The firsts in our lives make up lasting memories

What “firsts” in your life’s experiences stand out in your memory?

Maybe one was when you managed to balance the two-wheel bike and ride several yards down the road, wobbling but amazingly remained upright.

You may remember the first loose tooth’s being pulled and the ever-so-strange feeling of running your tongue in that gap.

Each person has his or her own memorable “firsts.”

I can still sense the exhilaration of how I felt when I reflect on the moment of getting the hang of swimming.

My uncles had a concrete irrigation pool into which water was pumped up the hill from the spring. Gravity then carried the water through pipes to the sweet potato plant beds on lower ground. When the pool was full and the water was not needed for that day, we kids were allowed to play in it--provided we were very careful not to step on the strainer surrounding the outlet pipe at the bottom of the pool on the west end.

Others had learned the strokes, but I couldn’t keep my head above water for the few feet across the pool--until that day! I felt that I had conquered the world!

The first funeral that I attended was that of my grandmother. It was a little like church, but it wasn’t; it was a little like family and community get-togethers, but it wasn’t. I had no idea how I was supposed to act.

I felt so out of place and uncomfortable that sadness of her death did not sink in at all. Only when I went to the house, saw her empty rocking chair, and sensed the quiet did my love for her pour out.

My first high heel shoes were white, selected to complement my ready-made white linen suit to be worn on Class Night, ahead of high school graduation. I was nor nearly as excited about getting my diploma as I was about wearing those grown-up shoes with my cap and gown.

I practiced walking in them at home, hoping to perfect natural-looking steps that would not reveal my inexperience. I made it through both events without embarrassing myself, but I must admit, my feet were hurting so badly that my appearance became secondary to my getting the shoes off as soon as possible.

My first view of the ocean was overwhelming. I simply could not take my eyes off that massive expanse, a continuously changing scene. I realized in that moment that the very best pictures simply cannot show what mountains, forests, spreading plains and all natural wonders really look like until you see them in person.

As a young farm wife in the 1950s, I was on the Southern States Home Advisory Committee. I connected with a lady from Warren County and we joined a group flying in a small plane to Richmond, Virginia for the annual meeting. The overall experience was educational and enjoyable, but I quickly decided that flying was not for me. If I got home safely through prayer, I did not plan to fly ever again.

However, some years later in my professional life, I was told by my superior to attend a weeklong conference in Madison, Wisconsin. I was to learn all I could on the topic being presented and bring it back to Kentucky’s librarians. Driving that distance was not an option, and I liked my job too much to risk refusal. I made it there and back, and even another such assignment to San Antonio, but no more off-the-ground trips are in my plans. The larger airlines planes made no difference. My fear of that very first flight still rises up and keeps me grounded.

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