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BW 15 Barbara Geoff 2022


Barbara’s Life Lessons

Barbara’s Life Lessons

Ruminating over the past and conjecturing about the future is one way I can waste irreplaceable hours of my life. There has been lots of time to ruminate and conjecture over the last few years. On those nights when I couldn’t sit and stare at some streamer series, I flipped through photo albums and boxes of pictures. I smiled. I cried. I shook my head in disbelief over what I looked like back then, what I wore, how I knew the other people in the photos, what they meant to me, how much they’d given to me and how much I learned from them. That’s the best part of looking at old pictures. I see things in a new way, feel joy I missed in the moment captured and find love and forgiveness for myself and others I’ve met in life. Bliss.

It’s good to be first. Josephine Nardone and Frank Clum married on August 17, 1946. I arrived on July 12, 1949, my parent’s first child and the first grandchild on my mother’s side.

BW 1 Bearskin Rug

The older I get the more I think about using this as the photo on my holiday card.

Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. I was walking and talking by the time I was a year old. Progressive and worried mothers back then strapped their toddlers into harnesses and leashes like the one I’m wearing here so we could run around but not run away. I’m not sure how baby leashes would go down today.

BW 2 Birdbath

Barbara in a birdbath. 

There’s always time for a good story and good grooming. My mother read to me every day, made my clothes, dressed me up, did my hair and had professional photos taken every year. I loved it.

BW 3 age3 book watch

I wanted to be Shirley Temple.

Take the ticket and make your own way home. My mother wanted to be a nurse. Her teachers wanted her to go to college. No. No. Said her father. Learn typing and shorthand and get a paycheck. She chose the same path for me. I learned the skills, got a job, quit and went back to school. In 1973, my typing and shorthand got me my first job in publishing and then I took my career where I wanted it to go.

BW 4 Mommy and Me

Summer Saturday in Prospect Park.

Mistakes happen. Be accountable. Maintain perspective. First Holy Communion is the third of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Faith and celebrated at age seven. The age of reason? My first confession was terrifying. I was playing beauty parlor with the girl across the street and cut her hair. I think every mother on our block went nuts. There was lots of head shaking and finger pointing. So, on the Saturday before my communion, I went into the confessional and begged forgiveness for my mortal sin, convinced that haircut had doomed me to eternal damnation. My mom made my white organdy dress by hand and gave me the Tonette perm. The freckles are all mine. 

BW 5 Communion

Striking my best little angel pose.

When your body talks, listen. Mothering me was not easy. I didn’t sleep. I had colic. I cried from stomach aches. By the time I was off formula and onto milk, I vomited after most feedings. I had my first whipped cream when I was about a year old. My mother sprayed some whipped cream on a piece of pie and gave me a taste. It didn’t stay in my stomach for long, and from that point forward, whenever someone took out the whipped cream can, I cried. Once science caught up with my digestive tract, I learned I had a lactose issue. I still don’t eat whipped cream. 

Whip Cream 2

None for me, thank you.