Yesterday's Magazette

12 – Respect

Respect Begins At Home

By Marion Tickner

My elderly neighbor Alma and I sat under the tree, enjoying a summer day. Two little girls came running into the yard, calling out, “Hi Alma!”

Alma? Not Mrs. Litz? As a child, I would never have dared call an adult by the first name. Where’s the respect?

Respect is taught at home, in spoken word and by example. In all my life I had never heard my mother say one word against my father, nor he against her. It was a loving respectful relationship that my mother passed on to her children.

Esther and Florence, although my mother’s age, were my grandmother’s first cousins. We children were taught to call them “Cousin.” Cousin Esther. Cousin Florence. It still feels like Cousin was part of their first name. Likewise, it’s always Aunt in front of an aunt’s name.

Showing respect is not only in addressing adults, but also respecting other people’s property.

While visiting Grandma my brother and I were put down for our naps, Kenneth in Grandma’s bed and I in another room. How I hated to take time out from my busy day for a nap. Eventually, I wandered into Grandma’s room to look around. Her bible and colored pencils were on the nightstand beside her bed. I knew better than to color in her bible, but the wall? At home our walls were covered with pretty paper. Her bedroom wall was boring. No paper, no color, just plain wall.

Even at that young age I tended to be a creative person. The room needed to be sparked up a bit. I selected my favorite color and went to work. When finished, I went back to my room to wait out the time until Mama said I could get up.

Mama saw it first. As an old friend used to say, “When I needed to be punished, my mother brushed my hair, and then used the other side of the brush on the other end of the child.” That day she didn’t take time to brush my hair first.

The business end of the brush taught me a lesson in respecting property of others. A few  years later apparently I needed another lesson, this time in a person’s personal belongings.

Kenneth and I were partners in crime. I was the brains of the outfit, thinking up things for him to do. This time, however, involved more than just my brother. It was at a family get-together at Grandma’s. We were all there: aunts, uncles, cousins, a friend of the family and Cousin Florence. While the grown-ups were visiting in another room, we children played in the living room. Cousin Florence had left her purse in plain view. Temptation became too great. I always wondered what ladies carried around with them and now I had my chance. I opened and dumped. What fascinating things we found.

“Let’s play hide the thimble,” I suggested.

Under my direction, we hid everything around the room—under couch cushions, on windowsills, behind nick-knacks. Still the leader, a cowardly one at that, I handed my cousin a dollar bill and sent him to tell Grandma we found it.

As if an alarm sounded, the grown-ups rushed in to investigate. Grandma knew there was no money lying around the room. Then began the game of hunting, not the thimble, but Cousin Florence’s treasures. Everything was found except her medicine. I distinctly remembered hiding a little bottle of something on the windowsill behind the curtain, but I kept my secret.

While someone called the doctor because they thought we ate the medicine, my mother took me into another room and applied the hand of instruction on the seat of understanding.

During my early childhood, our telephone was on a party line. Our ring was two long and two short. One day when my mother wasn’t around, I heard the ring that wasn’t ours. I allowed time for the call to be answered, then I picked up to listen. I might have even made strange noises or comments on the phone.

Apparently, someone complained to my mother and she wanted my father to do something about it. Her daughter would never do anything like that. I don’t know what she expected him to do other than get a private line, which probably cost a fortune at the time.

This time I cried, not because of punishment, but because my mother’s family had been rightfully accused. I never confessed, but I never did it again.

As I think back now the tearful lessons learned over the years, left a lasting impression on me. Thank you, Mom, for instilling in me respect and all the lessons of life you taught me.

Vol. 40 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – 2013

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