My paralysis when it comes to picking a cherry from someone else’s tree is the result of an experience I had as a three-year-old. An action I took + my mom’s reaction = an impression that has lasted a lifetime.
We lived in
, where my dad pastored a church. The Mobleys were our next door neighbors. In the Mobley’s yard stood a large cherry tree that, in season, was loaded with beautiful red fruit. Once the cherries were ripe, the branches became so heavy that they hung close to the ground, just within reach of someone about thirty-three inches tall. Since there were no fences between our houses, and because the Mobleys were such nice people, I assumed that picking and eating a few cherries would be an okay thing to do. Cañon City, CO
When I arrived back in my own yard after my feast, and my mother saw the cherry juice on the front of my dress, she became quite upset. But her distress was not because of the juice on my dress. Her distress was caused by the sudden awareness that her daughter was a thief.
It took a week of “chores” to earn the three pennies Mom had decided would be sufficient payment for the cherries. In the early ‘40’s, Dad’s salary from his church consisted of one of the Sunday offerings and I’m sure even a few pennies took a bite out of the family budget. (What a deal! If people don’t like something the preacher says or does, they just withhold their offering. But I digress.)
At the end of the week, Mom escorted me to the Mobley’s house where I was required to confess that I had stolen the cherries and give Mrs. Mobley the money. My very gracious neighbor forgave me. But on that day stealing made my “Things to Never Do Again” list.
It was not until years later that I learned Mrs. Mobley returned the three pennies to my parents.