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I Peaked Early by Ginger Keller Gannaway

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I Peaked Early

by Ginger Keller Gannaway

As far as looks go, I peaked at age 3.  Some people begin their lives as goofy-looking babies who resemble Winston Churchill or Dick Cheney!  Then these unattractive babes grow to be beautiful, model-level men and women.  For me, reverse that transformation.

I was a C-section baby, and my momma always told me, “You were a perfect baby!  So gorgeous!”  And my first photos do have that happy, healthy, Gerber baby quality.  My favorite early picture of myself was at age 3.  I’m seated on a tricycle and I’m the best-dressed I have ever been!  I’m wearing a simple yet elegant, sexy-short, red and white sun dress with sleeveless tie straps with the cutest bow peeking from the back.  (Even my trike’s handlebars match the red of the dress).  My hair is also the best it has ever been: chic-short, light brown with golden natural highlights and that ultra-cool wave (not quite a waterfall) swoop atop my head.  I confidently show straight white teeth and my perfect complexion glows.

Of course, I doubt I’m even able to ride that tricycle, but just like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model posed on a gleaming surf board, who cares? That lil sun dress, that sporty hair-do, that carefree smile proclaim my best looking days!

Now at the just-turned age of 60, I’m going thru old photos of myself: my 7-year-old long, tangled hair look, my high school mullet-look closely followed by my unfortunate-perm look, my 28 year old short-hair-now-that-I-have-a-baby look, my 36 year old I-have-three-boys-who-cares look, and my 40’s “Oh, my word, I’m a teacher on the verge of wearing jumpers with apple & book appliqués” look.  Then my 50’s look had a tinge of desperation with the bad home-dyed hair look interspersed with this-month-I-paid-for-a-hairdresser look.

And as I sift through shoe boxes, Kodak envelopes, and photo albums from my last 6 decades, I come upon my peak period – age 3.  And seeing that stylish girl dressed in red and white confidently smile at me, I fondly smile back.

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Separate, Yet Together by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Separate, Yet Together  by Ginger Keller Gannaway

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Separate, yet together. Family, right? We may live a 1,000 miles away from each other. We may talk to each other once a month or only on holidays. We exchange emails and Facebook check-ins here and there. We could even be estranged or separated by death or illness, yet these family members run around our minds all the time. For me, they crowd my thoughts and dreams and truly shape who I am now at age 59.
Two years ago I spent several weeks in my small Louisiana hometown with my 90 year old Momma and my 88 year old Dad. During my visit I went through several cardboard boxes filled with black and white photographs. One 4X4 picture of Momma and me really depicted the separate yet together idea. In the photo I am about 4 years old and staring straight into the camera. I’m wearing a sleeveless summer dress with smocking. I have a full, fat almost babyish face and shoulder-length wispy hair. I am not smiling and I look so, so relaxed and pensive. I’m leaning back into Momma’s arm draped around me. Momma gazes off upwards to the left. She wears a sleeveless, small checkered blouse and her short brown hair is combed back from her face. She too is unsmiling and has a faraway,  content look. Her arms loosely encircle me. We seem comfortably close and at ease with each even though each of us is occupied with her own separate thoughts.
Even though today I am far from that fat-faced girl, and Momma has passed away, not a day gets by me without memories of momma grabbing my attention and reminding me of her constant, unconditional love and how it shaped me into a mother of three grown sons who rule my world and hold most of my love.
Family. They may build us up one day and destroy us the next, yet they are with us so often, even if not physically so. They may control our thoughts and drive our actions and surround our hearts in both hurtful and helpful ways. I was so very fortunate to have a small blue-eyed Cajun momma from Ville Platte who had a heart bigger than all of Louisiana, especially when it came to her children. Every day I leisurely lean into Momma’s arms, and I face my current day’s activities with a form of independence that is supported by her love.