Sarah Lysne: The joy of being a princess

I had somewhat of a charmed childhood. At a very young age, I learned that the name, Sarah means princess, and I took full advantage of that information. At age 3, when I fully understood what a princess was, I took on the role of playing the part. It was an easy role to play, given the circumstances. For the first three years of my life I was an only child. My mom left her career as a teacher to stay home with me. We spent hours reading at the Public Library, and reading books together at home. One of those books was called,”Not enough beds for the babies,” by Mary Ann Hoberman. The story was about a little girl who had to find a shoe box for each one of her dolls and make sure they all had a bed before she herself went to sleep. I decided that this would be my goal, and I had a lot of dolls. This obsession extended my bedtime by at least a half an hour every night for a month!

When I was 4 years old, my mom taught me how to read. She would make little cards with sight words on them, and then she would write out sentences that I could read. I was proud that I could read before I went to kindergarten.

My dad and I used to walk a few blocks from our house to a little grocery store owned by Mr. Kripicka. Every Saturday we would sit at the counter and have a malt together.

My mom would order me beautiful dresses from Sears and JCPenney catalogs. I remember the excitement of opening the packages that arrived in the mail. My grandma Keenan also supplied me with lots of dresses that she bought at rummage sales. Every morning I would wake my mom up at an early hour, and have her help me put on the dress I wanted to wear that day. This morning routine started when I was 2 years old

When I was about three years old, I was still using a pacifier. My parents were trying to get me to quit this habit, and so they promised me that they would buy me a new tricycle, if I gave up my pacifier. Well, I thought about that for a while, and on a Sunday night, I looked at both of them and said, “This is how you do it.” I took the pacifier out of my mouth and threw it in the garbage can. At that point, I’m sure I was expecting them to say, let’s go to the store and get your bike, but it was Sunday night. Nothing was open on Sunday night in 1969, except for the gas station, but a promise was a promise. My parents knew if they said I would have to wait, they would have to get ready for a full blown temper tantrum. So, they took me to the gas station, and we found two bikes that they thought might work. I chose a red tricycle, but it was a little bit big for me. When we got home, my dad had to put blocks on the pedals so I could reach them. I was happy, and I was proud of my new bike, and they were proud of me for giving up my pacifier.

Life was good at my grandma and grandpa and Keenan house too. A princess should not only have a pony, but also a horse, and I did. My grandpa Keenan had a little Shetland pony named Trixie. I got to ride Trixie when I was a little bit older. Grandpa’s pride and joy was a beautiful Quarter horse named Red. Red was very tall, and so Grandpa would let me sit on Red’s beautiful saddle. He would let me hold the reins while he gently led Red around the yard by holding the bridle. I loved the horses as much as grandpa did.

It was fun to go in the barn brush and feed the horses. I liked being outside in the country, on grandma and grandpa’s acreage. They had two strawberry patches, a vegetable garden, an apple tree and plenty of space to run and explore.

Grandma always made my favorite treats, like sugar cookies shaped like flowers, custard, and strawberry shortcake. When I would have her homemade strawberry shortcake, I requested that the strawberries be in one bowl, the shortcake in another, and the whipped cream in a third bowl. This request did not seem to bother grandma at all, and that’s the way she always fixed it for me.

Apparently I never like to leave my grandparent’s house because as you can see, I was extra spoiled there. For 3 years I was their only grandchild. When my parents would announce that it was time to go home, I would have a huge temper tantrum about putting my coat on. My grandma would put together a little bag of cookies for me to take home if I would put my coat on. This usually worked, but I was often still mad. On one particular cold night, we were leaving their house, I had a tantrum, but finally got my coat on. My mom started driving the car home, and all of a sudden, I ripped my coat off and threw it up onto the dash right past her head. She looked at me in the rear view mirror. I stood in the middle of the back seat, this was before car seats, with my little arms folded and a scowl on my face.

I guess you can say, I was a little bit stubborn. My parents decided to go to a parenting book study with their friends, to learn how to deal with my stubbornness. Fortunately, I outgrew my temper tantrums, and my two younger siblings were mellow children in comparison.

Soon before my husband and I got married, my father- in- law asked my parents, “Which of your three children was the most difficult to raise?” My parents responded in unison, “Sarah.” I wondered if my father- in- law had trouble sleeping that night. He probably wondered what his son was getting into.

Despite the stress I caused my parents, my stubbornness has served me well. It’s the one thing that helped me get through college.

Today my stubbornness helps me deal with the challenges of having ALS. I guess you could say that my stubbornness is helping me fight my ALS with every ounce of strength that I have.

I still feel like a princess because my life is filled with the richness of the love of so many family and friends, and that is a treasure.