I find it interesting to have epiphanies about things that have changed my line of thinking over the years. It has always bothered me to witness someone talking down to another person just trying to make a living. As a child, I often wondered why people did that. When we studied American slavery in elementary school, I remember thinking why did human beings treat other human beings in such awful ways? I never talked to my parents or family about those things. I observed and studied more than I asked questions when it came to people. Of course, I was curious about all kinds of things. I asked questions about things and how things worked. It was just people that I found I learned more by watching.
I don’t remember where or when, but at some point between the ages of seven and ten, I read a story where a father told his child to always remember the name of the janitor. To not only do that at school, but in life. Janitors are everywhere and they are an important part of living. Schools, apartment buildings, business offices, everywhere you go, there is always the person pushing around the cart or changing the trash. Their feelings and lives are just as important to the greater scheme of things as the CEO or Receptionist. After I read that story, I did just that.
My most memorable and favorite janitor has to be Ms. Georgia. She was the one at my first high school. She never seemed very friendly, but after I had asked her name and began saying hi to her when I seen her, she turned out to be a very sweet lady who loved her job and knew a lot of things. This stuck with me and I try to remind my kids to do the same.
Cal and I take this same token when it comes to cashiers. I mean, if someone is wearing a name tag, speak to them and use their name. You would be surprised the difference it makes. Today, for example, the Walmart cashier looked like she was a cardholder of the Slap a Bitch Quick club. Her name was Michelle. Now think about this. You will be standing in front of this cashier from 2-8 minutes depending on how much you are purchasing. I always greet the cashiers by name as soon as they start scanning my stuff. As soon as I stepped up and said “Good morning Michelle!” Her whole demeanor changed and she carried on small talk with me. I could never be a cashier by trade. However, some of these people like it and make a career of it. Don’t look down your nose at them or treat them bad. Their job is important. Further, there is absolutely no need to use these people as an example for your kids. It is downright cruel. Without these people, you would not have the convenience of shopping like you do.
Further, there is a way to tell your children that you don’t want them to grow up to be a stocker in a grocery store. Standing in front of the guy helping you find something in the pasta aisle at the grocery store and loudly telling your six year old “this is what happens when you don’t go to college” is not at all appropriate, respectful, or getting your point across. Do you know what you teach your kid in that moment? A lot more than “Go to college and make lots of money!” You are teaching them hate. You are teaching them disregard for humanity. You are teaching them that people are not important and, most of all, you are teaching them how to be an asshole…just like you. Nice. Plus one for the dumbass parenting skills there.
My point is, if the job was not necessary, it would not exist. The jobs are important. They enable you to live your life easier and they enable the cashiers, janitors, stickers, wait staff, and call center representatives to work. It gives those people a sense of stability, experience, and most often, livelihood for their families. Just because they are not from the gated community of millionaires like you does not discount their value or importance. If at all, if you have to look down upon them, they are richer than you will ever be.
I am not perfect. I still will be a nasty customer if I have to call customer service. However, I have worked in call centers and know these jobs are important. I will remember the name of the janitors and try to remember to call the cashiers by name. Besides, we see them more than just once. I will sometimes even choose a longer line because I see that miss Elsie is working today. It’s just respect and the fact that I do know their job is important. Not just in the scheme of things but to them too.
What do YOU think?
I have never been one to choose a plain dog. Being raised in a dog family, it is my experience that, when you choose a dog, especially a puppy, something about them stands out or is very special to you. I never gave a second thought to the plain dogs of the world. Over the past year, our Mollie (the Shadow Stalker) littered a total of eight puppies. All but one were chosen for their forever homes. This one we had decided to keep. Honestly, it was the next to last one to go that we had initially wanted to keep but how can you say no to the twelve year old girl who fell in love with a particular puppy at first sight? So we were left with Courage. Caption: Courage at seven weeks waiting for the masses to finish eating.
As a tiny pup, Courage wasn’t interested in much. He’s like his mother in that he would rather sit and watch the action instead of participate. Full of manners, he evens let the others get their fill at dinner time and then eat in peace. Just a totally different dog experience for me altogether.
Since the New Year, it has begun to show that there really is something special about this dog. For starters, he is nearly double the weight of his mother and just turned a year old last week! He loves it when I sit down to read, because he knows he is going to get a snuggle and an extended ear rub. Typical dog stuff, I know. Now he usually waits for one of the others to tell me that it is potty time. As you know, I work from home and Courage (and the rest of the pack) are my “Snoopervisors.”)
This particular Snoopervisor has started to show me that he can grab my attention exceptionally well. Sometimes, I will tell the dogs to give me a minute because I want to finish whatever task I am working on before letting them out. This particular day, Mr. Courage was not having it.
Courage has a body more reminiscent of a large weenie dog. Raised up on his hind legs, and still with his butt in the floor, he is tall enough to put his paws on my keyboard tray. Currently, said tray is in a bent track and if you push on it too hard it will jump the track making for a bad day. (Ok, small digression here, it’s bent because I am graceful. That is all.) So, I tell the “team” to give me a minute as I continued to do my work. I must have take a minute or three too long. Courage appears and puts both paws on my leg, Ensures that he has my attention, then proceeds to slowly move his left paw to the keyboard tray. Holding my gaze, this stinker proceeds to push mown on the tray and it pops in warning that anymore pressure and it will fall!
Appalled, I move his paw off the tray. I pop the tray back into place, tell him “Gimme a minute lovey boy!” Then turn back to my task. Without so much as a blink, he literally sighs loud enough for me to turn back to him (mind you, he still has his right paw on my leg.) When I do, again, as if it were a staring contest, he takes his left paw and proceeds to pull down on the keyboard tray. Yes, it popped again.
As I begin to become frustrated with the newly found smart tail gene Courage has tapped into, I remove both paws and put him back down on the floor. I told him that I was almost done. Apparently I did not get the message. Undeterred, Courage moves from the side of my chair to in front of me. All of a sudden, this dog face comes from under my desk and is now between me and the keyboard tray, facing the same direction as I am. Just as quickly, these two stubby legs wit paws come from the same place and proceed to forcefully push the keyboard tray to its resting place under the desk. Caption: That paw!
Courage then looks up at me with this look that says “I know you love me HumanMom!” Of course, it was all over at that point. Potty time it was. No gimme a minute, no wait a second. Right now. Happily, Courage led the pack out of the office to the potty door.
In the days since, other things have happened which show intelligence taken fur granted. I will eventually share some of these.
On a final note, plain dogs are more special than any dog with a special mark or blue eyes. Their special is inside. So far, the biggest dog we have not only towers in size but his heart has so much love and his brain continues to amaze us! I am also of the opinion that plain dogs are not chosen, they are bestowed upon special people!
What do YOU think?
Just before I turned 21, mom and dad purchased a distinguished house that was built at the turn of the 20th century. Later, it became known as “The Rock House” but not for the reasons you may think. You see, this epic behemoth of a beauty was made of just that. Stone. It gave it a unique look that was only shared by a reflection. It was a two story behemoth with a full basement that had 3 rooms. It was completely authentic and true to the era it was built right down to the push button light switches and the 12×18 vents in the wall for an early version (late renovation) of central heating. I loved and am still in love with this house. Should I ever find myself in a position to purchase it, it would be without hesitation. Mom and dad only owned the house for about 5 years. There were many great memories to be had there. Many that will never be forgotten. Especially things which occurred at the bottom of the stairs.
I will tell many stories about this stair case. The same one that had 9 steps up to a landing and then you turned back to go up 9 more stairs. It was open and you could see the ceiling of the 2nd floor from the bottom of the first flight. This is where Daddy comes in. You see, if he found that talking to you as you left the room was an effort in vain, he would stand at the bottom of the stairs and talk to you as you walked by. This was, essentially, the center of the house. To go upstairs, you had to go by him. To go to the living room, you had to walk by him. To go to the kitchen, bathroom, basement, or any of the bedrooms…you guessed it…you had to walk by him.
Dad was one of those guys who would put his foot on a higher step on an escalator. Modern day visual of this would be the Captain Morgan stance. Now imagine he has a glass all clinky with his whiskey and Pepsi in one hand and a cigarette in another. There was a small table with an ash tray and an old rotary phone in the hallway and this would be behind him just next to the stairs. Ah, that rotary phone. It is sure a long way coming from the time when you turned the crank and yelled into the horn on the wall. When rotary phones came out, they were actually attached to the house. This one was one of them. Why do I mention the Captain Morgan stance you say? You see, there was a rounded piece that was part of the bottom step that stuck out beside the stair case. He would stand right there and prop his foot on that jutting piece. Captain Morgan retired I guess.
Whenever Daddy was particularly yakky and the house was busy with people coming to and fro, he would stand there and talk at you as you walked by. He was particularly fond of talking to people as they were going up the stairs. This gave him about 30 seconds of conversation before you were out of ear shot. I also think he knew that the acoustics were pretty awesome in that spot because the higher up you went, the louder he became. You had no choice but to reply to him because it was harmless and he would actually talk about a whole lot of nothing. Dad was good for what he called “shooting the shit.” He was also a man who liked to talk with his hands. If you were on the other side of a field and seen him talking, you would think that the man was trying to fly. Flying with a glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Always. Always. Arms flailing up in the air as he described some thing that happened in his glory days or talking about the latest man gossip at the local auction house. He would even do the same when he was trying to describe to you some thing he wanted done to one of the houses or trailers he owned.
Which reminds me, I should tell you the story of the 3 hours it took us to discuss how to lay corner round behind the refrigerator in the trailer he and mom later lived in. That was hilarious. It was the most difficult project I had ever undertaken. I was supposed to be the muscle of that job and we had to have a major discussion on how it had to be done. He spend one of his days at the bottom of the stairs telling me how he is still impressed that I inherited his mechanical inclination gene. (I was right about how to cut the corner pieces. Sort version of that story. Ah, but I digress….)
I have so many stories of Daddy that I could probably fill a book. But yea, I love that man. I wish sometimes he could look down and read these stories. He would probably laugh that laugh that only a Doug can do…I love you Poopsie Doo!
What do YOU think?
Not sure if I have ever told you about Momma’s bar stool. If I have, I am gonna tell you about it again. It is an ever evolving story. I will retell it the best my memory will allow. Here goes.
When I was in early elementary school, my mother worked for a Seattle based thrift store. (At least so I think it is Seattle based. I have never seen any outside of Seattle and there were three or four in the city to my knowledge. I was only 6 or 7. What did I know? Ah, but I digress…) It was called St. Vincent De Paul. As the General Manager, she was afforded the opportunity to bring things home from time to time. My childhood was filled with many oddities that came from those stores. Donations straight from America’s attics, back rooms, sheds, and basements. Riddled with yard sale oddities, these stores were the day care centers of my 1st-3rd grade years. You see, Momma would pick me up from school and bring me to work. I would have the run of the place until the store closed and then it was off to the Bingo Hall for the remainder of the evening. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.
On one of the days I was lucky enough to be able to come home with Daddy; Momma brought home 2 things. The red “bench” chair and an oak bar stool. The red bench chair is still in her kitchen. There is only one place you can actually find one of those chairs and I hope to own one of my own one day, if not THAT one. Seems like a pretty good product if it is still around after nearly 40 years. So is that bar stool. That bar stool has moved all over the country with us. We slowly migrated east with this bar stool (and the rest of our stuff, obviously.) Currently, we are in South Carolina and this bar stool will migrate with me and my family into the far north soon. Boy, the stories it could tell. Yes, after nearly 40 years, it still exists. Albeit not in its original form, but its still hanging on nonetheless. These days it is not much more than an alternately shaped TV tray but still a fixture in the main areas of the house.
Bar stool was made in an era when real furniture was made. Its not made of match stick wood or press board. None of that shit lasts as long as good solid oak. I mean, think about it. How much of the furniture manufactured in the last 20 years is going to be here half a century later. Unless some little old lady owns it, it will likely be destroyed somehow. Even water rings from a sweaty glass can kill a piece of furniture these days. Not old Bar Stool. It’s real. It’s there. It’s here to stay. It shrugs off sweat rings like water off a duck’s back.
About 3 or 4 years ago, I was painting one of the boyz rooms. I needed to paint at the top of the wall, in the corner, behind the door. Of the two boys, the youngest was asleep and the other one was roaming around the house doing things only a 9-10 year old can do. I had the door shut. I was painting the corner above the door and didn’t want to drip sky blue paint on the door. Foolishly, I was standing on the seat of the bar stool. Instead of doing the right thing and going to get the kitchen step bench, I had chosen Bar Stool as my lift to reach the higher parts of the wall. There is still no reason why I choose that as my muse. I just did. It is good to keep in mind that I had successfully painted a quarter of the room before I found myself in this corner. I had meandered on and off the stool from this same standing position for at least the last hour. No problem right? I was about to find out my mistake.
There is another thing you should know about this situation. This happened at the point of my life where I was just over 200 pounds. It was my “fat phase” also known as the era of the Flavor Hog. So, yes, even if I were just 80 pounds soak and wet, at 200 plus, I had no business standing on the top of a bar stool, in a corner, on carpet. Being my first time up on the stool in the corner and confident that I was doing well, I had inadvertently placed the stool a tad too close to the wall. I had painted most of the corner and needed one more round of paint in my cup to finish off what needed to be done. Just as I had done many times before. I had squatted down, in preparation to get my foot on the first slat, and then it happened.
You have been told before that, when I was overweight, I was quite uncomfortable in my own skin. This made me a little more clumsy. A little more miserable. A lot more misunderstood about the limits of where my boundaries were. Upon squatting down on the stool, I had bumped the wall behind me with my big fat fanny. The next few seconds happened for me in slow motion but I can still remember them happening like it was just yesterday. I bumped the wall, and the stool began to fall over. Trying not to fall on my face, I tried to stand up and gain my footing on something, anything so that I would not get hurt. We all know I am as graceful as they come. In hindsight, I am not sure if that was the best idea, but it seemed to be the only one at the time. Instead of ending up vertical, I over corrected and fell backwards…right on top of the legs of the Bar Stool. I heard the legs splinter underneath me and laid there on the floor. In full shock of what just happened and wondering if any of that splintering had been something inside my body, my 9 year old son comes banging on the door. Frantically I hear “Mom? MOM! Are you OK? What haaappppeeennnneddd?” Unable to move and not sure, I hollered back and told him to go get his Daddy. You see, I was on the floor blocking the door and he was unable to get in.
I imagine he took off like a flash. Daddy was at the pond behind the house fishing. A few minutes later, Cal pushed his way into the room and stood over me shaking his head. “Are you OK?” he said. My reply was that everything was fine. By this time I had gained my bearings and figuring out exactly what I had done. I explained myself to Cal and know what he said to me? “Only you.”
Remember at the beginning of the story I had told you that Bar Stool was still around? Yes, the story does not end here. I told Cal I wanted to see if he could turn Bar Stool into Step Stool or something and that is exactly what he did. Essentially, he sawed off the splintered legs to about a foot long, screwed them into the seat of the stool and here I sit on it, in the living room, writing to you. Bar Stool is our cat of sorts. A thing with nine lives.
What do YOU think?
In his twilight years, Daddy became an avid reader. Maybe he always was. He just did it a whole lot more when he was older. He always liked to read. Ever since I could remember, Daddy had a book within arm’s reach. He loved his car races, football games, Star Trek, and horror movies just like any other man. He worked on cars and was a hard working man who took care of his wife’s bingo and shopping habits. But one thing he always did, no matter what, was read. When I was a little girl, he always told me that if you loved to read, you were never at a loss for something to do nor would you be poor. Reading provided knowledge and it took you places that you could never afford or even dream of. Daddy was always fond of a good western and later, he liked the horror/mystery books. I can still remember vividly the first time he took me with him to the library. I knew how to read by this point in my life and outside of the libraries at school, I did not know of public libraries where you could check out as many books as your heart desired. That first time, I came home with a stack of books almost as tall as I was. I curled up in the corner and spent the afternoon reading about dragons, the Little Rascals, Mr Frog and Rabbit, and many other stories. I distinctly remember him telling my mother that I had not moved from my spot for hours and spent the afternoon reading.
Thus, the love for reading was passed from father to daughter. In one afternoon, he shared a passion with me that resonated and woke something inside of me that never really sleeps. The love of reading. After he retired and started to become too old and stiff to work on the cars or ride around to auction houses, he started visiting the local libraries. At the time, our county had four branches that were relatively close to where we lived. He always announced to the house when he was going to the library. The older he got, these announcements started to be the only time his voice would sparkle with happiness. Like he was about to embark on a grand adventure and he would be back. It was never a short trip and he would always come home with a grocery bag full of books.
After some time, he discovered the honor books. He became quite fond of them. In this county, the honor book section was quite impressive and it allowed for him to take as many as he wanted and return them whenever he felt like. He would also add into the mix a random paper back that he would find here or there. I remember having a conversation with him once about the honor books. He told me that once he had discovered he had read everything in the honor book section, he would move on to another branch and start reading their honor books. He could accomplish reading an entire honor book section in about a month or two. I like to think this as Daddy travelling his “Honor Book Circuit.” Sometimes, I would ask him. “Yo, Dad, what library in the circuit are you going to today?” He would giggle that Doug giggle and tell me which one then invite me to go. I was always too busy. However, I now wish I would have went every time he asked.
He seemed at peace when he was reading. Even if he was eating a sandwich with his book propped up on the napkin holder, he was at peace and spend many hours sitting at the kitchen table with a stack of 2 or 3 on the table, waiting to be read.
When he went tot he hospital for the last time in 2009, one of the things he asked my mother to bring him was his bag of books that were next to his chair in the kitchen. When I retrieved his things after he had passed, one of the things that was on the table next to his bead was one of those honor books and his reading glasses. I still have the reading glasses and I still have the book. He was never able to finish the story. I kept the book, hoping one day to finish it. It is outside of my normal genre and I never got any further than he did. I did take the rest of the bag of books to the library. The lady at the counter looked at me evilly as I plopped the bag on the counter. “I don’t know where these go. They were my fathers and he got them from the honor section. I am returning them to you as he would have.” Yea, I broke down in tears. I walked away and had never been back to that library since. However, one day I plan on finishing ihe one book I kept. Besides, I have to have something to tell him when we meet in heaven right?
I miss you Daddy…I am still reading.
What do YOU think?
Back in my lat teens and early 20’s I was a breakfast manager at a local fast food restaurant named Hardee’s. The hours were perfect: 3am-1pm. For me, it was an easy job and presented challenges as well. One such challenge was some of the people that worked the same shift I did. One was the hostess, she is a topic for another story. The other was this big ole German lady named Ingold.
Ingold was not by any means your normal person. To begin with, she had to warm up to you. It was not easy to gain her confidence in your abilities as either a manager or a co-worker. Also, she hated everyone. However, she was good at her job. Ingold only worked breakfast. When it was time to transition, she was out the door. She was a good worker but you had to get her on your side to work for you. You see, Ingold liked to be prompt and start things on time. While the manager was technically not supposed to start or arrive to open the doors until at least 3:45 am, if you showed up at any point after 3:00 am, you were certain to have a bad day. Showing up late made Ingold grouchy and boy…you never wanted that woman to be grouchy. (Grumpy doesn’t even come close to what this woman could be if she was…grouchy. Even Oscar the Grouch was mild compared to when this woman was on a roll. Ah, but I digress.) I liked to show up early just for her because I knew if she started her day off right, I would not have to worry about the kitchen because Miss Ingold handled things. Besides, at 4:01 am, the time the schedule says we are supposed to clock in, she would get in her car and go home. THAT, my friends, is a bad day. Without her, it was difficult at best.
Other workers knew that too. Because I worked hard to get Miss Ingold on my side, she eventually warmed up to me. I think there were a few mornings that I totally earned her respect. “Why? How?” You ask? Like this:
Ingold worked six days a week. The days I was blessed to have her on my shift, I knew I was going to have a good day. She kept that kitchen running and things were hardly ever late. I would giggle at her when there was a special request from a customer during the busy part of the morning because she would yell through the window at me “What the hell do they think this is Burger King? This is not have it your way!” Begrudgingly, she would make the special request anyway. If she was particularly chipper, she would offer to make your breakfast for you on your break and hook a sister up!
Anywhoo, back to the how and why. There were a few times I had overslept. Upon waking, the only thing I would think would be:
“Shit! Ingold is gonna be pissed!”
I would jump straight up, throw on my pants, button 4 of the 7 buttons on my shirt, grab my shoes, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, and other “get ready” stuff and run to the car just so I could make it on time. One particular morning I got lots of laughter from her (which was rare) because I showed up at 3:05 am and had all my stuff randomly in my arms and was dropping and picking up things all the way from my car to the door. I was apologetic every step of the way. One sock on, one sock off, she actually told me not to worry that she was in a good mood because of me. This thoroughly confused me because in Ingold time, I was late. I think the that she seen that I was stressing out over her being grouchy more than I was at my appearance at Good God It’s Early in the morning. To be honest, I think that was the first time I did that. After that day, I think I had Miss Ingold on my side and we got along famously. Even when she was grouchy.
She was old then and this was in the mid 1990’s. I moved on and life went on but I thought of her often. I really liked that old Broad. I wonder what has become of her?
What do YOU think?
Yes. That is what I thought. The world is upside down. I lay there on the counter listening to my mother bark orders to the landlady because her nurse training kicked in. The landladys’ name is Mercedes. Upon realizing that she was talking like that to the woman who could certainly kick us out of this place, I thought about the HUGE Mercedes emblem she had hanging on her living room wall. It was given to her by some man who owned a Mercedes dealership. Go figure. (Ah, but even at a young age, I digressed. Nice. I am bleeding out of my head, face, skull, SOMETHING! Get with the program!) I hear my mother ask for a needle and thread. (WHAT? I am not a cross stitch!) She then ripped out a piece of first aid tape and just looked at me and said;
“It’s too bad, I can’t do this!”
She grabbed my by my shoulders and yanked me up and placed me, unsteadily, on my feet then ushered me out the apartment to the car. “MOM! Can’t do what? Where are we going? What is going on?” Her reply? “Here.” She slapped the now RED, white and blue towel on my head. “Keep this here and be still.” Then she ran back into the house to call my sister who rushed over and rode with us to the hospital. I remember one of them driving but cannot recall who. They were arguing about the route to the hospital and I remember going over a bridge and hearing that it was the best way because traffic was backed up elsewhere. From the time I was yanked off the kitchen counter until I ended up being on the ER table, I only remember bits and pieces. Sorry its so fragmented but it is human nature and some things become faded when you are in a crisis.
Upon arriving at the hospital, there were people EVERYWHERE! People who had their elbows wrapped up, others with head injuries, mothers with sick children, the random old guy. There was a little bit of everything in the ER that day. I don’t know how much time passed from when we left our apartment until my mother finished filling out the registration but she began to pace. (My mother’s name is Pat.) A pacing Pat is not a good thing and something was going to happen if her pacing speeds up. I watched. I waited. It was only a matter of time. Then it happened.
That 5’4″ woman put her left hand on her hip and pointed her right index finger straight into the air. Here it comes…
Just a little caveat here. Some hindsight nonsense. This all happened on a Saturday afternoon. Pat was a SERIOUS bingo player. Bingo starts at 6 on Saturdays and we have to be there when the doors open to play pull tabs and get our favorite seats. mmmmkay?
“OH MY GAWD! WILL SOMEONE PULEEASE HELP MY DAUGHTER! WE HAVE BEEN HERE OVER THIRTY MINUTES AND SHE IS BLEEEEDING TO DEATH!” she screams as she runs from one hospital employee to another. This ranting goes on for about three or four minutes. My sister wants to climb under her seat. From my vantage point, all I see is a sit com happening in the color red. The blood had soaked the towel and it was running down my forehead into my eyes. Eventually, some doctor man appears out of seemingly nowhere and grabs my mother by the shoulders. “Maam! Maam! Maam. We have a room for her and we are going to get her taken care of. Just please calm down, you are scaring the other patients.” As if turning off a light switch, she relaxed her arms and simply pointed at me. Behind the doctor was a nurse with a wheelchair and they helped me into it and whisked me a way to labor and delivery.
Wait. What? I am not having a baby? Simultaneous to my brain processing where we were going, my mother said just that. I was then whisked on to a table that looked like a torture device. (Yes, nine years old is far from any knowledge of OB/GYN doctors or what they do.) The same doctor wheeled in a table with various shiny things on it and he pulled up a wheely chair to the top of the torture table and BEGAN TO PULL MY HAIR OUT BY THE ROOTS! Ok, maybe he numbed it up a little with something but dammit, that HURT!
YANK! “Can you feel that?” YEASSSS!!!
“OK” YANK! “Can you feel that?” OW! I SAID YEA!
“OK” YANK! “Can you feel that?” HELLOOOOO!!!!!!
Then I started to feel like I was going to pass out. “Nonononononononononono! Don’t do that little lady, you MUST stay awake for me? Talk to me! Tell me about your favorite thing in school! You cannot go to sleep! We have to stitch up your skull then your skin and I need you to stay awake while I do that. Can you be a trooper and do that for me?” Mr. Doctor man said. “Yea” my voice said, quietly, from a million miles away.
I did as he asked. They stitched my skull. 4 to be exact. Self dissolving. Same for my “skin.” With my mother calm, and myself all stitched up, I was allowed to sit up for the first time in a while. MAN was I dizzy. But I survived. Sadly, I was unable to participate in gymnastics for a few weeks. That waned my interest slightly.
I survived but I must say it left an impression. I learned a hard lesson. I even see a child STANDING UP on a bed and I flip out. That is ONE lesson my kids will not learn. Pretty sad if you think about it. Not everyone gets to have their skull stitched up in the labor and delivery room at nine years old.
Reminds me of something else….NEVER run on painted pavement.
Ah, but I digress.
What do YOU think?
I was into gymnastics when I was in elementary school. I was on the school gymnastics team and it was a big part of the school culture in Denver. While we didn’t compete, it was more of an after school activity. We did have “shows” for the parents to see what we were learning. It was fun. I was often jealous of the girls who were better at tumbling than I and practiced any chance I could. I practiced A LOT. I would like to say it made me a better gymnast. However, when you practice what you are good at, that one skill becomes polished. What I should have been practicing were the things I found difficult. Eh, I was in the fourth grade. You live and learn. Obviously, I did not grow up to become an Olympic star. I DID learn a valuable lesson in the fourth grade. While it may have been the only thing I retained from that year, it was something that affected me the rest of my life. It ties closely in with the whole “do not run on painted pavement” story but that, my friends, is for another day.
We lived in a tiny apartment that year. Dad worked in Wyoming on some fenced in secret facility. This meant he was home like one weekend a month. Our apartment was a one bedroom and the bedroom was smack at the end of the hallway. Upon entering the apartment, the living room/dining room/kitchen was all open and together. It was kind of like a tiny studio apartment but the hallway was directly across the room from the door. The way the floor plan was set up, the dining area and kitchen were off to the right of the front door and the living room was the main focus upon entering. The length of the hallway must have been about 20 feet. you had to pass the hall closet on the right and the bathroom on the left. It dead ended at the bedroom. Nice little set up for a quaint little apartment. It was smack in the middle of down town Denver.
My Mother had intuition about a lot of things. At that time, maybe she had foresight. I give her credit for those things. After all, I was the youngest of her 8 kids and she HAD to know something by the time I came along. I shared a room with her and Dad. If you left the bedroom door open, there was a window that you could see from the front door. Straight shot, no furniture in the way. No obstructions. Free, open space from front door to the bedroom. Mom had placed their bed directly underneath that window. Because this apartment was a temporary living space for us, a lot of our stuff was in storage. Including the headboard to that bed.With the headboard to their queen bed missing, the windowsill was approximately 1-2 feet above the surface of the mattress. It also had tile across the bottom of the sill. I assume for aesthetic purposes of the apartment. The tile was curved at the front and stuck out a quarter of an inch.
We all know Mom’s thing for bingo. On top of her little good luck trinkets and her bingo bag, she had cushions. Often, she would bring her bingo cushions in the house instead of leaving them in the car. Gosh forbid someone stole the bingo cushion! She had this thick brown cushion that was nothing more than a six inch square piece of foam in a dirt brown cover with a loop for a handle. It was literally square and 2’x2′. Ugliest thing you had ever seen. Apparently it was coveted and made my Mothers butt happy during those long bingo sessions. It meant something if it had to come into the house every time she came home. This cushion along with a nice fluffy pillow would lead me to discover the state of Tennessee in our apartment. Yes, I said that right. All Christopher Columbus and stuff. Although, it was not 1492. It was 1985 and it was summer and it was nowhere near the Ocean blue. We were in the Rockies. All middle of the country and stuff. (Ah, but I digress. Little history there. Sort of.)
Up to this point, jumping on the bed was one of the best rainy day activities. It was fun. All kids do it. Some get hurt and that is OK. We all survived! I had this brilliant idea to take a bed pillow (they were kinda firm) and fold it in half and lay the brown cushion on top of it. I would set it up at the end of the bed and use it as a springboard! YES! Then I could show off in front of my friend! Oh what a wonderfully epic idea!. It was a perfect set up. I would run down the hall, jump on it and flip into the air and land on the bed. Oh boy! The first half dozen or so tries were great. Perfect landings and everything. My friend was even impressed. Let me tell you it was just she and I in the apartment because mom was upstairs talking to the landlady. They were friends and she would often go up there and have tea or some other nonsense.
About try 7 or 8, i forget which one, it happened. I was a tad overzealous on the flip and landed on all fours. I believe I was attempting an additional flip and fell short or went too far on the final one. That part is fuzzy. Upon landing on my hands and knees, I still had the momentum of force from the flip keeping me in motion and (to me it was all slow motion until the hospital) until WHAM!!!!!
I hit my head on the windowsill. It hurt. I stood up, heart my friend ask if I was ok, then stuck my face in a pillow on the bed because FLUCK! it hurt. when I stood up and looked at her to reply, she took off running. I didn’t think anything about it and happened to look down at the pillow. A couple of days ago, mom had purchased brand-new, shiny, white pillow cases and now there was a spot on the pillow case that was not there before I put my face on the pillow. I leaned in a bit closer. The spot had to have been about and eighth of an inch long. It was red and my first thought?
“Oh my gosh! Look! It is Tennessee!” as I stood there and pointed at it. Yes, I told that to myself outloud.
Then it occurred to me. Spot not there before, red, Tennessee?? WHAT? My right hand had been holding the hurt spot on my head for nearly a minute. I pulled my hand down and looked at it. Not only was it covered in blood, it was POURING onto the floor. Immediately, I went to the hallway closet for a towel. Unbeknownst to me, I was leaving a trail of gore the whole way. On the floor, on the wall, on the inside of the closet door. Upon opening the closet door. What do I grab? A blue and white hand towel. How muthaflippin patriotic of me, yes? Yes. I stagger into the bathroom and it is all I can do to hold on to the sink and not fall over.
The next thing I know, my mother rushes in, looks at me, and instead of doing what they tell you in first aid training she says to me: “Oh good lord!” She swept me off my feet and run into the kitchen with me in her arms. She had the landlord and my friend with her. The landlord slid everything on the counter to the side and my friend laid a bath towel or sheet or something on the counter. Mom laid me on the kitchen counter and i now had my head in the kitchen sink. The world was upside down…..
(This is but part one of a two part story. It went on longer than I expected. The wonderful sequel to be my next post!)
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Sara was one of the coolest dogs ever. While I did not get to spend the time with her like I have our other dogs, she was still pretty awesome. She was basically a 55 pound dachshund with border collie markings and a bull whip for a tail. She was also the runt of her litter. Being the youngest of ten, I guess that was why I took to her.
That tail. When she was happy, she would swing that tail back and forth with reckless abandon and if you were standing down wind, I hope you have some sort of pain threshold because your legs were going to be attacked on both sides by her tail. It was just as long as she was and Sara was nearly 3 feet WITHOUT the tail. She was short and low to the ground like a typical wiener dog. Her paws were at the end of about 6 inch stumps and were nearly 2 inches wide. Despite her large appearance, she was as loving as any living creature could be. She would never harm anyone.
We had Pepper when Sara came to us. The vast majority of her life was spent with Pepper in the dog pen. He was grouchy with her at first but then began to accept her as his best buddy. They always traveled the yard together. Pepper had some injuries prior to Sara coming along and she used that to her advantage when Pepper would get the best of her. They would frolic and wrestle and when he would get the upper hand, she would simply use her weight and roll over on him. Due to his eggshell nature, it would hurt the injury to his back and he would yelp. This meant game over. Sometimes she would do the same while they were sleeping. She slept like a puppy her whole life and was most often on her back sprawled out. She would do the phat gurl roll and right on Pepper’s legs and here would come the game over yelp. It always woke everyone in the house but we all knew what it was and would go back to sleep.
Sara loved Pepper despite his grouchiness and grumpies. Pepper was a few years older than Sara and, with his injury, passed away before she did. The last couple years of her life were pretty sad. Even though we had Behr, the Pomeranian, she was still sad over the fact that her lifelong buddy was gone. I think she understood but did not know WHY he was not coming back.
The pen they shared was attached to the end of the car port. The part that opened into the car port was a big gate that was big enough to drive a car through when open. Any time I took the dogs for a walk or we had to take them for a ride, we would use that gate to let them out. The only other entry into the pen was via a chicken walk that Dad carved out of the side of the lawnmower shed. The floor inside the shed was elevated and Pepper’s injury did not allow him easy navigation of steps. When dad made the doggy door into the shed he had to put a ramp. Inside the lawnmower shed, dad fashioned a little room with a water powered heater, carpet and a radio. This would keep them out of the mud when it was too wet to be in the southern-style dog house mom made for them (Here I digress. Mom took a crate and some linoleum and 1×1 beams and fashioned a dog house with a door to the left on the front of the crate, a sloping roof, and a front “porch” for them to relax upon when the sun was too hot to lay in. While she said she was not a dog person, she did do silly things like that.) So yea, even though they were outdoor doggies, they were spoiled rotten.
When Pepper’s injury became too much for his old age, it paralyzed him. While he was not in pain, I did have the option to take him home and care for him or have him put down. Were I a stay at home mom like I was a few years later, I certainly would have kept my buddy with me but it was just too much. He never knew when he was going to use the potty and when he moved, he dragged the lower 50% of his body around and walked on his front paws. His paralyzed portion would bend in move in ways that made you hurt. He just didn’t feel it. I think that, the day we too Pepper to be put down, Sara knew. She and Pepper were sitting on the deck of the dog house. It was a warm sunny day and they were enjoying the weather like two old people. I imagine if there were rocking chairs, they would be your typical southern old couple complete with iced tea between them. I went to the house to pick up Pepper and immediately, Sara began to cover his face with doggy kisses. She had never done this before. She then followed me all the way to the car door as if telling me I had to be very careful with her buddy. I laid the old dog in the back seat and shut the door. I turned to see Sara sitting on the concrete behind me with the saddest puppy eyes I had ever seen. It was that point at which I think she knew. I sat down right there with her for about 5 minutes hugging her and telling her it was gonna be ok. When I got up, she dutifully went into the pen and turned around at the gate expecting me to close it. I did. She then sat at the corner of the pen/carport and watched me drive away with her Pepper.
A few years later, mom told me she howled soulfully for about 45 minutes after I had left. That broke my heart. After I came back, she looked at the car as if searching for him and when he was not removed from the car, she just hung her head and walked up the ramp into the shed. Sometimes she would come out and howl. It was such a sad howl that it made your spine shudder. Sara was so sad. Even when we would put Behr in the pen, it didn’t help. I guess nothing replaces your lifelong best friend. After a couple months, she began to dig. She would dig her way out under the fence. She would not leave, but would just sniff around in the part of the yard that was the direction in which we had taken Pepper. She was looking for him.
One time, I showed Sara where we had laid Pepper to rest. She watched me and Cal when we buried him but I don’t think she knew what was going on. We put him behind the lawnmower shed just outside the pen fencing. When I showed Sara what it was and told her, she just looked at me with her doggy eyes. Long gone was the spunky sparkle and it was since replaced with the look of someone who had lost something dear long ago. I took Peppers Collar and laid it in the circle of stones I had put to mark his grave site. Immediately, she walked into the circle and laid her head on his collar. Poor girl.
After that, she would sit at THAT part of the pen (it was just behind the chicken ramp) and watch the collar. I imagine she was talking to him the way people do when they visit their loved ones whom are deceased.
Sara was with us for a couple more years and then was laid to rest next to Pepper. Sara and Pepper had many adventures together and I will share those in other posts. For now, this one is too much and bringing tears to my eyes. I miss my Sara. She was my Uber Wiener dog. 🙂
What do YOU think?