I don't know if it's dropping Grace off at Kindergarten that has made me reflective on my own childhood or if I've just been thinking a lot lately. In any case, I've been looking back over my life and I've realized how many people I have to thank for shaping me into who I am today. I was sitting in Starbucks last night praying for our preacher of 14 years and his family as they move to Washington to begin a new chapter in their lives. I thought about the friends they made here, and the friends they will make up there. After I finished praying I decided to list out the people who have made an impact on my life. There were some experiences and people that I would have rather skipped over at the time, but now I realize it's all a part of the fabric of my life, the tapestry that tells my story. So, we begin:
The Monzo Family
About a block away at the end of Tioga Street lived a family that is near and dear to my heart. I can not count the number of hours I spent at their home, with their family playing. I have so many childhood memories attached to the Monzo Family, it's hard to remember things without them sometimes! I almost don't know where to begin. Janet has the BEST laugh that is SO very contagious. Steve, in my early memories, spent most of his time on the couch watching baseball, a sport I did not understand nor did I want to. It was BORING!!! Stephen was a couple years younger than me and could scream better than any girl on the block. Rachael was born when I was four. I still remember seeing her for the first time at the hospital. So tiny, so perfect: and Janet let me hold her! I was in HEAVEN!!! I spent HOURS there at their house, holding Rachael and playing with Stephen while our moms visited. Janet sold Tupperware and had quite the collection. I can hardly use anything Tupperware brand now without thinking of the "harvest colors" of Janet's collection. (Every Halloween I think of their two Tuppeware containers full of Stephen and Rachael's candy. Rachael's would be gone within a few weeks, Stephen would usually have some left by the next Halloween!)
I usually walked down to the Monzo's house to play and when I got there Janet would call my mom and let her know I was there. The same thing would happen when it was time for me to go home. The only mystery was how I always got there with my shoes, but managed to get home without them! It was inevitable! You'd think I would notice as I walked back across the gravely road!
As Rachael got older, we played My Little Ponies, Dog & Owner, Pound Puppies, House and all sorts of other games, most of them associated with animals, because Rachael has always had a soft spot in her heart for four footed creatures! (so much so that they had TWO large dogs, Bud (short for Budweiser) and Ginger)
One of my favorite things to do was torment poor Stephen. He was a bit on the "easy to scare" side, and their split level home made it all to easy to startle him! I remember dangling some of his dad's fishing tackle from the stair case as his sister called to him. When he ran into the sticky lure (with no hook of course) he screamed SO loud. It makes me giggle just thinking about it. Sorry Stephen. I know I shouldn't have taken pleasure in your fears, but I was young and dumb, and I think you've forgiven me right? We also thought it was pretty funny to watch Stephen avoid getting water on his face. You'd think it was acid the way he tried so hard to walk around sprinklers, or only get in the pool up to his waist.
Another unique connection to the Monzo's was our going to the same Church as well as being home schooled. At one time, while homeschooling we started a Geography club. We would put a geography question in a large envelope, then walk it down to the Monzo's front door and leave it there. They had three days to answer the question and return the envelope with not only the answer, but also a question for us. It was a lot of fun. We did science fairs, rollerskating days, field trips, and other extra activities with the Monzos.
Sunday's were fun. I was one of Rachael's little mommas and I remember picking her up from class and taking her to her mom. We also created all sorts of games while waiting for our parents to finish talking after services. That's how we created the superhero RachAim! We played the "car game" for hundreds of "church minutes" and again scared Stephen silly with the darkness of the classroom hallway!
"Big Steve" didn't come to Church with Janet and the kids, he stayed home on Sundays. I didn't understand this as a child. My whole family went to Church, why didn't theirs? But Janet was ALWAYS faithful, not only in bringing her family, but also in her constant example and service to her husband. It did not go unnoticed by me. (I think Steve noticed too, because last time I heard, he was attending again.) I learned a lot from the Monzo Family, they blessed my life with friendship that ran deep. We still keep in touch over facebook and with Christmas cards and such. (picture above is Stephen and his mom Janet!)
I almost had a heart attack when Rachael got married, and then again when Stephen and his wife had a baby! Time doesn't stand still, and I wouldn't want it to. Their legacy will continue on, and I am grateful that for many of my childhood years our threads of life were intertwined. (pictured below is Stephen and his baby Miranda, and Rachael and her hubby Josh) Thank you Monzos!