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Sunday, May 22, 2011



We hang onto some things in our lives for many reasons—it belonged to a parent, a relative, a friend, a husband, our children or our grandchildren and we treasure those things. And maybe no one will ever know our reasoning for doing such but rest assured that the keeper does. I had written about this before that we sometimes keep way too much: Most of us are guilty. But some things give us something far beyond tangible.

One of the most special things to me is a yellow flowered lamp shade. It’s old, it’s turned a golden hue, it’s fragile and yet, when I look at it in my bedroom it gives me such a feeling of being cared for and safe.

You’re asking, “What can a lamp shade do but cover a light bulb on a lamp?” And I’d respond that you are probably right but not this specific one—ever. You see, I didn’t meet my dad until I was five: I thought that my step-grandfather was my dad. Even went as far as to call myself Sherry Morgan [Morgan was his last name] and my mother and I lived with my grandparents. Where was my dad prior?

He had been in the army in WWII, enlisted in 1941 and stayed in the army long way after the war was over. My mom met him at a dance at the Greenbrier Hotel here in West Virginia; he had been sent here as at that time it was an army hospital “Ashford General.” Although a sergeant, he was sent to do physical therapy with the wounded soldiers. [My dad was wounded too but his wound was a gunshot that grazed the top of his head; did have a metal plate inserted and had it the rest of his life.] My dad did receive a purple heart. Both of these incidents happened after he left the Greenbrier: He fought in Germany and Normandy.

Not really sure when my parents got married but I do know that my dad had returned to the army. My mom divorced him when I was three.  And then two years later, he came back here and they remarried!

I was oblivious to all of this with the exception of seeing my dad get out of a taxicab in front of my grandparent’s house—I don’t think I had ever seen a more handsome man in my entire little five years. And he had on his full uniform that made me wonder who he was.

“Hi!” he said as he grabbed me up with both arms. “I’m your dad!” All I could do was stare at him in shock and amazement for I already had a dad or so I thought. Two dads? No, I reasoned to myself that no one I knew had two dads but I still didn’t understand a thing. And that was a good thing on my part for my grandparents got furious at my mom for remarrying him because that would mean that I would be taken away from them.

Like a big fog encompassed everything in my life for I couldn’t take it all in—it was too much to try to rationalize. The next thing I knew, I was at my great aunt’s house [Ruthie] on Edgewood Drive. My grandparents weren’t around, my mom wasn’t and neither was my newly-found dad—just Aunt Ruthie, her husband and me.[ I would find out much later on that my parents had gone a small honeymoon somewhere.] Aunt Ruthie loved to spoil me and she sure did those three days. Took me to a movie at the Virginian theater, then to eat at King’s Restaurant and bought me a box of those many different colored Lifesavers and that was the first day!

Came the first night at her house and that scared lost feeling came all over me: It was the first time I ever felt it. Aunt Ruthie had put me in a twin bed in a bedroom next to hers and her husband’s. Tears started flowing from my eyes so much that I couldn’t see and I remember screaming “Aunt Ruthie!” She came running into the room, held me and cradled me. Told me that things would be all right and to look at that yellow flowered lamp shade on the lamp that sat on a table beside me. Seemed like forever that I stared at it and felt her warmth till I finally went to sleep.

There isn’t enough room here to write what transpired over the years; in actuality, I did in my autobiography but that’s another story in itself—a long and unbelievable one.

But after my Aunt Ruthie died, her daughter gave my mom and me tons of things from her house. What did I ask for first? That yellow flowered lamp shade and I got it. And to this day, I have it on replaced lamp and at night, when it’s dark, that lamp is turned on in the bedroom where I sleep. That shade has the power to evoke being cared for, cradled and loved even if it is what it is, for it is far more than that to me—it’s my safety net. And as long as I live, it always will be.

Sherry Hill


  1. Yes, Sherry, we do tend to hold on to some unusual things that are reminiscent of childhood. Throughout many cross-country moves, I've still got my mom's porcelin hen. It's truly a vintage item - about 7 inches long and 5 inches high. The top half of the chicken is a lid. I'm not sure what's meant to go inside - maybe candy - but over the years, it has held all matter of small things. My mom always displayed it somewhere in her kitchen. So, it's a happy memory, and it always finds a place in my home. There were lots of fancier and certainly more expensive household items that I could have kept after my mom passed. But I wanted the porcelin hen. More than anything else, it reminds me of mom.

  2. We do don't we? I'm sure that the covered ceramic chicken brings you smiles just as this lamp shade does to me. [I have one of those chickens too--it belonged to my grandmother: Nothing was kept in them. But your mom and you have put it to good use.] Your mom was so wonderful;never met a stranger and wanted to do everything for a person. That's how my aunt was to me [she was my real grandfather's sister] and I'm so grateful.