kid lessons

The scar was small, but wide in the middle. It was about an inch long, left leg, upper thigh. It was faint, yet the memories remained as if it happened yesterday. 

It was the Euclid house. I was around 8 years old. My sister, Wendy, was about 12. I remember the timeframe clearly because it was around the time she had gotten her tonsils out and had been in severe pain. She didn’t recover well. Probably because I stole her Aspergum. The gum she was supposed to chew to relieve the pain in her throat from the tonsils being ripped out. I felt bad. The Aspergum was good though. I liked the orange better than the cherry. 

Everyone was watching TV. I snuck into the bathroom. There it was on the side of the bathtub looking innocent and harmless. I thought it was cool looking. I wondered why I didn’t get to use it and my sister did. It wasn’t fair. She got to do everything. She got to have fun all the time. I didn’t care she was older and possibly, just maybe, that’s why. 

I kept looking at it, contemplating, wondering. I wasn’t sure how to use it. Which way was the right way? I couldn’t tell. I picked it up and looked at it some more. I put my foot up on the bathtub and stood there like I was Captain Morgan. I looked at it again. I held it in my right hand. I was going to do it. I was going to shave my legs. Why should Wendy have all the fun? Because blood everywhere. That’s why. 

Razor in right hand. I didn’t know how to use it. I started about mid thigh and swiped down. Oh no. Everyone knows you swipe up, idiot. I felt the pain go through my body from my toes to the top of my head. The warmth. Then the white. The pain. The blood. The hole in my leg. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t know what to do. The bleeding would not stop. 

I put the razor back on the tub. I was starting to panic. How was I going to hide what I had just done? I grabbed a t-shirt and tied it around my leg like a tourniquet. I walked back out to the living room and got in the chair. I acted like nothing had happened. I acted innocent, because I was. HA! NOT!

My leg hurt so bad. It was still bleeding and the hole was gaping open. Dad asked me what happened to my leg. I told him nothing. I think mom had been in the kitchen and then peeked in and saw the tourniquet. She asked me what happened. I told her I tried to shave. She went back in the kitchen. 

The scab was horrendous, once it started to heal. Thick and crusty. Disgusting. The constant reminder that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I probably should have quit acting like I did. 

The lesson. The life lesson. The scars of childhood mistakes and mysteries. 

 

It was “this” big

“That rat was huge,” he said. “It was THIS big without the tail,” he said as he held his outstretched hands in front of his chest. 

It was the Prospect house. It was warm out. I remember not wearing coats.  I remember it being nice outside.

There was a big brown house a few blocks away. It was being moved to about a block away from the Prospect house. It was a beautiful old house, with stained glass windows and amazing woodwork. We used to go to that house to be babysat by Gayle Garber. Someone bought the house and now it was being moved. 

That may be where the rat came from. I’m pretty sure it came up the toilet though. 

Mom picked us up from somewhere and we walked into the house. She was in front of us, walking in with her purse hanging in the crook of her elbow. I recall the purse being a kind of green blue color. I also recall she was wearing a dress. 

Next we heard a loud scream, blood curdling, in fact. When I say we, it was Sherry and me. The inseparable sisters, the one year difference sisters. The no choice, you are playing with your sister, sisters. We heard the scream and wondered what had happened. Hopefully there wasn’t an axe murderer in the house.

When we came in behind her, she was on the table in the kitchen, she then stepped over to the counter and then we heard the basement door slam shut. It was loud. The loudest door slam a person could make. The kind you make when you want to make a statement. Usually a pissed off or mad statement. That was it. That kind of slam. 

After the door was shut, I mean slammed, we asked mom what happened. She could barely speak. She told us it was a HUGE rat! How could a rat get in our house? It was disgusting to even think about it. I couldn’t stand it. I was afraid to go in any room. How? Why? Where did it come from? How long had it been roaming around our house. Had it been in our room? Yuck!!

Immediately after dad arrived home, he was filled in on what had happened and was ordered to go get a trap. Have you ever seen a rat trap? They are giant. They look almost comical. Almost fake. Almost. 

Dad set the trap in the basement. I declared I would not step foot in that basement until that rat was taken care of. I didn’t care that the washer and dryer were in the basement. I didn’t care if I had to wear dirty clothes. I would not be subjected to the horror of a giant rat stalking our basement. 

It took two nights to catch it. On the second night, in the middle of the night, Sherry heard it. She heard the trap snap. It was freaking loud. Finally, the beast had been killed. Finally, peaceful sleep. Finally no more being stalked by a rat. 

The next day, the salt guy came to deliver salt. He came in the back door and then down the basement steps to take the salt to the softener. He would carry one bag on his shoulder and another in his free hand. It didn’t take long. We heard a kind of grunt or a kind of scream. The kind of grunt or scream a guy doesn’t want to sound like a full-blooded, crap your pants, scream. He didn’t want to sound scared. Of course, we thought it was funny.

After he dropped off the salt, he came back upstairs and told us there was a sewer rat in the trap. Like we didn’t know there was a rat in our basement. Seriously?

He said, “That rat was huge!” Yeah, we know. 

City Pool, Chicken Shack and Suckers

It was the summer. It was the Prospect house. Could have been the in between house, the Central house. I can’t remember for sure. It doesn’t really matter. It may have been 4th or 5th grade. 

Summers were hot when we were kids. Extremely hot. We went to the City Pool a lot. The water was blue and the sunburn was free. It was basically the only pool in town, unless of course your parents were members of the Elks Club and then you could go swimming there.

That pool was a really nice pool. We used to go there with the Kleins, Barb and Cindy. Luckily our uncle was a member, so when we said the name Friman, they let us in. Thanks Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy for helping out your nieces with our summer shenanigans. 

The city pool was far away from our house. Not like Narnia far, just far. It was about a mile probably. Sometimes we rode bikes, but most of the time we walked, towel wrapped around our shoulders, wearing our swimsuits and clutching our money in our hands. It was all downhill. The best kind of walk. It sucked going back home after swimming though. Being dead tired from swimming all day and then having to walk home all uphill. We went swimming with the Klein girls, Barb and Cindy, a lot. They were our best friends. They were awesome summer friends. 

It cost 15 cents to get into the pool. It probably still does. I know it was not very expensive at all. The pool opened at 1 and closed at 5. The line would be long waiting to get in. We would try to get there early to be the first in line. 

The pool had a slide and a diving board. In order to use the diving board, which was in the deep end, you had to demonstrate to a lifeguard that you could swim across the pool and back. They obviously didn’t want any kid to drown. I would test it once in a while. I would go jump off the diving board in the deep end. Sometimes they wouldn’t ask me to test it. Sometimes they would. I remember it seemed like it took forever to do it. We never had swimming lessons, so it was just kind of a learn to swim on your own type of thing we did. I could dog paddle and I could American crawl, kind of. Finally, one day I did it and I didn’t die. I then had the blessing, the lifeguard blessing, to go off the diving board and to be in the deep end of the pool. Legally. My summer was made. 

When swimming time was over, every single time we walked out of the pool and down the street on our way home, we stopped at the Chicken Shack. Chicken Shack had amazing food. Chicken of course, but it was broasted chicken. The super crispy on the outside and yummy and juicy on the inside. You know, the full of grease, which made it taste even better. I don’t remember getting to eat out as a kid, but I do remember our parents getting Chicken Shack chicken. The smell was always amazing. The building was painted bright yellow. It was on the corner of Crow and Dakota. Everyone knew the Chicken Shack. Everyone went there to carry out broasted chicken and broasted potato quarters. In case you were wondering, the best way to eat broasted chicken is by peeling back the skin and shaking some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on the meat. So delicious. Chicken Shack was the busiest place in town once the pool closed. Every single kid was in there buying something, anything, to eat, because we were starving after a long afternoon of non-stop swimming. 

We usually got suckers. That’s what we had enough money to buy. Once in a while we had enough for a candy bar, or a Chick-O-Stick. I always remember the suckers though. We would buy those Charms suckers. They were decent sized and cheap. A good treat for the long haul home. There was also another kind of sucker we would take our chances with. If you bought this sucker you could sometimes get another one free. It was a Tootsie Pop. If you found an Indian on the wrapper shooting an arrow at a star, you could get another one free. Score. Jackpot. We always tried it. We didn’t always win. 

Our adventures at the pool were always fun. We got sunburned and then the next day would have to wear a t-shirt in order to protect our skin. Apparently we never had sunscreen. We also got green hair out of the deal. Because our hair was so blonde, the chlorine would turn it green.  Green like slimy kale, not a pretty green the way everyone dyes their hair now. We were always so embarrassed, even though we didn’t need to be. We just hoped the green faded before the school year started…

Those were good kid times. We squeezed every single drop out of those hot summer days. 

June 3, 2000

I went there today. I went and looked at the lone tree standing on the property. The maple tree. I looked at the river and watched it flow. I could feel you there. I could sense you. I miss living in the house “on the river.” The river is such a beautiful place. The water is calming. The years have been good to the property. The lot is empty, except for the tree.

The tree looked healthy. The broken spot had healed after all these years. Did you break the tree? We think you did. We were all sitting around talking about you. We were drinking white russians, laughing and telling stories. We had been out in the sun porch for hours. It was dark and slightly windy. All of a sudden we heard an extremely loud crack. It scared us all. It was so loud. We looked out the window and noticed that the tree, the maple tree, was split almost in half. We couldn’t believe it. We think you did it. 

This place was the last place and the last time I saw you alive. The last time we saw you alive. The last time we had dinner with you. The last time you saw John. The last time you played with Tayler. Oh you were so protective of her. You doted on her, even though you only knew her for about 9 or so months. She was very special to you. We often wonder what it would have been like if you had lived. I’m sure you would have taught her all kinds of naughty things. But, you would have also taught her to be independent. You would have taught her to work hard. You would have taught her to be brave and strong. All the things you taught me. 

You said you were tired. You had spent the day in your yard doing yard work. You told mom you just wanted to go home. You were tired. I can still see you standing at the door getting ready to leave. Saying goodbye. 

That was the last time I saw you.

The next morning mom called and told me you were gone. I was in shock. How could that be? We went over to the house right away. I looked at you in your bed. You just looked like you were sleeping. I touched your hand and kissed you on the forehead and told you goodbye. June 3, 2000.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. This time of year I don’t even have to look at the calendar to know it’s here. I just know. I can feel it. It’s there. I can’t help but know. 

I know you visit often. The cardinal lets me know. He’s been here all week. Continue to Rest In Peace Dad. 

Bubbles…

Sometimes I just don’t know what I want to write about. I have been thinking about it all week. Some random stuff here and there bubbles up, but then it goes away. I am not sure if that bubble is what I want to write about. Nothing seems right. Nothing seems relevant. Yet nothing seems wrong and everything seems relevant. 

I am pretty sure that with Tayler’s graduation post and then the Memorial Day post, and my son, I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. It is amazing how much it takes out of me when I write a super emotional post. Even when I am writing, I have to get up and walk away. It is that difficult. It is almost haunting. When I walk away, the idea and the post are never far away. I constantly think about it. It’s kind of funny that once I get it down on paper or print if you will, I usually let it go. I usually don’t think about it that much again. Not these two posts. They are all I have thought about. Filling my brain. Filling that bubble.

This time has been different for obvious reasons. I keep thinking about those boys. Their faces. Their lives. The lives they left behind. The families trying to pick up the pieces. Trying to move on. Knowing there are more and more and more and then some more. If this affects me this way, I can’t even begin to imagine the families and the guys who served with them. So, so difficult. Hard times for so many people.

I think another milestone this week was my son, Spencer, turning 30. I can still remember him as a little boy. I can still see him reading in the chair. The smirk on his face with the Kool-Aid mustache. It is so amazing watching our kids grow, yet at the same time it tells us that life marches on and that we are getting older. It’s emotional. 

The youngest granddaughter had a birthday party. She turned two (almost) a few more days. Another milestone and another life doesn’t stop moment. Time keeps going. Life keeps happening. I keep living.

Tayler went on a road trip. She went on a road trip to Denver. More specifically, to Red Rocks, to a concert. She has never done that before. She and Alex and Gracie hopped in the car and took off. By themselves. No parent supervision. First stop Rapid for the night and then today the rest of the way to Denver. I know they will be fine. This is yet another reminder that life marches on. That she is growing up. That she can handle life. That she can handle adventures and road trips. That she can handle. 

So, as I sit here and type this blog post, she checked in and said there were eating. That makes me happy to know they made it. Happy to know they can take care of themselves. Happy to know they will love this road trip and this adventure. All by themselves.

everything i wanted and nothing i had

We played with our Pierre cousins a lot. Susan and Brenda. They belonged to my Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy. They lived on Huron Avenue, the ranch style brick house. They were constant. We lived at the Euclid House and the Central House and even the Prospect House when we spent the most time at that house. We weren’t as constant. 

These cousins weren’t matching for us. Susan was quite a bit older and Brenda was a year older than Wendy, if I recall correctly. They were always, always so nice to us. 

They had everything. The basement closet was full of board games. The floor in the basement had a shuffleboard game on it. It was super cool. The basement had a couple bedrooms, a bathroom, a bar, and the giant family room. There was cool furniture down there too. I actually have one of the end tables from their basement. Kind of modern style 50s piece. I like it. I won’t ever get rid of it. There was also a fireplace and I remember a net with starfish on it above the couch. That became a hand-me-down to the Prospect House. I think one of the dogs ate the starfish. So there’s that.

There were lots of pictures on the walls. I recall seeing some of Uncle Bob when he was in the Navy. There was also one of those chair things that you would put your feet on the bottom bar and then hang on to the top bar and then close yourself up like an ab crunch and then completely open and stretch out as far as you could. It was supposed to be good for the back and a nice ab workout. I think I spent a lot of time playing with that chair thing. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

The upstairs also had a big living room, a dining room, the kitchen, a bathroom, maybe even two, and two or three bedrooms. The upstairs was always spotless. Everything in its place and nothing out of place. 

The backyard had perfectly mowed grass and a big swing set. They had croquet and kickballs. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

They had Barbies and snow boots without bread bags. We couldn’t wait to get their hand-me-downs. We didn’t even care that the boots didn’t have any grip anymore. They had side zippers and were stylish and they were brown, not red. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

We played with the Barbies in Brenda’s room. In her closet actually. It was huge. The Barbies had tons of clothes on hangers and lots of shoes. Ken was there too. I loved playing Barbies. They had so many. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

She also had one of those jewelry boxes that had the ballerina inside when you opened it. She danced to the music. The box was full of jewelry. Bracelets and necklaces. They took dance from Mrs. Forney. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

At one point, my parents were remodeling the Prospect house and it came a point when we had to stay with Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy. We stayed in the basement. I remember using the lemon shampoo on my hair. I found it under the sink in a basket. I loved that smell. Fresh lemons. There was also the shampoo that mom would never buy us, “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific.” That stuff did smell terrific. For reals. 

Aunt Sandy made us breakfast every single morning before school. It was everything I wanted and nothing I had. She treated us like we were her own kids. It was so nice of her to open up her home to us. I think at that time both Susan and Brenda were gone. It seemed like it anyway. I could be wrong. I think I was in junior high at the time. 

I could tell that Aunt Sandy loved taking care of us. It was nice to be treated like that. It was nice to have everything I wanted. 

I remembered always feeling envious. Why couldn’t I have all those Barbies? Why couldn’t I have those nice boots? Why couldn’t we have a croquet set and a nice swing set? Why couldn’t we have a bazillion board games?

When it came right down to it though, it was kind of dumb to be envious of them. They worked hard for what they had. My parents worked hard for what they had. There was no reason for me to be envious. My parents couldn’t afford that stuff at that point in their lives. If there was one thing that they taught us, it was to work hard. A good work ethic will take you far. We were taught to be happy with what we had. There will always be someone who has more than you and there will always be someone who has less than you. There will be. It’s just the way it is. 

I look back and I realize how everything I wanted and nothing I had was not really true. I had everything I needed and nothing I didn’t.

 

Tayler

My thoughts have been jumbled. My emotions have been raw. It’s been hard to concentrate. It’s been hard to think. I have been thinking and thinking and thinking some more. I have been feeling and feeling and feeling some more. 

I started and restarted this post and don’t want to make it sound ridiculous. I have been trying to put the words down, but my mind can’t get them the way I want them. I’m trying to not be mushy and embarrass you. 

I have been thinking about writing this post all week. I have struggled putting into words how much you mean to me and how proud I am of you. Parenting is tough. Being a kid is tough. Lots of times those two roles don’t mesh. We got lucky. We meshed. 

It has been an amazing journey watching you grow up. It has been heartbreaking watching you struggle at times. I wanted to take away your hurt. You always knew it was your path though. You always knew God was right there with you. Guiding you. Directing you. Your attitude and faith amaze me. I love that about you. You totally believe and you know. 

I love that you are independent and smart aleck-y. You are strong. You know your worth and you don’t back down for things you believe in. My traits.

You are compassionate and caring. You are beautiful. You are kind to everyone. You know the difference between right and wrong. You always do the right thing, even if it’s hard. John’s traits. 

You got the best of both of us. We knew you would. 

You are so funny and quick-witted. You have an amazing sense of humor. – Grandpa Gary’s traits. He would have loved you. I wish you could have known him. 

You wrote thank you cards without us having to tell you. Ever since you could write well enough, probably third or fourth grade, you started writing letters to your teachers at the end of every school year. You started writing letters to people who were important to you. You started writing letters to your friends. One of the recipients of a letter from you told me, “You done good.” He said we did a great job raising you. Ultimately, that is what a parent wants to hear. I think we did a good job too.

The time is here. Graduation. You are graduating from high school. I still remember the day you were born. The time went fast. I knew it would. You were a beautiful baby with big blue eyes. You were such a good baby. Our hearts were full.

The years have flown by, just like they say. So fast. It seems like yesterday we were taking your picture for Kindergarten. You were so excited and we were so heavy hearted.

Sunday is the day. I am filled with emotions. Bittersweet. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to do. I know you will be okay on your own, but at the same time I worry about you. 

I hope we did enough to prepare you. You are strong. You trust your instincts. You are  compassionate. You know your worth. You speak the truth. You have amazing character and morals. We got lucky with you. 

I have been trying to come up with advice or words of wisdom to share with you. But then I realized we have been advising you for 18 years. What else can we do. 

I will miss your crazy annoying laugh. Your drive-us-nuts dancing around the living room while we try to watch tv. Your using the dining room table as your depository for all coats, jackets, shoes and school paraphernalia. We will miss that. 

As I hear you downstairs cleaning out your backpack, I realize, it’s time for you to experience life. It’s time to go. It’s time to fly. It’s time to go places. It’s time to shine. We love you!

So Tayler – 

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

So…

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or

Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

you’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!”

—The Places You Will go — Dr. Seuss 

City Kids

 

When we were little, we used to go to our cousins’ farm for two weeks every summer. It was in Hurley, well not exactly in Hurley, more out in the country. Hurley is a small town my family lived in until we moved to Pierre, when I started Kindergarten. There was a fire incident at that house involving a rug. Fire and me started early. Hurley is really small. The population in 2014 was 403. Hurley is located 30 miles southwest of Sioux Falls. 

My cousins had two farms. They also had two giant German Shepherds, Lady and King. They lived at the first farm until they moved to their grandma’s farm, the second farm. The cousins moved there after their grandma could no longer live there.

We were all close in age. My older sister, Wendy’s matching cousin was Nancy. My matching cousin was Lisa and my younger sister, Sherry’s matching cousin was Amy. My brother didn’t have a matching cousin, but there were two older cousins, Doug and Brad. Later came Sara, she was a St. Patrick’s Day baby. I remember my aunt Sue’s belly touched the steering wheel when she was pregnant with Sara. I seriously don’t know how she could even drive. 

We were city kids. I was definitely not a country kid. The farm wasn’t my favorite place to be. I should specify. I liked the farm, but was afraid of every single animal on the farm. The sheep, the pigs, the cows and guess what? I was even afraid of the chickens. Those suckers would come after me. I remember one time the sheep got out and we were all supposed to go outside and try to get them rounded up and put back. I was slow. I was scared to go out. I was scared to be around those sheep. I didn’t know how to herd them. I didn’t know anything about them. I still had to go out and help. I barely remember helping. I just know I was scared every step of the way. 

We picked weeds and we picked rocks. We worked. It wasn’t a vacation. We played in the hayloft and in the silo. We were outside most of the time. Summer was fun, except for the farm animals. We used to get the rotten eggs and go out in the trees and throw them at the old cars that died and were left to rust. One day there was a dead cow and it was covered in maggots. I thought I was going to die, but at the same time it was fascinating. It was fascinating until Wendy’s matching cousin, Nancy, got a stick and then covered the end of the stick with maggots and then chased me around the barnyard. I swear that is the reason I could run so fast. So, I guess I should thank her. 

A treat was when we went to Turkey Ridge. It was a small grocery store/gas station a few miles away. I always got the pack of tiny size chiclets gum. It was candy coated and so sugary and sweet. I’m surprised I didn’t have a billion cavities. I would also get the red licorice strings. I remember tying the strings in knots until I couldn’t anymore and then I would precisely and methodically eat one knot at a time until it was gone. I remember one time we were driving to Turkey Ridge, Brad usually had to drive us, but I think it was just all us girls this time, but the song Afternoon Delight was playing. We were all laughing because the song had been played to death. I think we hated it. Whenever I hear that song now, I think of that time and I think of how much fun we had. 

My cousins had a few weird ways of eating things. We always had good food, but when we had Jello they would put Cool Whip in it and then mix it all together. Ewwwwww. I don’t understand how they could ruin perfectly good Jello by mixing in the Cool Whip. I just don’t get it. We always had something good to eat and always a good dessert. There was a chocolate cake they used to make. I am trying to think of the name, but I can’t quite remember. I want to say atomic cake or something like that. The best chocolate cake EVER. 

Another thing that I thought was odd was when aunt Sue made coffee. The coffee was a stovetop pot. She would put an egg in the grounds. She will have to explain this to me because I don’t know why she did it. I might have missed something about it. I remember strange things sometimes. I remember parts of strange things sometimes.

Our time on the farm was so good for us. City kids need to have a little taste of the country. The time of a kid’s life is playing outside and learning to work hard at a young age. I remember so many things about the farm. So many good memories. So many cousin memories. So many cherished memories. I am grateful for my time on the farm.

Rest In Peace Mike

An old friend died today (April 10, 2018).

Mike died today.

I’ve known him since Kindergarten. A tiny, blond haired boy with glasses. I remember thinking his hair was as blond as mine. I liked that. Mike was the sweetest of boys. So kind-hearted. So friendly. So nice. He never changed. He was always like that all through high school. Mike was raised around girls and he knew how to be nice to girls. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He was like a brother to me. He was just so easy to like. He was nice to everybody.

We meet people for a reason and people come back into our lives for a reason. Mike and I were good friends after high school. I even used him as a reference for a job. I hadn’t seen Mike or talked to him much after that, in person anyway. We were friends on Facebook and messaged back and forth once in a while.

The thing is, we don’t know what is going to happen with our lives. We only know there is a plan. God does have a plan for each and every one of us. We don’t know the reason why some things happen. We see the thread, weaving it’s way through the story of our lives. Part of Mike’s plan was cancer. That thread was cancer.

A few years ago, Mike’s sister, Nikki, came into my life. I loved her just as much as I loved Mike. Just as kind-hearted, just as nice. Just as friendly. Just as special. I believe the reason for Nikki coming into my life was so I could reconnect with Mike. Mike was our common thread.

I knew each member of the Hawkins family. Kim was a year older. Mike was my age. Then there was Rise, Amy, Nikki and the baby, Sarah. Their grandma lived by Lincoln School. The grade school Mike and I attended. The Hawkins blondies were there a lot playing outside. Their grandma was the sweetest little lady. She used to come into Sooper Dooper when I worked there through high school. Again, Mike was the common thread.

Our dads went to school together. Same high school as all of us.

I sent Mike a Facebook message, the last message, on March 31st. I knew he wasn’t doing well. Nikki had told me she was heading down to be with him.

“I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and have been praying for you constantly. I pray for peace and comfort. Know that I love you and appreciate your friendship! Hugs to you dear friend.” I knew it was coming to the end for him. I knew it wasn’t going to be long. I wanted him to stop suffering. I wanted him to feel better. It wasn’t in the plan. This was a dark thread in Mike’s journey.

Nikki texted me today (April 10th) and told me Mike went home. I knew it. My intuition had him constantly on my mind. I had a feeling it was today. I knew it was today. I just knew. He is not suffering anymore. He is in a better place. Nikki told me he never complained. I totally believe that. So like him.

I was looking through some of the Facebook posts from classmates and everyone posted about his smile, or how kind he was. He always had a kind word or asked how they were. I looked at his Facebook page and there were many posts from his co-workers. People talked about how many hearts he has touched and how much they will miss him. He will definitely be missed.

Mike can see the quilt now. It’s not just threads here and there anymore. He knows the reason. He knows.

Rest In Peace Mike Hawkins. I will miss you my friend.

Life is short. Live accordingly.

I had to jump

The day was like any other. It was summer. It was the Euclid house. My brother and I were playing, like usual. We had a babysitter, like usual. We were doing stuff we weren’t supposed to, like usual.

It was the blue house, just two houses down from ours. It had a porch on it. We were constantly climbing on the roof of that house. I think we started in a pine tree near the back and then climbed onto the roof. It was easy.

We were on the really high part of the roof and made our way to the front of the house. It was kind of a jump to get down to the porch roof. Probably three or four feet. The porch roof was probably 12-14 feet off the ground. It was high. To me, anyway.

I don’t know why we actually climbed on people’s roofs. What the heck? They must not have been home, otherwise I am sure they would have yelled at us to get down and get away from their house.

So, like I said, it was just like any other day, until it was different. We were on the porch roof and we were playing. We must have gotten bored because now it was time to head out. Hmm. We had a dilemma. We were too short to make the little climb back to the regular part of the roof. Remember, that little three or four foot part I talked about?

I told Jeff I would help him up. He either stepped on my back or he could jump to hang on and I boosted him the rest of the way or I laced my hands together and he put a foot in and I boosted him. I’m not sure what we did. Anyway, I helped him and he was back up on the main part of the roof. Now it was my turn. I asked him where he was going. I yelled at him. I helped him. Now it was his turn. Only he didn’t help me. He left me.

I kept trying to jump up and grab something to hang on to so I could pull myself up to the other part of the roof. I couldn’t. I tired myself out. It was too hard and I was too short and now I was too tired. I was also really, really mad.

I just hung out on the porch roof. Waiting. I’m not sure what I was waiting for, but I was there, waiting for it. Just waiting.

Pretty soon my sisters came over to the house and were talking to me. We were trying to figure out I was going to get out of this mess. After going through several scenarios we decided the only thing and best thing for me to do was to jump. That’s pretty sad that that was the best thing for me to do. They decided they would get some pillows and some blankets and I could land on those when I jumped. About the only thing to break my fall was some grass and a sidewalk. That’s it. Nothing else.

They left and I waited some more, contemplating my sure death. I mean, seriously, how could I not get hurt jumping off this porch roof? A while later they came back with blankets and pillows. They set them all out very nicely on the ground and let me know when they thought everything was ready.

I looked down and it was so high. There had to be a better way. If there was, we couldn’t think of it or figure it out. It was the only solution. I kept looking down at the ground. I was scared. It was really high. Really high.

I had to do it. It was time. I wasn’t getting down unless I jumped. I walked up to the edge of the porch and looked down. I looked at the pillows and blankets. I looked at the grass and the sidewalk. I looked around for another way. I looked and looked. Nothing. I really did not want to jump off that porch roof.

I counted, 1. 2. 3. When I got to 3, I held my breath, closed my eyes and I jumped. I landed with a giant thud. I landed on the sidewalk in a seated position. I was scared to look. I was scared to open my eyes. I was scared to breathe. Hmmm. I opened my eyes and looked around. I managed to miss every single pillow and every single blanket. I knocked the wind out of myself. I couldn’t breathe, but at least I didn’t die and at least I was down.

I can’t remember if we told our parents what happened. I am pretty sure that I wasn’t too happy with my brother for a long time after that. Maybe that curtailed my roof climbing expeditions too. Maybe…