As a small child in the 1960s Sundays still held that wonderful feeling that it was like no other day of the week. Stores were all closed and there was a sort of hush all about. There were people who went to church every Sunday and those who just believed and went on religious holidays. My family was a mixture of both. Since I attended Latvian school on Saturdays there were all kinds of occasions when we as a family would attend church on Sundays. The Sundays that we spent at home were extra special to a little girl called Rasma growing up in the borough of Brooklyn, in the lovely neighborhood of Bay Ridge, in the incredible city of New York.
Since my parents worked all week long my mom absolutely insisted on sleeping in on a Sunday mooring but my dad working as an editor for the Latvian newspaper ”LAIKS” or ”Time” it meant reading the New York Times to prepare foreign and vital news for the paper and have it translated as there were Latvians who subscribed to the paper and preferred to read their news in Latvian. So as the sun’s rays came over the horizon dad would call to me and we’d get ready to go to the nearest newspaper stand.
My earliest and best memories began when I was 5 and the year was 1962. It seems like a lifetime ago but still right there in my mind. I remember walking down the quiet streets where it all seemed just like a Sunday should be. Shuttered stores and a special feel in the air so different from any other day. Dad and I would walk along for several blocks. On one corner was my favorite shop. It was a pet shop and even on Sundays, there were puppies in the window. Since the window and the puppies were at my eye level I spent some moments enjoying them while my dad patiently waited nearby.
Next, we would stop to buy the newspapers he needed. There was always one specific newsstand to which he’d go and it was still the time of friendly and open people. The vendor always greeted him with a big smile and they exchanged a few words, about the weather, about how the family was, and about how great it was to always see him on Sunday mornings. He would buy the extra big and bulky New York Times and the Daily News especially since it had comics for me.
If the weather and the season permitted our next stop was right across the street. There was a small square which had been made into a park and had some benches. While dad sat down and started sorting his newspapers I would scamper about among the few trees there and watch the squirrels climbing among the branches and the pigeons flying about. Dad would give me some unshelled peanuts and I would coax the squirrels to come to take them from me. On particularly warm and sunny Sunday mornings it was hard to want to go back home but I knew mom would be waiting with a great Sunday morning breakfast.
As soon as dad and I entered the apartment usually the smell of pancakes was in the air. Now being Latvian my dad didn’t like syrup on his pancakes but preferred lingonberry or cranberry preserves. They could be bought in specialty stores but when the berries were in season mom usually made these preserves herself. The little girl at their table preferred to stuff her face with pancakes and sour cream. It was just something I really liked, but if there was still room in my belly at least one pancake with some preserves found its way in there.
Afterward, dad would head over to his desk and begin reading the paper, mom would wash the dishes and read or do some other things which she enjoyed since there was no other time like a Sunday to relax. You know what really brings back fond memories is that I still have that desk and when memories come flooding back I can see dad sitting there. My favorite spot was flat on my stomach, on the carpet in front of the T.V.
However, it never satisfied me to just watch cartoons or other kinds of shows I had to be busy doing something else as well. So I would also have my coloring books and my crayons spread out before me. Whenever dad would take a break he would come over and take a look at what I was watching and perhaps color a page or two with me. You can imagine the sight of a short, little five-year-old girl lying on the carpet next to a tall, big six-foot man with both of our legs stretched out behind us. I sure wish mom had thought to take a picture of this scene.
Those Sundays meant so very much and it didn’t bother me when there were Sundays which took us to church because what was important was that we were all together. Latvian school also provided Bible lessons and I knew I had a friend in Jesus. However, time never stands still and five short years later I was 10 and my dad was gone. For quite a while in the early hours on Sunday mornings, I would think I could hear my dad calling me. It was at this time that my sixth sense was just getting developed and I believe this was happening because it was a great way for my dad to contact me.
My family has all had ties with the world beyond and it was my turn. In a way, I do believe that my dad did call me so I would feel comforted to know that he was near. Sunday mornings had changed but dad was still with us and mom and I went to the cemetery. For anyone who knows otherwise, I knew we were just visiting an empty grave that held my dad’s urn and ashes because his soul had traveled onwards. It was just comforting to be there and there were times when I saw the image of my daddy looking at us through the trees and he was smiling. So I will always treasure those special Sunday mornings when we were all together.