And yes, nature lovers,it was a flying squirrel. I googled them up and found quite a bit of information on little guys. They range almost all over the United States and parts of Canada. They are nocturnal, small, and have skin webs between their legs that when they are extended serve as sails. In pictures when airborne, they look like flying handkerchiefs. Apparently,they mostly glide rather than fly,
Which is all to say that when I reflect on the previous 62 years, it's amazing how many 'firsts" are burned indelibly in my mind. I suspect it is the same for you. Yes, we've all suffered on those awful unexpected firsts no one could ever want. But when it comes to "top of mind" things -- it's the happy firsts that really matter.
Yes, I am sure we can all recall there are many common firsts in the human experience. The first love, the first day you could drive a car, the first time you ... well, you know.
I'm writing about some of the many other firsts that when you start putting them together really define your life. I started to reflect on them and the more I pondered, the more I remembered clearly. These are the memories that matter and allow us to get through the tough times.
My first dear wife, Kay, died of a rare cancer at age 41, but not before she presented two fine children to me -- Kris and Dave. I remember the first time I saw Kay after she delivered each one more than I remember seeing them. I guess my first thought was for my wife, and then for the kids. So the first memory of each of them is their mom.
I have been divorced -- imprudence on my part, I suppose -- and a truly horrible experience. My first remembrance from that brief disaster was one of escape. The first time I saw the single apartment two-room apartment I would rent in Plainsboro, NJ, by myself I felt a sense of elation I can clearly recall. It was as if my life had been handed over to me again. Oh, I didn't straighten out my life from that point on. It wasn't all uphill and I sank a bit further before I could bounce back. It took a good woman -- Rita -- to help me do that.
My first remembrance of Rita was in a classroom at Prudential in Horsham, Pennsylvania. It was in 1995. I was teaching a securities class and she and another woman marched into my classroom -- this was a day I clearly recall. Rita and ?? were different than my average students in that they were Pru management to begin with and the others were new hires, mostly recent high school graduates.
Other life shaping first remembrances: walking up a "big" flight of steps to enter Kindergarten at the Bohamton School in Edison, NJ, in 1951. The school is still standing and there are only two steps leading up to the door.
I recall clearly my first day leaving home for Little Rock Air Force Base in January 1969. My mother crying and my father driving me to Newark Airport in kind of an awkward silence. We didn't communicate in the same way young folks communicate with parents now, I think. It was a cold bitter day, and when I arrived in Little Rock a few hours later, it was 80 degrees. I thought I had arrived in hell. Looking back, I think I left one family to join another there -- people in the Service look out for each other.
Other big firsts: seeing Phil for the first time in uniform (Valley Forge Military) and on parade in 2006. What a proud moment,and what a magnificent positive, academic turnaround Phil made there.
And shortly after joining Rita, Phil and Meredith as family in 2001, I clearly recall Meredith running away from home for the first -- and only -- time walking out with a brown bag of candy and chips and wearing a bathrobe. She was 12 years old She left a note that told us not to worry and don't be upset, but she was "sick of this shit!" She came back 2 hours latter. It got dark out.
When Dave graduated Penn State and took a job in D.C., I remember our first real goodbye. I packed a van load of stuff up with him to drive to his first solo apartment in Virginia. I was filled with pride and hopes for his future, also with great regret that his mother could not be there that day. I felt the same pride and regret for Kris as she graduated from West Point and I saw her march across that huge parade ground to the graduation ceremony. Her mother so wanted her to finish West Point.
The first time I met my dear daughter-in-law, Stacey, was in 2002. and I recall her charm. elegance and graciousness like a true Southern Belle Beauty Pageant Queen. I challenged her to do her runway Pageant walk, and she, with a great sense of humor, did just that. We all smiled.
Too many other firsts to write about., although I wold love to record each and every one of them thinking of them now on a beautiful Labor Day Weekend. I see how they have framed my life in a very positive way. Kind of like a huge quilt with different unique colorful squares woven together.
Maybe the flying squirrel won't be in that quilt when if is finally finished. But I am looking forward to putting many more squares into it before its complete.
Your comments are welcome, including any of the firsts you care to share!