By Mona Jean Harley
Wednesday, March 17, 2021. I am feeling such nostalgia and wonder today as I reflect on the significance of Wednesday connections today and throughout the years. I’m working from home today, the one day per week I still work remotely during this COVID-19 pandemic. It is reminiscent of every day that I worked from home starting almost exactly one year ago, through the end of last school year. It was quite a different experience last spring to do school social work from my grown daughter’s bedroom! Years ago on Wednesdays I would play with my then young daughter in that same bedroom, and later my son would join us, when I worked part time and was home on Wednesdays. When my daughter began Kindergarten I started to volunteer in her classroom on Wednesdays, and then 4 years later I started volunteering in my son’s classroom on Wednesdays, too. During my part-time years I took a yoga class from a neighborhood yogi on Wednesdays and also an exercise class at the Y. As the kids exited elementary school and I had more quiet time on Wednesdays, I tried taking time to journal or read by the fire on chilly days, and on the breezy porch in milder weather.
I’m reminded today of another Wednesday ritual I experienced years ago, in the late ’80s. My husband and I had just moved to Madison, Wisconsin to attend graduate school, leaving our families in Indiana where we had both grown up. I remember our first apartment off of Fish Hatchery Road. On Wednesdays I had one class in the morning, then I would take the bus home. In nice weather I would get off the bus on the north side of the Beltline, walk along Fish Hatchery Road over the Beltline to our apartment, rather than spending an extra tweny minutes on the Madison Metro winding around endless frontage roads! On one of my parents’ first visits to Madison I recall my dad exclaiming that he had never seen so many roads that led to nowhere!
Upon arriving at our apartment either by foot or by bus, I would eagerly get the mail, and like clockwork, there would be a letter from Alan’s mom. She would write about the weather, church activities, her siblings who lived close by, and her second grade students. I would read the letter a second time before I picked out just the right stationery, sat down at the table, and would write a reply.
Writing letters has always been a joy of mine, the action of writing, the feel and the beauty of the perfect card or paper. When I was young one of my Christmas gifts every year from my grandma was a box of stationery. I recall Betsy Clark & Holly Hobbie notecards, and round paper stationery covered in little woodland creatures with words in a spiral stating, “We all plan to write when we get around to it, now I can do it, I’ve got a round tuit!” And in the very center of the paper was a little brown wooden coin that had the letters “t-u-i-t.” I thought that was so clever! I enjoyed writing my letter on the plain side of that stationery, in a dizzying spiral pattern. I would always save the last beautiful notecard or piece of stationery as a way to treasure the special gifts from Grandma.
Those Wednesday letters from my mother-in-law in the late 1980s transformed years later into Wednesday phone calls from her, my friend. She would still tell me about the weather, church activities, her siblings who lived close by, and sometimes stories about her former second grade students. But now she also wanted to hear stories about her two grandchildren, and she would delight in their antics.
She and I would enjoy sharing the simple life pleasures we were experiencing, with our common sensibilities growing through the years. I knew the kinds of things that would delight her…the first crocus peeking out from melting snow, an evening stroll in the light of the full moon, making her mother’s delicious bran muffins, receiving a letter or card from me.
Just today on this Wednesday, I sat down to play the piano. I opened a book of Bach music and was sight reading many compositions. I started playing a Musette, quickly realizing that I had memorized this as a teenager. The notes were rolling off of my fingers much more smoothly and fluidly than with any of the other pieces I was playing. I felt a sense of excitement and wonder that I still knew so many measures by heart, after all of these years. A sudden urge to text Dorothy, my dear second mom, leaped into my mind. In an instant I could imagine her excitement when she heard the ping from the text message, then her warm smile growing across her face as she read my text about the music that I still knew by heart, after all of these years.
In the next moment I remembered the reality that she had passed away two years ago next Wednesday, yet I knew by heart the love that we would always feel for each other.
© 2021 Mona Jean Harley
Mona Jean Harley was delighted to stumble across the “First Monday First Person” writing group in Madison Wisconsin in the fall of 2018, which has been a perfect space to become more fully inspired in writing and in paying attention to life.” Noticing connections as she experiences life is expressed in her living and writing.