…and then there were none

My uncle died this week, September 14th. His name was Bob. He was in the middle. He was the 4th oldest of seven, three above and three below. He was my dad’s brother. My dad was the baby. They were 15 years apart. 

Uncle Bob had that cool calm demeanor. Even if things were stressful or chaotic you would never know it. I can hear his voice, the way he said my name. The way he delivered anything he said. He had kind of drawl to his voice. The words were formed slowly and were delivered with precision and velvet smoothness. 

At the visitation on Tuesday (September 18th) there was a slide show of many, many pictures of  him and family. He had a great family. Brenda and Susan (the city cousins) were his daughters. Every single picture of him with those girls absolutely oozed love. You could see it. You could almost feel it. He and his wife, Sandy (passed away in 2015), absolutely adored those girls. They could not have kids of their own and they opened their hearts and home to these girls. You never would have known they were not born to them. There was one particular picture where he and Susan were sitting at a table and the way they were looking at each other brought tears to my eyes. It’s a dad and daughter love for sure. I see it with John and Tayler all the time. 

There were pictures of him with dad and his other brothers and sisters. There were some pictures of dad I had never seen before. The memory of his funeral came flooding back and I felt so bad for Brenda and Susan because I knew what it felt like. I had lived it. I think the hardest part was watching Brenda’s daughter, and Susan’s two boys. Losing their grandpa was hitting them hard. Grandparents are the best and it is so hard to lose them. It was hard to witness. I wish them strength and peace. 

Uncle Bob beat the genes. He beat the Friman genes. They weren’t good. There was a family history of heart disease and high blood pressure. My grandpa, Roy, died at the age of 62. World War I Veteran. I believe the cause of death was hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Dad was 18 at the time. That would have been hard, losing your dad when you were only 18. Uncle Bob would have been about a month shy of his 33rd birthday. That is still very young to lose a parent. Grandma died about 20 years later. 

There were two girls and five boys. Muriel was the oldest. They called her Sis. I remember her from when I was little. I can only remember a few times though. She lived in Oregon and we didn’t see her that often. Dad died on June 3, 2000. When Muriel found out he died, she said she could go now. She died on June 15, 2000. She was 79 years old. 

Everett was the next oldest. I remember being around him only a handful of times as well. He lived in Iowa. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, Corie, I received a phone call, telling me that he had died. He was 64 years old. Heart attack. Veteran, United States Navy. 

Next in the lineup was Duane. Duane lived in Sioux Falls. We didn’t see him often either. I can remember being around him when I was young. They all had that wicked sense of humor and a common look about them. Duane died in 1981. He was 58 years old. Heart attack. 

Uncle Bob is up next. Right smack in the middle of them all. Maybe that was his ticket to better health. Just kidding. I know Uncle Bob’s lifestyle contributed to his long life. He ate well and he exercised. He jogged all the time and he was an avid golfer. In fact he golfed in early August of this year with Susan. Very impressive. Uncle Bob was 93 years old at the time of his death. He hit the jackpot. He lived a very good life. He was a good guy and he was a great uncle to us. He was done. His body was tired. He went to be with Aunt Sandy and the rest of his family. Veteran, United States Navy. 

Uncle Don came next. I think next to Uncle Bob, we saw Uncle Don the most. I believe he and Dad were the closest of friends. He was at our house a lot and we visited a few times when he lived in Kansas. Uncle Don always reminded me of the actor, Ed Harris. He looked like him. The wicked sense of humor was strong with this guy. He was so funny and loved life. He lived it. Uncle Don died on July 1, 2000. He was 66 years old. Heart attack. Veteran, United States Navy.

Aunt Shirley was next. She lived in California, Santa Barbara. When I was in high school I thought about moving out and living with her and establishing residency and then going to school out there. I wonder how different my life would have been if I had. Decisions made are so interesting. Life decisions are so interesting. Shirley died January 3, 1992. Cancer of the bronchial tubes. 

Next up, the baby of the bunch. My dad, Gary. The crazy, funny, life loving dad. I miss him every single day. He couldn’t escape the Friman genes. He had quadruple bypass surgery when he was 48 years old. That bought him 12 more years. He died June 3, 2000. He was 60 years old. Heart attack. 

Here we have the birth order and the death order. 2000 was a very sad year. 

Name                    Year of Birth               Name                 Year of Death

Muriel                         1920                     Duane                      1981                                  

Everett                        1921                     Everett                     1986                          

Duane                         1923                     Shirley                     1992

Bob                             1925                     Gary (Dad)               2000

Don                             1933                     Muriel                      2000

Shirley                         1935                     Don                         2000

Gary                            1940                     Bob                         2018

…and then there were none. May they all rest in peace. 

Messages

The voice. I recognized it instantly. “My name is Sandy Austin Asbury, I’m an FBI Agent here in Pierre, South Dakota, and I was a construction guide at the World Trade Center in the summers, 1968, 69 and 70. 

I could hear the struggle in her speech. How hard it was for her to sound out her Ss. At the same time she sounded so good. See, Sandy’s cancer was initially found in her mouth, on the side of her tongue. It was melanoma. I’m sure you’ve heard of melanoma. Part of her tongue had to be removed. A big portion on the side. She had to have lots of speech therapy afterwards in order to get her speech back to any semblance of normal. She worked hard and she did great. 

Yesterday was the 17 year anniversary of 9/11. The terrorist attack on US soil. The taking down of the Twin Towers in New York City. A day that will never be forgotten. 

After the attack, I remember Sandy telling me that she was being interviewed for a special. A special involving the building of the World Trade Center. There were several young girls who worked at the site as it was being built. They were construction guides. They were also called Building Stewardesses. There were a lot of upset people because of the construction project. These girls were hired to be guides to the public. It was a great public relations move so as to get people on board with the project. They had uniforms and explained the project to the interested public. They had to know what was what. They had to be ready for any construction-related questions. They had to be trained well. 

“This taking a guide job was a big step for me because I had been painfully shy when I was very very young. I was viewed as somewhat of a hippie-looking person — bell bottoms, long hair and blowing bubbles wherever I went and wearing sandals. But in my little uniform when I was a girl guide I looked just little miss all American.”

This week has been strange. I needed to write this. Sandy has been on my mind all week. Since Monday, the 10th, I have heard the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling song at least eight times. That was the song that was played at her funeral. There have been so many connections to her this week. It has been almost laughable. I know she is letting me know she is around. 

I was tagged on Facebook by Kathy, Sandy’s step-daughter. Kathy was there with Nancy, Bill and me around Sandy’s bed when she took her last breath. She’s special to me. She always will be. Kathy tagged me with the link to the interview. As I started listening, I couldn’t help but smile, after the tears, of course. I loved Sandy’s voice. It is so soothing and she always sounded so happy and full of life. 

I think the most important thing Sandy said during that interview is still so extremely relevant. She was definitely a trail blazer and was a very strong woman. She stood up for herself and for other women. She was such an amazing person and I still miss her so much. 

“The possibilities of all the trade and business and commercial things that went on as a young woman just getting ready to go to college, I started to realize all the things that you could do in life and uh, I was the first female agent that was on a squad in the FBI Newark office in 1981. “ 

She was a strong woman and I am so grateful I got to hear her roar. 

 

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1147470

Sorry Kevin

My 7th grade math teacher’s name was Mr. Curl. Wallace Curl. Math was not my favorite subject, but it just so happened this was the class I was in when one of the most embarrassing things in my life happened.

Junior high, or middle school as it is called these days, is where it happened. I was shy. I mean really shy. If a teacher called on me, I shrunk in my seat and turned several shades of red, like the phases of a ripening tomato. I hated it. I couldn’t help it. I’m not sure why I was so shy. Does anyone really know why they are shy?

I sat in the middle row. It was the old part of the building. It smelled like old books. I really liked that smell. It also smelled like old wood. The wood floor creaked as feet walked across it. The classroom had windows, so at least when I was daydreaming, I could look out the window. I recall our desks faced north and the windows were to the west.

Kevin Maskovich sat in front of me. He had broken his leg so he was on crutches. He was really nice to me and always took time to talk to me. For the life of me, I can’t remember anyone else who was in this particular math class with me. Tunnel vision and tunnel memory may be real. I do remember Mr. Curl standing at the front of the class with piece of chalk in hand, at the ready to scrawl the math problems on the board, beads of sweat running down his forehead. He had his suit coat hanging on the back of his chair and his shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. Heaven forbid I would have to get up and go to the board. That would be like pulling my fingernails off with a pair of pliers. Actually, pulling the fingernails off may have been better.

Everyone was tired. This class was right after lunch. We had hot ham and cheese sandwiches that day. I have never in my life eaten another one after this tragic day. It was hot in the classroom. There was no air conditioning in the school. I didn’t feel well. I was sweaty and nauseous. I was getting worried. I was afraid I was going to be sick. I didn’t have time to ask to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t stop it. It was like a lava volcano erupting up through my throat. I barfed. I puked. I hurled. I blew chunks. Oh God!!! What just happened? I wanted to die. I wanted to absolutely die! How could this happen? Idiot! Why didn’t I run to the bathroom? Why?????

I remember Kevin saying, “What was that??!!” Well, buddy, it was barf and I got some on you. Poor guy! I felt terrible. He did move his crutches out of the way pretty fast though.

Mr. Curl got the janitor. They brought in that disgusting smelling cat litter-type sawdust product to cover up the vomit. You know, that reddish brown stuff. Vomit powder. Supposedly this helped clean up the mess, once the product absorbed the liquid. GAWD!!! I still wanted to die. I just wanted to slither away. I wanted never to be seen again. I just wanted to go home.

I remember watching the janitor sweeping up the vomit. It almost made me vomit again. Someone came and got me and took me home. It was probably my mom. I was devastated. I was embarrassed and I just wanted to shrivel up into nothing.

The experience was traumatic. I had a hard time going back to school. I think it actually took almost two weeks for me to go back. Every time I thought about going to school I would become physically sick. It was hard. I know I wasn’t really sick, but I couldn’t go back. I just couldn’t. One day when I thought I was all better, dad gave me a ride on his way to work. We pulled up to the school and I told him I couldn’t get out. I told him I felt sick. He took me home. I would have to try another day.

I finally got my shit together. I knew I would have to go back at some point. I knew I would have to face my fears. I couldn’t be “sick” forever. My grades were going to go to crap if I didn’t get back. I forced myself to go. Even though it was the last place I wanted to be, I forced myself to go back. See, sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. It’s part of life. It’s part of growing up. It’s part of becoming a better human. So, I had to.

 

** As I was searching Kevin’s name, I realized that he passed away in 2010 from cancer. May he rest in peace. Sorry for puking on you, Kevin.

** Mr. Curl passed away in 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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? 

today

Today

August 16, 2018

It’s hard to watch

So many emotions

So many feelings

Friends coming over and saying goodbye

Talking about what to pack and what to take

The bittersweet march of time

Kids leaving for college

As another feels the grief of losing a child

Watching things happen

Clearing out a photography studio

What to pack and what to take

Another moving her son across the states 

Everything keeps going. Nothing stops

We have no control. We just do what we do

Friends to the end

Friends forever 

The goodbye tears

The goodbye smiles

The goodbye hugs

Everyone saying goodbye

Goodbye to friends. 

Goodbye to a baby

Goodbye to a great career and hello to a new town

Moving into the future

Living for today 

Looking out to tomorrow

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.