Keeping the child within my heart as I age

Published 7:57 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2017

“Lynn, are you ever going to grow up?” my mother asked as we drove home after my sixty-something  birthday celebration.

I have no idea what led up to the question, but my guess is that I was acting completely silly. Silliness and craziness is part of my DNA. Ask anyone who knows me.

“No, Mom, I have no plans of ever doing that. Do I have to?” I replied and then we both started laughing.

While young, I remember making the conscious effort to always have a part of me remain a kid.

I did not want to lose what it felt like to run and play, to dream, to imagine and to laugh out loud.

I was 8-years-old and waiting for the school bus on the corner across from my house. I, along with several other elementary kids, huddled together in a tight group careful not to stand on the lady’s yard next to the bus stop.

She owned the biggest house on the street and her yard was beautiful. The “Mean Lady” was the only name we knew for her. She lived alone in her quiet rooms without children or laughter. She would scare me to death yelling at the dogs crossing her path and the children chasing after them.

One morning when the fog from the river rose and traveled down our street, a tragedy occurred. My neighbor on the adjacent corner was a sweet little boy with light blond hair and big blue eyes.

He had a small, scrappy terrier that would run like the wind and bark shrilly. He loved that crazy little dog and laughed as the terrier would chase him.

On that misty morning, the dog left the house to find his buddy. We are not sure how he got out, but when he did, he ran to us from across the street at the same time the bus was coming through the fog.

We watched in horror as the tires hit the little terrier. Desperately injured, he battled his way to the neighbor’s yard. We all ran to him. He took his last breath while cradled in his little master’s arms.

Mean Lady ran from her house when she saw what was happening. We all were in tears, including the bus driver, when she yelled at us to get out of her yard.

“And, take that old dog with you!” she screamed.

I never forgot that foggy day. It is still so fresh in my mind, that tears are now falling down my cheeks as I recall the scene. I believe it was that day when I decided that if growing up meant I would lose what it felt like to be a child, then I never wanted to grow up.

My grandmother was always a kid. She loved playing with children more than adults. My cousins and I thought maybe she didn’t have enough toys growing up, so that is why she liked to play with us. I now understand she made the effort to retain part of her childhood for the children she would love in her life.

When my granddaughter was born, I thought, “Wow, now I have someone to play with!” No kidding — I really did think that. I wanted to show her how to play with dolls, to dance as if she were on stage, to run in the rain, to laugh until she got hiccups and to never forget how.

Christmas for me is a perfect event. Not only do I get to legitimately act like a kid, but I get to thank the good Lord for allowing me to still be able to do so. My eyes still sparkle when I see twinkling lights and bright colored ribbon.

There is not one ounce of Bah Humbug in me. I have many flaws, but Scrooge is no relative of mine.

I have no idea why some folks lose all their child like behavior. Aren’t we all just kids who got older?

When I think of the children that look to an adult and see no sparkle and joy, my heart breaks not only for the child, but for the adult as well.

This holiday season, perhaps we should all turn back the clock and recall the happiness of our youth when Christmas thrilled us to the point of clapping our hands and dazzled us with wonder.

It is probably the best gift we can give to the children we love.

The best gift you can give yourself is to give from your heart to a child who is in need. When you do, you might find yourself laughing out loud and hearing someone say, “Honey, are you every going to grow up?”

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former resident and writer who currently resides in Roswell. She can be reached at