Life and Spiritual Coaching

July 7, 2008

The Years of the Innocence

Filed under: Family — by Donna Ritter @ 1:54 pm

There is something about being a child that is so comforting. You don’t think your parents ever make mistakes and you believe bad things happen to other people. You feel protected and loved. Money doesn’t really matter since you only know what you experience and the only hard things are dealing with bullies.

In the beginning of my life I wanted to be a boy. I don’t know why, but I went shirtless until my parents disallowed it. I had a toolset, a cowboy set and if I was given dolls, I stripped them down and dragged them around. I hated dresses, preferring jeans. I always asked my parents when I was going to become a boy. I was a tree climber, outside explorer and general tom boy. I played with mud pies, worms, lizards and frogs. I had the notion that my parents wanted a boy since I was to be named Scott Gregory. Instead I was named Donna Lee which was a female version of my Dad whose name was Donald.

My father was by best friend. All I wanted to do was to please him which was easy. He paid lots of attention to me. At an early age he instilled in me a notion that I could be whatever I wanted to be. He was a PhD in Chemistry from Harvard and once we moved to New Orleans he served as the Dean of the Science Department and later the Dean of the Graduate School. He always had time to help me with my homework and answer any questions. Although research and teaching were his love, he put up with the administration work. He hated Professors who after getting tenure stopped writing and researching.

He used to go to the lab on Saturdays and take me with him. I remember one of my first chemistry tests he taught me was to take dry ice and pour water on it to make smoke. He got me my first chemistry kit when I was about 10 and I loved it.

As kids we didn’t have very much money. My Mom made most of our clothes and the only vacations we took were month back to Connecticut where her mom lived. She had 2 sisters and 2 brothers so there were may cousins. They lived in the country where a kid like me loved to explore. My maternal Grandfather (who I called Poppy – my first word) had a huge vegetable garden. My Grandmother canned and froze the harvest each year. She had a spectacular flower garden. They also had a basement which was exciting for a girl growing up in New Orleans.

Poppy ( my Grandfather) was an Episcopalian Deacon and we’d go here him preach. Poppy was a very funny man who loved his grandchildren. Evert day he would sit at the dinning room table whether dinner was ready or not. He didn’t make a fuss but this made my Grandmother frantic to get dinner on the table. She had one of those wringer washers for a long time and hung the clothes out to dry. She was the best Grandmother in the world. Since she had so many grandchildren, she had a big closet filled with games. In her pantry she also had something I loved – 6-7 kinds of cereal. We always had one at home. Everyone had there own sliver napkin ring and little salt and pepper shakers. There was a special place in the kitchen where she put baked goods for consumption. Even when I got older, if I came home late she would wake up to fix me something to eat.

My Grandmother was a librarian at the Levi Coe library down the hill. The Children’s library was in the basement and I spent hours down there in the musty smelling magical place.

My Mom’s sisters were the oldest and the brother’s were the youngest . They had 13 kids between them. I have one uncle who is five years older than me so my Grandmother and her oldest daughter were pregnant at the same time!

I didn’t grow up with my uncles kids since they were teenagers when I visited. My Dad would join us for 2 weeks and we’d visit his parents in Massachusetts. He was an only child so his parents doted on us. They had a boat that we’d take out to catch fresh lobsters and boil them on the boat.

The main thing that I learned from growing up is it doesn’t matter how much you have, but who you have. Love is what matters – not material goods.

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