Donna Smaldone
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Monday / April 09 / 2012

Growing up Racette: splashy-splashy

(Street sign in Lake Placid, New York)
(Street sign in Lake Placid, New York)

Growing up Racette was, well… magical on many levels. There were boundaries and consequences, yes, but all sprinkled with a dash of, “I dare you!”

As part of my blogging experience, I will occasionally share “Growing up Racette” moments with the hopes of sowing dream seeds into your soul.

Many of you have known me since the day I entered this world. I was unflinching. Happy. Loud. I truly believed I could reach the moon if I enlisted the help of my friends and together, we stretched and pulled with everything we had. I wanted to experience… everything. There was no danger, only adventure. There was no sorrow, only wonder.

I’m still that way.

My parents instilled it in me. They edified, believed, backed, and encouraged. I have them to thank for being unabashedly me.

Daddy, typically the one dreaming-up the magic and Momma, thoughtfully bringing balance so even the wildest of notions could be brought to fruition. They poured themselves into parenthood, snipping, clipping, and weaving the various yarns used to craft the unique fabrics that became me, my big brother Mark, and my baby sister Debbie.

How splendidly different each of our life quilts look.

My father the early riser, my mother the night-owl, I cannot recall it ever being cold in the Racette house. Even when outside temps were below zero, our home was filled with the welcoming warmth of a new day — which until about age four, I swore my Daddy created by pushing the sun up and magically filling the house with the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Even though I wouldn’t become a coffee-drinker til my late 30s, I have always relished the aroma.

Without fail, Daddy made mornings come to life with his contagious smile and soul-embracing hug. These were our special Daddy-Daughter moments before anyone else in the house awoke. And on vacation, it was even better. Especially in Virginia Beach.

There was no warm-up time for me in the morning. If I was up, I was on. As soon as my eyes opened and I realized Daddy was awake, I’d scurry to the small balcony of the Thunderbird Motel and crawl into his lap. I gave no care to whether or not I wrinkled his newspaper or knocked into the coffee he was sipping. It wouldn’t be until I became an adult I would realize the preciousness of those moments — that he cared more about cuddling his baby girl than the news of the day or his caffeine fix.

Daddy knew it wasn’t vacation for me unless I could eat my cereal right out of the individually packaged cardboard box. He’d pour milk over my day’s selection of Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Krispies (or Corn Flakes if it was toward the end of vacation and selection had dwindled) and we’d watch the sun’s metamorphosis from deep reds and oranges to yellows so bright you could no longer look directly at it.

To this day, I prefer to eat cereal with a plastic spoon.

Tip toeing through the hotel room like Warner Brothers’ cartoon characters, we’d get dressed in whatever we’d flung on the floor the night prior — deliberately choosing bathing suits as our underwear — and hop on our bikes to go watch the fishing boats take flight.

It was tradition.

Peddling back to the hotel was something I took very seriously. One, I wanted to make an impression by keeping up with my six-foot-five father as he made his bike move so easily and two, I knew I could talk him into playing in the ocean waves.

“What do you want to do next?,” he’d inquire as if he didn’t know.

“Splashy-splashy!!,” I’d shriek.

Ditching our bikes at the hotel, we’d skip down to the quiet beach. First in the waves, I’d giggle as Daddy pretended the water was too cold for him (hmmm… perhaps it really was.) He’d bend over in the knee-deep saltiness and brush water along his arms declaring, “I’m just getting used to it.”

“Splashy-splashy!!,” I’d squeal until he succumbed to my teasing and splashed water on his belly. Then, without any additional warning, in he would dive and there we would play until we saw Momma and Mark emerge, sleepy-eyed, onto the balcony above.

I’m not sure when exactly “splashy-splashy” came to be or how many times we played it. But I do know it’s implanted in my heart as a cherished forever memory.

 

10 responses to “Growing up Racette: splashy-splashy”

  1. Elaine Racette says:

    What wonderful memories!!

  2. Dad says:

    Hi Donna,

    I’ve tried a couple of times to get this message to you. I am not sure why mom’s name
    comes up when this e mail was to me.
    But let me assure you this is the most endearing e mail I have ever received.
    You of course are soooooooo loved. God has blessed you tremendously.
    You do so much for so many.
    I love you more than any words can express.
    By the way… what do you mean when you were 4 you believed I pulled the sun up.
    I did and still do!!! In fact right now it is 5 AM and I am about to take the dogs for their
    morning walk…but first need to go out and pull the sun up.

    Love,

    Dad

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Hi, Daddy! So sorry you had troubles posting your comment. But I’m glad you persevered because you’ve — once again — warmed my heart with your words. I, too, love you more than words can express… and am delighted you still pull the sun up every morning. I love you!!

      Love, your little girl,
      Donna

  3. Carrie says:

    Thanks for sharing, Donna, I loved reading your dad’s comment too. Makes me recall good times and memories with my dad and makes me cry…. in a good way.
    Love Carrie

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Your Dad comes to life in your eyes every time you speak of him, Carrie. What an amazing, wholehearted man he was. I’m glad to call his daughter, Friend.

      Love,
      Donna

  4. David Philips says:

    Donna –

    Thanks so much for sharing your memories of childhood. It brings back so many for me –
    – When I think of your Dad, I think of chasing the trains first. I actually shared that with me fourth graders this year complete with the picture of the 5 of us watching the passing train and little David twenty yards away!
    – Watching “The Wizard of Oz” on your Dad’s incredible TV that was inside the cabinet! All five of us giving your Dad a back rub while he laid on the ground.
    – Watching movies in the basement in actual auditorium seats!

    I am so thankful that the Racette family was such a huge part of my early life. Thank you Donna! Thank you Mark! Thank you Debbie! And of course, thank you Mr. & Mrs. Racette !!!

    Donna – you have such a gift of writing and of sharing!

    Love, David

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Dear David, you are such a beautiful soul and loving friend. How blessed I am to have had you in my life since the day I was born (….er, well, 8 days after I was born LOL). Thank you for sharing in these memories with me; and thank you for building new memories for the children in your life (yours-n-Robbi’s + your 4th-graders). I love you!

      Love,
      Donna

  5. Julie says:

    Dearest Donna,

    I agree with David… your family was SUCH an integral part of our childhood! SO many wonderful memories. I also remember how my mother would bring him the leftover frosting from the birthday cakes she had decorated… and how your dad would give us all “jobs” to do… and we were so excited to help him… it was only later in life that we figured out that we were actually all cleaning your house. Ha ha! Donna… I think you had that figured out WAY before we did!! And as David said “BACKIE RUBS!!!” Love you all so very much!!! <3
    Julie

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      My dear friend, Julie. Oh, how you warm your heart. I can HEAR the giddiness in your voice as I read your words (luvit). How grateful I am for the MANY cherished memories we share. I am most especially thankful to call you, my Forever Friend. I love you and cherish you!

      Love,
      Donna

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