anxious in small part because of how many classic novels I’d read about kids being disabled or killed by all sorts of diseases that can now be cured with medications like antibiotics or prevented entirely with vaccines. (See also: Beth March from Little Women, Helen Burns from Jane Eyre, and Mary Ingalls from the Little House books). It was always nice to go to the library later on, or maybe ask my mother who was training to become a nurse back then, and learn about how modern medicine has radically changed the world in this regard.

3) It made getting vaccinated slightly less horrible. I still hated needles, but at least I knew why vaccines were so important.

4)  I liked being scared, and it was frightening to read lists of names on a gravestone who died one right after the other and realize they were probably related and suffered from the same illness.

In conclusion, I have a bit of a gothic side. Don’t tell anyone. 😉

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