Kid Memories

Let’s Just Bang Pots and Pans!

While sipping my coffee and finishing up my egg white veggie omelette this morning, I decided to turn on the news. I rarely watch the news because I just can’t stand to give all the gloom and doom an audience, but since tomorrow marks the new year I figured I better see if I’d missed anything in 2014. I didn’t learn anything too disturbing or exciting really, but there was a story that irritated me slightly and made me nostalgic at the same time.

The report was about New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing horrible about the idea of committing to something that will possibly improve the quality of your life. I can get behind that. After all, I recently recognized ( alright, in all honesty, for the umpteenth time in my adult life) that it’s better for me to have a veggie egg white omelette than, let’s say, 6 strips of bacon. I don’t like knowing this, but it’s true. It didn’t bother me that the report was touting how important it was to make those pacts with oneself. What bothered me was that the focus of the story was on children.

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Kid Memories

The Day I Torched Mom’s Toyota Corona

My plush turtle with the music box buried deep in it’s stuffing filled abdomen was ruined. I had forgotten that it was even with me that day. I only remembered the cars. Now it lay in the front yard horribly bloated and singed. That soft seafoam green face with the goofy candy apple red grin was almost unrecognizable. Yet, I yearned to pick it up and twist the metal wing that protruded from it’s shell, hoping it would still play the sweet little melody that always comforted me, but, even at just 3 years of age, I knew better than to go near it or even ask about it. After all, I had just wreaked a whole laundry list of havoc, the least of which was that blackened, waterlogged toy.

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Mom's Brain

Where’s Bob? Where’s Your Dad?

“Where’s Bob?  Where’s your dad?” she asked over and over, never tiring or remembering.  “He’s at the beach” I’d reply with increasing impatience. It didn’t really matter where he was. This happened anytime Dad(Bob) was away from the house. Something pretty amazing, albeit simple, was born out of the irritation.  The dry erase board we used to keep track of therapy times and medication dosages transformed into the keeper of “all things Bob” and, eventually, answers of any kind. This slightly discolored, badly hung piece of plastic was magic. Recording the days answers became a new ritual.   “What do you want to know today Mom?  Let’s put it on the board.”  The anxiety and pressure dissipated almost immediately with this new way of communicating.

 

Mom: “Where’s Bob? Where’s your dad?”

Me:  “Look at your board Mom”

Mom:  “Oh. He’s at the beach”

Mom:  “When is lunch?”

Me:  “Look at your board Mom”

Mom:  “I already had lunch. Soup and a sandwich”

Mom:  “What kind of sandwich?”

Damn!  She got me this time.  Soon, though,  my reply wasn’t even needed. She was seeking out her own answer.  Remembering.  Remembering that the board existed. Remembering that the questions already had answers.  Remembering where Dad was.

 

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Kid Memories

The Night The Van Fell On Dad

For some reason I feel like it should have been winter. Maybe that feeling is because my 4 year old’s memory connects the bedspread with cold, but Dad and Uncle Larry were outside in the driveway of the house next to Leverich Park working on Dad’s van, so it must have been summer. Who would be outside working on a car in any other season but summer in the Pacific Northwest?

Uncle Larry wasn’t really my uncle. He was our next door neighbor. Larry was a machinist and had the the trade mark missing parts to prove it. He smelled like engine oil and cigarettes and I was fascinated with him. I loved watching him eat his dinner with the hand that had lost all it’s fingers while his perfectly intact left hand lay idle on the table. I’d secretly practice wedging my fork between my thumb and palm to see if I could muster even half the dexterity Larry had and manage to get any food in my mouth. I can’t think of any other guy my dad would have picked for the van repair project.

I don’t recall how my Mom and I came to be standing on the porch. Maybe we heard a crash as the jacks meant to keep things safe and elevated gave way, bringing the van down onto my Dad’s chest. Maybe we heard Larry screaming to call an ambulance after he had single-handedly lifted the van off Dad and pulled him from under it. Either way, we were there as Larry ran toward the house yelling “Give me something to cover him with until the ambulance gets here!”

My mom returned promptly with the bedspread that usually covered the bed she and Dad shared. It was a poly blend covered in big pink and red flowers. I was eye level to that blanket as Mom numbly clutched it in her left hand. When Larry grabbed it from her I wondered aloud “Won’t it get ruined?” My mom snapped “It doesn’t matter! Your father could die” and then she followed Larry out to the driveway. I didn’t cry at that news, the way she delivered it, or even about being alone on the porch. I stayed fixated on those flowers, watching them bounce up and down as Larry ran. Watching them become full again as the bedspread was stretched out over Dad. Even as another neighbor arrived on the porch and picked me up, I kept turning my head so as not to lose site of the them. The last thing I remember is watching those flowers disappear into the ambulance before it raced off toward the hospital.

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Kid Memories

The Day I Picked Iron Man and My Grandmas Died

Given that I can remember the details of December 26th, 1972 even though I was only 4 speaks loudly about how messed up that day was. As Aunt Norma put it recently, and with the best possible description that could be put to it, “That was the worst day”.

The tree looked a bit tired with only the already opened gifts strewn about beneath it’s branches, but the lights still made it feel like Christmas. “Go pick out the pajamas you want to wear tonight and then come sit on my lap” my Dad directed from the small wood framed chair, upholstered in a woolen mix of brown, black and orange checkers, and that sat against the south wall of the living room facing the front door. I was thrilled to zoom to the tree so I could choose from the two pair of footie pjs Santa had delivered that year. Each set was emblazoned with the respective logo and appropriate color scheme for the super hero they represented. I would be wearing the bright red and gold of Iron Man that night. No pink or other such girlie stuff for this kid. Mom was always a good sport about giving me what made me happy even if it tortured her to shop in the “boys” section.

Speaking of Mom, she was nowhere to be seen. Of course, I didn’t give that any thought then, but now it makes perfect sense.

With my package of pajamas crinkling and crunching as I held the plastic wrapped treasure tightly to my chest, I climbed into Dad’s lap, beaming with joy over my selection. “Look at me sweetie. I have something to tell you”. I craned my neck to look up into his eyes and could immediately see the sadness. “Your Grandma Pfau died this morning honey”. What he didn’t tell me was that a car had jumped the curb, mowed her down, and left her for dead on the sidewalk that had been her daily path to work at the church. “Why?” I half asked half cried. Before he could answer, we were interrupted by the knock. Dad stood with me in his arms, wiped his face, and carried me the few short steps to the front door. Standing on our porch was my dad’s brother Gordon and his wife Norma. “I have more bad news Bob” Gordy said with a face so pained I can call it up perfectly in my mind’s eye even 42 years later. “Mom died tonight”.

My Dad cried out and then set me down, still clutching my package of night clothes. I backed up and watched the 3 adults comfort each other. What they didn’t tell me was that she had been administered a dose of penicillin, lethal to her, ending abruptly and cruelly her winning campaign against pancreatic cancer.

Aunt Norma scooped me up and carried me to the family room in the back of the house. There was Mom, alone and grieving the loss of her Mother. Norma put me down and wrapped her arms around Mom, wedging me between their legs where I stood listening to their sobs and hugging my Iron Man pajamas.

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Flash Fiction

Friday Fictioneers – Stairs

Every Friday writers from near and far are challenged to create a 100 word fiction story from a photo prompt.  Get the details here to join in the fun Friday Fictioneers.

Copyright Bjorn Rudberg

Copyright Bjorn Rudberg

Up, up, up….That’s where she was headed.  Making it to this stage could hardly have been imagined all those years ago when she was a shy little girl with a mouth full of teeth that had an agenda of their own.  An overbite so severe that her lips struggled and stretched to contain it and canines so jagged she carried a built in prop for Halloween year round, they had conspired to keep her from this place.  Now at the podium, clutching that sparkling statue, she uttered the only words that made sense “I’d like to thank my orthodontist”.

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crochet
Uncategorized

Christmas Means Crochet

I got my “0-100mph” tendencies from my mom. I’m positive about that. When you find something you love to do, you do the shit out of it. That’s all. It doesn’t matter if anyone else likes to do it or if the end result is only beautiful to you. (Well, actually it does a tiny amount, but you don’t let on that you care and you just keep doing it.) Of course, softball is the most obvious example in my life of my doing something single mindedly for hours, days and years. I also had bouts of passion…err obsession…with bowling, juicing, photography, veganism, gardening, body building and classic car restoration just to name a few of the runners-up, but nothing could hold a candle to the dedication I gave to softball. Mom’s softball was crochet. She would sit for hours on end twisting and turning that hook over and under string with no need to even look at her work. She could crochet while watching television, while acting as the navigator on family road trips, while cheering through every sports season and while carrying on a conversation with the phone wedged between her ear and shoulder. There really seemed to be nothing out of her reach when it came to projects either. Pot holders, blankets, bucket hats bedazzled with the aluminum can logos of Pepsi or Coors, ordinary dish towels converted to dish towels that could be buttoned onto the refrigerator handle, vests and ponchos my sister and I begrudgingly wore to grade school, they were all in her repertoire and collection. Our house was her gallery of knotted string. Our bodies her mobile canvas. But the project that reminds me most about mom’s love of crochet and that compels me to write about it on Christmas day, are the ornaments.

She kept things simple so she could knock out massive quantities of those little wreaths and stockings. Solid Red or green for the wreaths with just a splash of sequin bling in the opposite color and the stockings woven with blended yarn that made its way along the color spectrum from white to either dark green or red. When she finally completed the last stitch, there were enough to cover every linear inch of the moulding that framed the ceilings in the living room, family room and hallways, and to adorn every branch of our 6 foot Christmas tree. Mom’s art was the focal point of our holiday decorating for as long as I can remember. Even today, her handmade ornaments live on, traveling safely in boxes and bins to whatever destinations my sister and I call home and making an appearance every Christmas, reminding us that Mom is still with us.

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