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Archive for the ‘grade school’ Category

There is always something that sticks with children, even long after they are grown, that was taught by their parents. For me, that’s crocheting. My mom would sit for hours curled up under a blanket watching a movie with me crocheting yet another afghan or blanket. The rose colored yarn mixed with white yarn intertwined with pastel soft green to create a heavy double crocheted blanket. She used her long knobby fingers to move the crochet hooks in and out of the yarn, looping two or three loops on the end and then pulling it through. Loop, loop, pull, loop, loop, pull, for hours.

After awhile, I wanted in on the fun and towards the end of my elementary school years I decided I wanted to learn. I sat right beside her on the couch as she showed me how to loop the yarn in between my pointer finger and middle finger and then around my pinky on my left hand as I held the crochet hook and looped the yarn around my pinky finger on my right hand. I pushed, I pulled, I looped, I pulled some more, but my blanket had bulging spots where the yarn stacked up too high because of too many loops; or it had a large hole where I had too much slack on the yarn. Regardless, it was my first blanket I double crocheted with my mom and it was beautiful.

After that I got pretty good at making small, very small blankets for my cat. In reality they were the size of pot holders and were demoted from cat blanket to shag carpet for my doll house. In the meantime, my mom made me a large white blanket with rose colored doily trim that framed a small pastel green basket in the middle. Rose colored flowers with white centers dotted the blanket, the petals sticking up giving the blanket great texture. The basket was crocheted and then tacked on standing out amongst the flowers. To show off her great talents she also made me a matching doll blanket and pillow for my doll cradle. I still have the large blanket and use it when reading a good book. It’s heavy and surprisingly soft, which tells me my mom only used the good yarn. My step-daughter now has the doll blanket and pillow. It looks as if it were made yesterday despite the use it has gotten out of it in the last 18 years.

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My mom’s closest sister, well her only “blood” sibling, the rest of her 9 siblings are half or adopted, lives in Texas with her husband, and three daughters.

I haven’t been to Texas in 10 years. I was 16 the last time I went. I’ve only gone to Texas four times in my life. Since my mom’s passing, five months ago tomorrow, I have been planning a trip to Texas so my husband and 10-year-old step-daughter can make memories down south like I did. I want them to know some of my mom’s favorite people in Texas. As I plan this trip for my family in June, it has unleashed my memories of Texas with my mom.

My most memorable trip to Texas was when I was 10 years old and I got to see the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. I was more than excited to see an ocean; living in the heart of the United States hadn’t given me much of an opportunity to see an ocean. Being fair skinned, freckled, and a redhead, I was doomed before we even got there.

Mom, my step-dad, two of my cousins, and me headed for an island called Port Aransas. After a three hour drive, we were there. Before we even got to the ocean, I could smell salt in the air and see sand on the side of the road where dirt and grass should be. The land became flat and I could make out the curve of the Earth in the distance. It was breath taking.

As we got to the ocean, we had to ride up on a ferry to take us to the island of Port Aransas. The island was very small and housed businesses, restaurants, and the beach; that’s it. We parked our car right on the beach, set up chairs, lathered up with sun block, fed a flock of sea gulls, and ran for the ocean. I splashed around in the salty water for four hours before I finally came to shore.

Something happens when you are out in the water. I kept drifting to the left and even though the water was still only waste high, mom and the car seemed so far away. I never got nervous, nor did I pay much attention to the creatures swimming around me.

A middle aged gentleman with leathery brown skin and a gray beard waded past me with a large fishing pole. I had been fishing more times than I could count with my dad and never had I seen such a thick pole with a strange bulky reel and thick fishing line that I could actually see from far away.

As he waded by, I asked him, “What are you fishing for?”

“Shark,” was all he said as he kept wading forward.

Alarm bells never went off.

When I finally found my way to shore, the fisherman was talking to my family. When I arrived, they opened up the circle and revealed a baby shark. He had already cleaned it, but I was able to touch its smooth silky skin that had the toughness of leather. It still didn’t shock me, until I got older.

I swam next to a fisherman fishing for sharks; not just any sharks, baby sharks; wrong on so many levels.

We packed up and headed inland for dinner and shopping. We each got a t-shirt and ate seafood on a large covered dock. I noticed that my skin felt tight on my face, shoulders, and back. The sand inside my swimsuit was scratching and irritating me.

Upon further examination, my mom screamed out, “Oh look at my poor baby! You are so burned!”

I was accustomed to sunburns; being a fair skinned, freckled redhead, but never had I experienced sunburn like that. After we looked for sand dollars and watched the tide shift as the sun set, we headed home. It was the longest car ride of my life. I shivered and shook from the air conditioner blowing on my red hot skin. I ran my fingers gently over my shoulders and felt squishy firm lumps; blisters the size of dimes. I ran my fingers over my nose; more blisters. My cheeks, forehead, ears, back of my neck; even more blisters. I was miserable.

As soon as we got back to town, my step-dad and mom stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up sunburn creams and lotions. My two cousins and I waited in the back seat, in the dark, all alone. As we were drifting in and out of sleep, we heard a crinkling sound coming from the plastic bags of shells shoved in the back window.

“Did y’all hear that?” One of my cousins asked.

“Yes.” I whispered holding my breath trying to hear it again.

“There it is again!” My other cousin screamed as we heard the crinkling again. This time it lasted longer.

I took my hand and smashed the bag of shells over and over until my cousins screamed, “STOP!” Apparently they had failed to check the shells for crabs and they were crawling around like mad in the plastic bags.

That night I was covered in cold creams that only made me shiver more. We crashed fairly early and slept all night, and all the next day until sun set. We ate dinner, and went right back to bed; sun poisoning. We left the next day for a 13 hour trip home. It surpassed the trip from the ocean as the worst trip, it was more miserable than that. I was uncomfortable from the seat rubbing my Port Aransas t-shirt on my blistered back; the seatbelt irritated my burned neck and shoulder. I was so embarrassed by my blistered red face that I would even cry as we walked around gas stations, fearing everyone was looking at me and laughing. I had nightmares during the trip that my blisters were popping open and my shirt was soaked. When I awoke in a scream, my shirt was soaked; from sweat.

We did make it home and when my dad saw me, he was furious. He kept screaming at my mom, “She has third degree burns!”

Whether I did or not, it still was the best memory of Texas I had with my mom. It was my first ocean experience when I was too young to fear the vast waters and all the creatures in it. The next time I go to the ocean, I won’t enjoy it as much, because I will be mindful of the creatures living within its depths and fear them; I know too much.

We have planned a trip to Port Aransas with my aunt and cousins. I can’t wait to make new memories with my husband and step-daughter the way I made memories with mom. We will skip the sunburn and blisters part, but have fun non-the-less. Memories are memories, no matter how painful, literally painful they are.

To this day, I have very large freckles that outline where my swimsuit was when I was 10 years old. The freckles on my shoulders are just as big; I freckle more now on my face than I did before my trip to Texas. Permanent skin damage you ask? Most likely.

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As I gulp down my Dr. Pepper for the day, only pausing long enough to belch out sounds that are very un-lady-like, I think of my mom. We were never lady-like and found it hilarious to be un-lady-like. Many days have been spent, sitting together, drinking our favorite beverages, smoking cigarettes, gabbing about relationships.

That thought made me realize how much I miss having conversations with her. We always talked about relationships; relationships with our spouses, best-friends, family, pets, plants, food; any relationship.

When I was young, probably fifth grade, I decided I knew all there was about making babies. After skimming some encyclopedias on the matter, picking out what words I did know, and piecing together what I had sort of figured out from the world around me; I honestly thought I knew all there was to know about making babies.

While riding around with my mom one cold, gray day in winter, I told her that I knew all there was to know about making babies.

“You don’t really know everything. Do you know about the sperm?”

“No, but I know they have sex!” I yelled back, furious that she was questioning me and slightly embarrassed that I really did not know everything there was to know about making babies. I was so sure I knew it all.

I started to cry a little bit and mom could tell that a mommy moment had arrived, so she pulled the car over right in front of some stranger’s house. As she pulled to a screeching halt, she began to tell me everything about making babies, which was way more than I had ever expected. My eyes were huge; my cheeks were burning red with embarrassment, my mouth agape with intrigue. My stomach was burning with nervousness as she demonstrated with her fingers how the sperm enters the egg. Mom described the details with knowledge and passion that only fueled my curiosity on the subject matter even more.

From that point on, I always felt comfortable talking to mom about sex, boys, and relationships. Conversations on relationships were repeated a thousand times throughout the rest of our lives together, and honestly, they were my favorite ones to have with her.

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