Writing on the wall captures memories

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It is the job of a parent to create order out of a somewhat chaotic world, to orchestrate the subtle and the major things within a child’s life. For some, one of those little things can be found at the measuring wall.
The wall. It surprised me, while visiting with a woman who was the fourth child out of 10 siblings, that she mentioned one of her greatest memories was that her father put her in charge of the measuring wall.
I knew, without asking, just exactly what she was talking about.
She said, “It was uncanny, really, that Daddy put me in charge of such a little thing that somehow made me feel so big.”
About every three or four months, she was reminded that it was time to line her siblings up for the yardstick mark. She said she remembers sharpening her pencil, standing on a step-stool so that she could reach her older brothers.
“I took a lot of pride in doing that job right, because it was understood that those marks with names and dates beside them were going to be there forever,” she recalled.
Second thoughts. Another friend just recently told me that when her husband offered to build them a new home a few years ago, she was understandably excited at the thought.
But, when it came time to move from their home of several years, the measuring wall where she had marked her youngest son’s growth, from age 6 to 16, gave her extreme second thoughts.
She stood at that wall, remembering the passing years as those tiny little pencil marks showed her Alex growing from little boy to a teen to a young man. She wondered how she could leave that wall behind.
“I couldn’t bring myself to erase it or paint over it. I just couldn’t.”
Like she left it. Fortunately, she had grown to like the couple who purchased their home, and she explained the sentimentality within that single wall. They understood.
“So, I was able to walk away from that measuring wall, and regardless of what they did with it, in my mind, I am able to think of that wall as still being there, just the way I left it!” Vicki said with a grin.
I remember lining up with my siblings for the measurement and feeling a surge of pride in comparing my earlier marks.
The years rolled by, with the blink of an eye, and I found myself as the mom with the measuring stick, instructing my two children on how to put their heels against the wall for an accurate height measurement.
No way! It was always amazing to me – how could they have grown so much before my very eyes, in six months time?
The year that my son went from age 11 to 12, he grew a full 11 inches. If I hadn’t marked it, I would have found it hard to believe.
Unlike my friend Vicki, I never had the pangs of leaving a measuring wall behind. A house fire in December of 2000 took that and many other treasured mementos.
As we prepare to sell this, my children’s life-long home, that is one thing I would have had a hard time leaving behind, of that I am certain.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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