It’s The Small Things

People often tell you, “Don’t sweat the small things,” and that’s good advice when it comes to things that disturb you. However, it’s the small things that often bring us joy, and enrich that joy  initially felt when remembered years later. It could be the time your mother told you that a drawing you made was “really good,” or the time your father complimented you on your skill at driving nails into wood.

Significant life events tend to take over your conscious mind—graduations, first jobs, weddings, the birth of a child, the death of a grandparent, or what you were doing when JFK was assassinated. You have to dig deeper to remember the small things, but it is worth the effort because you can find many gems that will delight you. Here are some that I have found on my quest to remember the small things.

The Red Ball
When I was about five or six years old, I received a red ball for Christmas. My cousins visited that day, and we went to play ball on Wishart Street. Several minutes into playing, the ball rolled on to Howard Street, and a car ran over it. My red ball’s demise upset me so much that I still remember the event vividly. Every time I remember this negative occurrence, I also remember those fabulous Christmas days when the whole family gathered, and the great fun we had.

The Toy Garage
One Christmas sometime in the early 1950s, I received a toy garage, complete with a car lift. The Korean War had started, and my brother-in-law had been drafted. Before he left for basic training, I placed several toy soldiers on the car lift and told him to watch. Then I quickly pushed the lift’s lever, and the soldiers all flew out of the garage as if they had been bombed. I don’t know what my brother-in-law felt at that time, but years later, I still feel shame for doing it. The memory also reminds me of just how important my brother-in-law was as a role model for both my brother and me.

Fish in the Face
My grandfather, Harry Hird, was an avid fisherman as well as a real jokester. More than once, while I watched him prepare his catch, which was mostly flounder, he would smack me in the face with the fish. He didn’t hit me hard enough to hurt, and my other family members always laughed. It was a small price to pay for a lifetime of memories of happy family gatherings in Wildwood, fishing with my grandfather, and just enjoying each other’s company.

Eight Balls
When I was about eight years old, I often visited my father’s poolroom after school. It was at Lee Street and Alleghany Avenue on the second floor. Dad would show my brother and me tricks and even play pool with us. Usually, we broke, and then he sank all the balls. Dad was a champion player. One day as he watched, I ran eight balls in a row. I was probably nine years old then. Dad wasn’t the type of guy who gave out praise lightly, but on that day, he told me that I was getting very good and that I would be a terrific player one day. I never forgot that, and I can see it vividly in my mind 67 years later.

In 1986 the family visited us in Atlanta, and I found a poolroom nearby. Dad, my brother-in-law, and I played several games, and like always, dad won them all. Little did I know that he would be playing his last game with us that day. My father passed away in his sleep that evening.

I could write volumes about how the small memories of my life bring me joy. I guess that in a way I did. My series of novels, The Mercy Row series, is fiction, but in all four volumes, I included many of those small events from my youth growing up in Kensington, Philadelphia.

“It’s great to reminisce about the good memories of my past. It was enjoyable when it was today. So learning to enjoy today has two benefits: it gives me happiness right now, and it becomes a good memory later.”

  • George Foreman

Originally posted on The Kensington Neighborhood Alumni Group on Facebook.

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