Every Life is a Story A place to
share my own family stories
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I just heard that the sixth grade class is going roller skating as a big graduation party at the end of the year. Roller Skating was really the big thing when I was in school, and there were skating parties all the time. The school had skating parties, church had skating parties, birthdays were all skating parties, and any other organization you were involved with would invariably have a skating party sometime in the course of your membership.
The only problem with this arrangement was that I couldn't skate.
I am able as an adult to acknowledge that I have been given a wealth of talents that have enriched my life, and that I have been grateful to have. Basic ability in any sport is not one of them. I do not throw balls well. Or catch them. Or bounce them. Or hit balls with other things such as rackets or bats. And while I can walk, please do not ask me to show off any running skills. Or jumping. Or doing all of that with wheels on my feet.
Skating parties for me meant pain. With the occasional pleasure of a root beer enjoyed with friends in between the pain. I was one of those poor pathetic people who hugged the wall all the way around, and lived in panic for the section at the end where there wasn't a wall to hold on to because the baby area was over there. The number of times I fell and bruised my bottom was astronomical. Everyone else seemed to be born on wheels. They would lace on their skates and take off, and I never saw them again, except as a blur as they passed me by again and again and again.
But skating was COOL, and everyone was doing it- a lot! And I really really wanted to be able to roller skate! So I practiced. I had skates at home I would put on and try out, and fall and bruise myself on the cement. I have pictures of me tying a pillow to my butt to somehow comfort the blow. It didn't help much. I went to every skating party and gave it my best shot. I would play games with myself to see how long I could go without falling or holding onto the wall. I would smile good naturedly at every humiliating tumble and keep trying.
I remember the day I got all the way around the ring without touching the wall once. I also remember learning how to take corners really fast. I never mastered turns or going backward, but after an awfully high learning curve for me, I could skate. And what happened? Skating stopped being popular, and the number of skating parties has dropped to hmm...this would be the first one in my girls' school career.
I guess my point is that while I knew I had no skill whatsoever in skating or any other physical activity. I wanted to do it, and I worked HARD at it, and I was able to get to the level I wanted to be!
Maybe I should go reintroduce myself to the round thing they call the ball.
This is NOT my final blog post, considering I've only just started blogging. However, I have been tagged to contribute to a Meme that says if you were to post your LAST blog post, what would it be? Some of my friends have had trouble with this one, but the purpose of this blog fits perfectly with the meme. If this were my last blog post ever, I know exactly what it would be.
I would, of course, tell a story.
My neighbor died a few years ago. She was carried away in an ambulance and died later in the hospital. I had been privileged to get to know her that last year, after 8 years of living there....another post on actually getting to know the people who live near you pending....and had been so impressed with her and what an amazing person she was. I was asked to play the organ at the funeral, and was honored to accept. I got frustrated at the funeral, however. There were so many people there, and everything was beautiful, but the talks given were all very....bland. There were sweet talks about the purpose of life, and about death and how it's just temporary, and there were some scriptures, and some nice platitudes, and there was nothing talking about my neighbor or her amazing life! I sat there behind the organ thinking, "Tell her story!" She was a living breathing person who loved and laughed and played and wept and raised children and had hobbies and I didn't want to hear bland assurances about death. I wanted to hear about how fabulous her life was. We were, after all, there to say goodbye to this wonderful lady, and pay tribute to the life she led.
A few years later, my grandfather died. He'd suffered from Alzheimers, and it had been a very traumatic experience to go through. My children, the last time we visited, had been afraid of him, and the strange things he'd do and say. I was surprised, then, when my youngest got very emotional over his death. She cried and cried and was inconsolable. I didn't know what to say or do, so I started to tell her stories about who he was. I told about the swing he'd built himself in the backyard for when his grandchildren would come over. I told about how he used to drive a bus, and how we used to go visit him at the bean cannery where he worked. I told about the fishing trips in his boat, and the time he put on a wig and tried to trick a toddler me into thinking he wasn't my grandpa. I told about the bad times when I was a snotty teenager and treated my grandparents very poorly. I talked and talked until finally, my daughter looked at me tearfully and said, "But I'll never know THAT grandfather!" and I replied, "Yes, you will. You DO. Every time you hear his stories, you get to know what kind of a person he was."
Life is made up of stories- little things that happen to us day by day that make our lives spectacular. The trick is paying attention to them when they happen to us, remembering them, and sharing them. What better way to celebrate life?
When I was in fifth grade, the school started testing students for scoliosis. Scoliosis is a curving of the spine, and apparently it was considered a big enough health problem to start regular testing to see if you had it. To prepare us for the next days test, the P.E. department showed a film explaining everything you needed to know about Scoliosis. It covered everything, including how bad it could get. They showed the spinal surgery for scoliosis, complete with view of the completely exposed bloody spine as doctors were working. It also showed young girls in complex back and body braces to try to straighten crooked spines. In short, it was a pretty graphic movie.
The next day, we all got in line in the girls dressing rooms, clasped our hands together and bent over so that the teachers could trace our spine with their fingers to see if it was straight or not. Then they would call out a yes or a no, check off our names on the clipboard, and move on to the next student. I was stunned when the teacher traced my spine and said, "Yes". Then she pulled me aside to have me tested again at the end. Still a yes! I had scoliosis! Images of back braces and bloody surgery filled my head as I made it through the rest of the school day, and walked home.
I walked into the house, and I remember seeing my mother come out of her bedroom with a big smile on her face, and her arms open for a hug- and I ran into her arms and burst out sobbing. Then my mother became my avenging angel- descending on the school with righteous anger over my terror. We got a doctor's opinion, and it was that I did not have scoliosis, or if I did, it was so minor it was almost impossible to differentiate from a normal spine. My mother spoke to teachers and school administrators about the movie and how inappropriate it was. She was my hero.
As it turns out, I do have scoliosis, and so do at least three other adults I know. It's a minor thing, and certainly nothing to be afraid of. But even so, I can remember how awful I felt that day, and my Mom's outstretched arms at the end of it.
It being Mother's Day this week, I thought about what stories I could tell about my mother. If I never post again, it's because I have been grounded.
My mother grew up on a farm in a home that had no indoor bathroom. She told us many times how whenever it rained, my grandfather would have to go get the tractor to bring the outhouse back because it had been washed away to a neighboring field.
Once, when my mother was a little girl, she was playing in the barn when she found a nest of mice among the bales of hay. Understandably, when mice were found it was a rule that they should be destroyed as the bane of a farmer's existence that they were. My mother, however, couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to the tiny little newborn mice, and decided to make them pets. She went and got a little plastic container to make a home for them, padding it with some hay, and left it in a safe place so that it wouldn't be discovered.
That night, it rained, and when my mother went back the next day- probably while my grandfather was off fetching the outhouse back- she found that rainwater had leaked into her safe place, and filled up the plastic container. All the baby mice had drowned.
This isn't quite a story, it's a personality quiz. I like this one, however, because of it's changeable nature. I am giving in to peer pressure- mostly because I think this is cool too. Here's my daemon from the Golden Compass movie website. You can thank The Rabid Paladin , Eeps Meeps and Ipes ,Paperclippings, and Tungsten Bathtub for this one: