Jeanie, the babysitter

Her name was Jeanie. A babysitter. Our babysitter. A once-in-a-while babysitter. One of many. We went through a lot of them. She lived close by. Maybe two blocks away. She lived on Euclid and East Seneca. She lived in a small white house with concrete steps leading to the front door. There was a railing too. It was made of wrought iron and was black in color and decorative, pretty much like all step railings at that time. 

She came to our house to babysit us. The Euclid house. This was an evening. I’m not sure why we needed a babysitter at night. The parents never went out. I’m not sure what was going on, but anyway, she came to babysit. 

We were excited, Jeanie was a fun babysitter. She was really nice. She was going to make macaroni and cheese and we were going to watch movies, maybe play some games and have Jiffy Pop Popcorn later on in the evening. Something else also happened in the evening. 

Sherry and I were super excited. We were going to have a slumber party. Not that Pasty was staying overnight or anything, but we were just pretending it was going to be a slumber party. We got all of the pillows and blankets and made a bed in the living room. Awesome! This was going to be so fun. 

We had already eaten macaroni and cheese and now we were ready for the Jiffy Pop Popcorn. I loved that popcorn. I wonder if they still make it. Whoever they are. We watched intently as Jeanie made the popcorn. She patiently shook the pan until the foil started to expand and fill with popped popcorn. She was careful not to burn it. There is nothing worse than burnt popcorn. I think we even got to have pop with it. Our parents used to buy the quart bottles of Coke or Pepsi. The glass ones you had to pay a deposit on. They came in a six pack. I preferred Coke. There is nothing like the combination of popcorn and pop. Mmmmm, so delicious. 

We were eating our snack and then decided to play a game. I can’t remember if we were going to play Monopoly or Sorry. I hope it was Sorry. I really don’t like Monopoly. It’s my story, so I am going to say we played Sorry. Once we finished that it was time for the other thing that happened that night. First we changed into pajamas.

We decided to have a pillow fight. I really don’t know whose idea it was. It was probably Sherry’s. My story, so it was Sherry. Now, Jeanie was a big girl. She was overweight, but we loved her anyway. We didn’t care what she looked like. She was a fun babysitter. 

Jeanie was sitting on the couch. I was standing on the floor facing her and Sherry had her back to Jeanie and was facing me. All of a sudden with one big swipe Sherry was on the floor. Completely flattened. Lying face down and not moving. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I mean, think about it. Someone gets body slammed a pillow. Completely flattened by said pillow. Funny, right? I think so. At the same time I was a little concerned she may have been dead. 

We waited for what seemed like forever. In reality, it was probably 15 seconds max. Was it going to be an ambulance call or just a “I’m telling mom” call. This is Sherry we are talking about, so it’s just a “I’m telling mom” call. She was the biggest tattle tale ever. 

The wind had been completely knocked out of her. Every last bit of it. Once she came back to life, I started laughing. I thought it was so funny. I can still picture it. It was like it was in slow motion. Jeanie taking the pillow up over her head and behind her and then swinging it back to the front with a crap ton of overweight babysitter force. The pillow hit Sherry with such force that her nightgown flew up to her belly. Her knees didn’t even have time to bend, she was instantly flattened to the ground. I mean flattened. She didn’t crumple to the ground, she just flattened. Facedown flattened. 

Jeanie felt terrible. I could tell. I am pretty sure she thought she would get in trouble from our parents. I think she just gave Sherry extra popcorn and pop and all was good again. I’m pretty sure there were no more pillow fights after that incident. 

Adventures in babysitting. Always a good time. 

i’m sensing a theme

It’s a theme. I’ve written about it quite often. Three times, at least. Pants peeing. It’s a thing. Or it was a thing during my childhood anyway. I can happily say it hasn’t happened as an adult. I’m pretty stoked about that. 

This time it was the Euclid house. My and Sherry’s bedroom. We shared a bedroom. It was pretty small. It had a dresser and a bed and a closet. If you remember the fire story, that is the closet we were thrown into after our ass beating for starting our bed on fire. Funny. Not then, but now. 

We were in bed doing nothing. Apparently quite bored with our lives at this point. We were around 7 and 8 or 8 and 9. We were definitely old enough to know better. Most people are when they do something they shouldn’t. 

We didn’t have a TV in our room. We didn’t really have anything. Boredom is what we had. Time on our hands. The worst thing in the world for kids. What’s that phrase? Something about idle hands… I’m not even sure how the conversation started. I think it might have been me. I will take the blame. I am the older sister, so I guess it’s only fair. It still may have been Sherry. I can’t fully recall. It’s been a LONG time ago. I bet Sherry might remember, just because she got in trouble. 

So, like I said, there we were in bed, contemplating our lives. Nothing exciting. I told Sherry that if she peed the bed I would. What??? Yep. We were rotten little kids. Frankly, I am surprised we didn’t get in more trouble. We were always up to something. Always. 

Actually, as I am writing this, I think Sherry said that if I peed she would. It’s becoming clearer as the story unfolds. An aha moment in the memory bank. 

Being the responsible big sister and wanting to help a girl out, I told her sure. So as we were lying there in bed with the covers pulled up to our necks like there were ghosts and vampires coming to get us, I did it. 

I didn’t really do it. I just told Sherry I did it. Obviously I had a lying problem too. I only told Sherry I did it because I actually had a hard time trying to pee my pants. I couldn’t force myself. Sherry didn’t have that problem.

As soon as I told her I peed, she went for it. She gave it everything she had. She did it. She peed her pants all over the bed. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe she really thought I would pee my pants. Hahahahahaha. Sucker!

Of course she tattled. We both got in trouble. She got in trouble for peeing her pants in bed. Apparently that was frowned upon in our house. I got in trouble for making her do it. Really? I did no such thing. It was her choice. I just helped a girl out. 

The lesson here is to never trust someone older than you, especially if it is a situation like this. I mean, really Sherry? You actually believed that I would pee my pants? 

cousins always have your back

I remember them the most. The shorts. The olive green colored polyester. The fringe. The ugliness. The kid clothes. Nothing cool. Everything ugly.

It was summertime. We were at the cousins, the farm and all the farm animals that go along with it. You know, because it was, a farm. I was probably 10 or 11 years old.

We spent most of the day playing. We usually played in the barn, specifically the hayloft. The barn was huge. The hayloft was also huge. We had so much fun, just spending hours and hours hanging out and playing. It seemed like there were always kittens in the hayloft too. We always tried to catch them and pet them. 

Inside the barn there were animals. I have mentioned previously (in another post) how afraid of the animals I was. All of the animals. I was even scared of the chickens. Some chickens are assholes though, so I think that is totally justified. 

In order to get to the hayloft we had to walk through a section of animals. Pigs. On the way up to play, I safely made it through that section, only because the pigs were outside. Up the ladder to the hayloft. Safe and sound. Yay me.

I was wearing olive green shorts. They were disgusting. Stretchy polyester. I cut fringes into them to make them look more cool. It didn’t work. They just looked ridiculous. I really wanted blue jean shorts with fringe. That wasn’t going to happen, so in my mind this was the next best thing. I was also wearing a ratty old striped shirt. The shirt was probably polyester too. Good thing playing with matches wasn’t included on this trip. 

Brad was my cousin. I looked up to him. He was a fun cousin and watched out for me. He knew I was the biggest chicken ever. He never held that against me. He just looked out for us city cousins and spent time with us no matter what. He was a great cousin.

We had been playing in the barn for hours. I had to go pee. I had to go pee, bad. Apparently, people pee outside. How? I wasn’t sure how they did this without getting pee all over themselves. That would have to be perfected at a later date. I wanted to go in the house and go to the bathroom. About this time all the pigs came back in the barn. I was not pleased. In fact, I was petrified. There was no way I could walk through those pigs to get out of the barn. I just couldn’t. I was frozen with fear. That feeling, the fear, the scared, would not go away. I hated it. I couldn’t control it. 

Brad was looking out for me. He knew how afraid I was of those pigs. He said he would get me out of there. A shoulder ride. The perfect solution. It was brilliant. I was on the ladder that led up to the hayloft. Just hanging out. I wasn’t going anywhere. Brad came to me and I climbed on his shoulders. Perfection. Out through the pigs he walked. They were all around him. I couldn’t stand it. I was freaked out. He kept walking. 

We got almost through them and I couldn’t do it. I started to pee. I couldn’t stop. I peed all over his shoulders and the back of his neck. I was mortified. I couldn’t help it though. I felt terrible. 

As soon as we got out of the pigs he put me down. He wasn’t too mad. Everyone teased me, which was to be expected. It’s cousins after all. I ran in the house and changed my clothes. 

I was just glad to be safe from the pigs. But more grateful for a cousin who saved me. Even though I peed on his shoulders, he had my back. Cousins. 

I knew i was addicted

 

Summers were fun for us as kids. We used to go boating all the time. It seemed like we went every weekend. We had an old red and white boat. It was small, but it did the job. We didn’t know any different. It was a ski boat, not a fishing boat. Dad liked to boat and swim and ski. He was a very good water skier. He used to be able to ski with my sister on his shoulders. I don’t recall witnessing this, so maybe it isn’t true. But I always remember hearing it. He tried to teach me to ski. I was terrible. I couldn’t get up. I tried and tried and tried. The next day, I had solid bruises down my thighs. It looked like someone tortured me. It was true. It was called a ski rope. I was so mad I couldn’t ski. I never ever tried again. 

Almost every single time after swimming we got to stop at the A&W and get root beer. Dad got a big mug and we got the little baby frosted mugs. Ice cold. I can still taste it and smell it. The car hop brought the tray out and hooked it onto your car using the window slot. They had kind of a rubber kind of tray liner on the trays. I guess people spilled a lot. Sometimes we would get food too. A hamburger or a hot dog, along with some french fries. Their food was good and the root beer was so refreshing after hours of being out in the sun. It was the highlight of the outing. 

Another thing was good too. I thought about it during the all-afternoon outings. I couldn’t wait to get home. I couldn’t wait to smell the lit match. I couldn’t wait to get that hit of smoke from the cigarette. Something about being in the water all afternoon made me want it. Anyone who has ever been addicted you know what I’m talking about. That initial hit. That immediate calm. That immediate relaxation. That immediate satisfaction. It’s not just cigarettes. This is true for anything that one can become addicted to. Drugs, alcohol, even food. You know how it is. You think it about it. You think about it a lot. You especially think about it when it gets closer and closer to the time you can have it. You actually get a little anxious. You actually get a little excited. It is such a crazy thing to think how we are wired. 

Here is the really crazy part. I was ten years old. How can a ten year old feel this? How can a ten year old even know or comprehend this. I knew I was addicted. I knew I needed to stop. It wasn’t like I was a pack a day smoker or anything, but I was getting hooked. I would take one here and one there from the parents. Not enough that they would ever be able to tell. The hooks were digging in. The hands were wrapping around me tighter and tighter. The smoky rope was tying me up. It was holding me hostage. It was real. The addiction was real. It was scary to think about it.

At that point in time my ten year old brain was realizing that smoking was bad,  that smoking was not cool. It wasn’t good for my body. I turned it around. I stopped. I had to. I didn’t want to be addicted to cigarettes. I didn’t want to stink like smoke. I stopped then and there. 

To think about it now, it’s ridiculous. It actually disgusts me. I am so glad I was able to break away from the addiction. But ten years old!!! WTF!!! It came back again as an adult and I kicked it again. It is getting close to 20 years smoke free. I will stay smoke free the rest of my life. 

scars

I wasn’t sure why it happened. I didn’t know what I did wrong. I didn’t know why he picked me. I was in second or third grade. It was the Euclid house. It happened at least twice a week. 

My walk home path from school was to leave the school through the front doors, take a left to the corner of Central, walk up Central to Oak and then take Oak the rest of the way until I came to Euclid. Sometimes I would cut through the alley by Branch Wolf’s house, if I wanted to get home sooner, about one minute sooner. Otherwise I would hit the corner and walk the rest of way on Euclid. Sometimes I would dawdle and play along the way. A typical kid. 

Sometimes I would walk really slow, because I knew what was coming. I don’t know why I wasn’t smart enough to take a different route home. But, looking back, maybe I just didn’t know how to go another way. Once a route is presented to a child, the child tends to stick to what they are told to do. Deviation comes with consequences. I walked super slow hoping they would not be there. I kept looking, trying to see if they were there. I couldn’t tell. 

I would get to the corner of Oak and Grand. The corner house. The tall, tall lilac bushes separated the sidewalk and the yard. I was walking by. Then it happened. Two older boys jumped out of the bushes and started hitting me. They knocked me to the ground and kicked me and hit me. Then they ran off. The whole episode lasted maybe 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds felt like forever. Everything on the ground, my books and me. I stayed there waiting. Waiting for them to leave, hoping they would leave. I stayed there until I could not hear their laughter anymore. I stayed there until it was safe to get up. I cried and ran home.

There was no-one  to tell, or I just didn’t tell anyone. I don’t remember telling anyone at all. I don’t remember if they threatened me if I told on them or what. I just don’t remember. I remember the name of one of them. The other I don’t. The one I remember grew up to be a nice guy, I guess. 

I dreaded the walk home. Never knowing if it was going to happen. It was kind of like a game. A cat and mouse game, only I was the mouse. At least two days a week I was the mouse. I was the one being bullied. I was the one who got picked on. 

I still can’t figure out what I did that would prompt them to beat me up. They were 5th or 6th graders. I hate that I remember this. Why wouldn’t I just forget. Chalk it up to childhood stuff. Childhood things that really don’t mean anything. Just things. Just childhood things. But it was childhood things that I remember. Childhood things that scar. Childhood things that fade, but never go completely away. 

I think that is why I stood up for kids who got picked on. A few years after this, there was a kid at school who got teased all the time. He was in the special ed class. His name was Greg. He was picked on constantly. I hated to watch. I couldn’t stand it. I remember protecting him. I remember telling them to stop picking on him. I felt so bad for him. I bet he cried every single day. He just wanted to belong. He just wanted to have fun. He just wanted to fit in. 

I wonder where he is now…

I wonder where the cats are now…

The smell of a memory

I took the dropper out of the bottle. The bottle was dark brown with a white label. I put half a dropper full in the palm of my hand. I gently rubbed my hands together and then applied the oil to my face. I was immediately hit with the smell. What is that? I wondered. It was so familiar. I kept smelling it trying to bring the memory back. I looked like a huffer, standing in my bathroom, inhaling the smell over and over again. Ahh, there it was, the memory.

I was back in the Euclid house. I was back to my sister, Wendy’s, paint by number kits. The faces with the big hats and droopy eyes. Very detailed. The little plastic containers of paint with the corresponding numbers were all hooked together by plastic, like a plastic chain gang. The brushes were small and low quality. The cardboard paint board had the numbers all over the board. The canvas was approximately 8×11 in size and had light blue ink. Hours spent on each master piece. Hours spent on the creation. Hoping it looked “real.” Hoping it looked like you actually painted it yourself. Free hand, not line and number hand. Wondering if you could frame it and hang it up in the house. Could it be that real looking? Could it be that good? Hell no! Not even close. 

Wendy did a good job with her paintings. Me, not so much. I couldn’t stay in the lines to save my life. I had to be careful with the paint. It’s like paining your toenails or fingernails. You think you are being super careful and then you get the big ass giant blob of paint on the first stroke and no matter what you try to do to fix it, it doesn’t work. Polish all over the place, same with the paint. I would get so frustrated. Patience didn’t exist for me then. I had a little temper, or stubbornness, take your pick. They are pretty much the same. 

Those kits provided hours of learning and hours of spending time on a craft, even if it was cheating using the numbers to create a painting.  Hours spent learning patience. Hours spent learning the art of patience. I wonder who invented them. What a great idea it was, and a moneymaker no doubt. I always remember Wendy doing stuff like that. She was always sketching in notebooks too. She was creative. She still is. I am so glad we had the opportunity as kids to do those kinds of things. We were lucky. 

The oil I was busy huffing trying to bring back the memory was Rosehip Seed Oil. I wonder if it was a base for the paints. It is so weird though every time I smell it now that is the only thing I can think of. 

It is so interesting how so many memories came alive from just a smell. Life is curious and life is crazy sometimes. 

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.