(Yes, that’s not a tricycle, but it is evidence of my sister’s love for the color purple.)
It’s my sister’s birthday–many happy returns, Amy!–and I remembered at lunchtime something that I believe happened fifty years ago today; it’s one of my earliest firm memories.
Fall 1968 was a momentous period for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Stone-Campbell Restoration movement of the early 1800s, one with its origins about twenty miles from my current home, began as a call for unity. As the years passed, theological tensions grew and (ironically but perhaps inevitably) the movement ended dividing in three: Church of Christ, independent Christian, and Disciples of Christ. The Fall 1968 General Assembly of the DoC, in Kansas City, was the final step for the Disciples choosing officially to become a denomination and in effect formally splitting from independent Christians. My father, then a Disciples minister, was at that gathering; I don’t believe he voted in favor of the motion.
The Assembly officially ended on October 2. We had moved from La Grange to Stanford not quite a month earlier. I’m certain Dad would have driven and not flown, so yes, it’s possible he didn’t make it home on Amy’s birthday, especially if he didn’t leave early. But I know what happened whenever it was he arrived. I’m there in the living room, when he comes through the front door. My sister, newly three years old, is in front of me, jumping up and down not only to hug him, but to take from him the birthday gift he’s bearing: a tricycle. Not just any tricycle, though: a purple one (that’s been Amy’s favorite color her entire life), with sparkly tassels attached at the end of the purple handlebar grips. I’m not finding any pictures of her with it–one from around three years later, next to her purple bicycle (complete with banana seat!) will have to do. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure she and I had a blast racing around our basement in Stanford any number of times (my trike was a more standard red, courtesy of Sears).
Never being ones to throw items with sentimental attachment away, my parents held on to those trikes well past our youth, until they partially disintegrated. As it happens, a banged-up Frankentrike, perhaps used by nephew and niece years ago, was still in their garage at the end; it now sits in the storage unit I’ve been renting for the last three years. My frame, but her seat and handlebars, tassels long ago pulled out.
Happy birthday, my dear sister.