This afternoon while I was driving to the office, a red wagon with a little blonde boy in it was being pulled across Main Street at the Yorktown intersection. Seeing the kid in the wagon caused a very pleasant flashback to my boyhood.
When I was 4 or 5, I had my own "little red wagon." It was called the D.R.S. Express--based on the initials of my name, Donald Ray Sewell. I don't really remember much about that wagon. The most vivid memory about the D.R.S. is associated with the older kids (young adults?) who lived at the end of my street. I think they baby sat for me from time to time--or at least watched out for me when I played outside.
I say it's a vivid memory, but that's really overstating the case. It's actually a pretty fuzzy memory, like most people's early childhood memories turn out to be. I don't really remember these neighbors much at all. What they looked like. Their names. Their number (were there 2 or 3 or 4 of them?). I can't even remember their gender--although I know one of them was a girl/woman.
I just remember having a wonderful time with them. I remember feeling secure in their presence. I remember my own wild laughter and the wind blowing in my face as they pulled and pushed me in their back yard and up and down the street.
It occurred to me today that it's probably a very healthy thing that I don't remember the details of those red-wagon moments and all the other day-to-day experiences of my earliest years. Usually the memories that are seared into young minds are associated with pain and trauma. I don't remember my nursery workers at church. I don't remember any of the adults I encounterd as a toddler or a pre-schooler. I don't remember them because they were good, helpful, unassuming, encouraging people who had my protection and well-being as their highest priority.
In the crazy world we live in, I know there are thousands of children--very young children--who are forced to experience horrors and tragedies that will ever remain with them. They will bear the scars of those life wounds as long as they live. They will remember--either consciously or sub-consciously--and the memory will serve as a quiet echo of their early pain.
So when I saw that little boy enjoying his Saturday afternoon ride in his Radio Flyer wagon, I was reminded of how very blessed I have been to have enjoyed the protection and care of good people throughout my life. I was reminded of how thankful I should be to all those people who were there to pick me up when I stumbled, wipe away my tears, change my diaper, rock me when I cried in the nursery, and give me exciting afternoon rides in my D.R.S. Express.