Monday, January 25, 2010
SOMETIMES YOU NEED A BRICK
During the winter, we would have bales of hay placed around the house for insulation. Around and on top of the hay, my mother would put bricks. Over the winter, the bricks would be strewn about and in the spring, we would have to pick up the bricks and stack them beside the well house. I would always grumble about the bricks and suggest we get rid of them but my mother would always answer, "Sometimes you need a brick". We did use the bricks for a lot of things: door stop in the summer, a brick and a hammer to crack nuts, shards for flower pots, etc.
My mother would often tell us how brave her sister was because she never screamed out while in labor and her sister bore her six children, all at home. Mother told us that when my aunt was ready to have one of her children, it was in "the dead of winter" and the house was very cold. Mother heated bricks and put them in the bed to keep her sister warm during the labor. My aunt pushed the towel off one of the bricks and touched her foot on the hot brick.. Mother said all that she did during the labor was complain about the burn on her foot instead of the pain of childbirth.
When I was to be married, my mother wrapped up a brick with a note that read, "The first brick for your first house." I laughed, wondering what I would do with the brick, but my husband and I have used that brick to crack hickory nuts every year for my Thanksgiving specialty Hickory Nut Cake.
Each time I host a wedding shower, I also wrap a brick with the note which reads, "The first brick for your first house" and then I have the guests play a game called "Sometimes You Need A Brick". I tell the story of my mother and then challenge them to list different ways to use a brick. The best one is always "HUSBAND TAMER".
Last year, when my husband wanted to repair the brick walk in the front yard, he wanted to be able to match up the old bricks. He wondered where he could get old bricks. I told him I would call the current owner of the farm where we had lived to see if they had disposed of the bricks. When I spoke to him, he laughed and said, "I wondered why there were all those bricks around the well house." I laughed and said, "Sometimes you need a brick!" He told me that I was welcome to have the bricks. I had not been back to the home place since 1973 and I was overwhelmed by both sadness and happiness. I asked if I could see inside the house and I was somehow touched to see that my room, with the beautiful sycamore tree growing outside, was still "the girl's room". As I stood at the well, I was flooded with memories as I remembered my younger brother going off to war, my older brother going off to be married and the worst day for our family in October, 1964. I remembered my first date when my brother thought it would be an absolutely hilarious thing to be waiting on the porch with a rifle. Imagine that the guy came back for a second date and ended up marrying me! I sat down in the stairway where my then boyfriend (and future husband) and I sat and watched the moon landing. We'd had a contest of what would be the first words Armstrong would utter and my husband's contribution was "Goddard, we are here!" which was his homage to Robert Goddard and J.J. Pershing! I remembered how we sat on the couch in the "TV Room" on June 7, 1971, and decided to get married. It was good to see the paw paw tree, the elder flowers, black berries, the woods and the flowers still growing which my mother had planted, and the garden space which she had tended. As my husband was picking up the last of the bricks, I retrieved one and said to the owner, "Keep one of the bricks and tell your daughter that it's the first brick to her first house."