My Life Monday

My Most Memorable Childhood Experience

I had a very busy childhood, much of it is a blur unless I sit and really ponder my experiences. I actually had difficulty with this topic, since many things are memorable, if I really sit and think about them, but nothing really jumps out at me as the "most memerable". In fact, on the surface, in every day life and thought, I rarely have memories of my childhood. It's like they are so jam-packed in my brain, that they have been filed away in hundreds of files, to be left there until I take the time to really try and remember - then the file gets pulled up, and I can remember so much. It just takes a lot of thought.

The event that keeps jumping out at me is the summer of my 9th birthday. My family lived in Texas at the time, and we'd gone to visit my grandparents for the summer in Utah. They had a wonderful home in Kaysville, with a huge yard, complete with a large garden, and full fruit trees. The neighbor's had a trampoline we'd jump on, and the street was a quiet cul-de-sac, perfect for riding bikes, rollerblading, and pogo-sticks. There were many families in the area, which meant instand friends. It was 1989, and there were just three of us siblings then - my little brothers and I. J was four and Z was two-and-a-half.

That summer, we picked tomatoes, apples, peaches, pears, tons of corn, strawberries, and grapes from grandpa's garden. Then, in the kitchen, grandma and my mom were canning. I loved being in the yard with grandpa though. His garden was is tidy rows, and he taught me how to step carefully through the rows of fruit, veggies and corn. The corn was taller than me that summer, and I loved the idea of hiding in the corn-rows, though I don't remember if I ever did.

We were at my grandparent's home for my 9th birthday that year. I'd been counting down for days, and woke up very excited. As I walked around the house, I expected "Happy birthday", or "how's our birthday girl?", or "pancake, birthday girl?" or even just whipped cream on my canned pears instead of milk. Instead, I got nothing! Just a normal "good morning". I was quite annoyed that they had so blatently forgotten my VERY important day, so I walked through the house singing under my breath "happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear me-ee-ee, happy birthday to me". I must have been a pitiful sight, but my subliminal messaging was lost on my family.

The only one who seemed to remember was my dad, who was spending the summer back in Texas working. Midway throught the morning, there was a knock on the door, a special delivery person looking for ME! My dad sent me a bunch of balloons, with a stuffed white kitten holding the balloons down. I promptly named her "snowball", and thought to myself "well, at least my dad really loves me enough to remember my birthday." I always remembered that, when I was mad at my dad in the teen years - I still snuggled with snowball, and how he'd remembered my special day, so he wasn't all bad like I made him out to be as a rebelious teen.

Just before lunch, my grandpa asked me if I'd like to come with him to the store to pick up some orange juice. I was still a bit annoyed, and there was orange juice in the freezer, but figured that since grandpa was diabetic, he probably always wanted lots of OJ on hand. So, out we set in grandpa's big tan truck. We stopped by a small grocery store, then grandpa said "I want to show you something!", and turned the truck away from home. We drove by acres and acres of fields, and after a good while of grandpa telling me stories, we stopped, and grandpa said "look at those horses! Aren't they pretty? That's what I wanted to show you". Then he turned the turck around, and we drove through the rural roads to get home. We were gone about an hour and a half ... to get orange juice. It was okay though, because I did adore my grandpa, and could spend any amount of time listening to his stories of cold winters in Canada.

When we walked into the house, I was in a bummer of a mood. Total self-pity. I opened the door, and standing there were all my friends, cousins, and other grandparents, including my Grandma Rogers, who passed away the next year. They all yelled "suprise!", and I started to cry. I don't know if they scared me, or if I was just so relieved that my birthday hadn't been forgotten - that I was actually loved. It was a wonderful party. My cousin Jennifer was there, and so excited. She's the only one I can really picture besides my grandparents. (sadly, she hasn't spoken to me in a few years ... and I've never quite figured out why). I just remember being so happy that day, and having a grand time.

That summer, we were less than excited to leave. But we loaded up the suburban, and said goodbye, and drove off. It was a long drive back to Texas. My brother J was in his car seat up front with my mom, and Z was in his car seat next to me. A couple hours into our drive, I slipped off my seat belt to get more comfortable in my nap, curling up against Z's carseat. I didn't know what was happening, but up front, my mom was having a difficult time staying awake. J says he remembers it all, but he was just 4. My mom fell asleep at the wheel (it was mid-day), and she began swerving on the road. A driver behind us (the only other car on the raod), started honking his horn, and as my mom jolted awake, she jerked the wheel, but it was too late - the suburban rolled of an embankment, and continued rolling down a hill until we stopped upright in the middle of someone's field. That suburban rolled 3 times, then stopped on it's wheels, with the radio still singing.

All I remember was waking up somewhere mid air. I felt confused seeing things tumbling, and someone yelled "get down!" (no one in the car yelled it, I just heard it, and I know God was watching over me). I didn't have my seat belt on, but I ducked my head, and hung on, just as a box full of jarred tomatoes flew where my head had been, shattering against the seat-back in front of me.

We were shaken, and just sat there. Within seconds, the other driver had stopped, and two women came running towards us from a small house across the field. The got to the car, and pulled the doors open to help us. Then one went and booked it back to the house, called 911, and grabbed a bunch of wet washcloths. We didn't realise what they saw, but we were all covered in the canned tomatoes, and canned tomato sauces from the jars that had shattered. Apparently it looked to them like we were covered in blood, and we really terrified them. They started using the washcloths gently, then realised there were no scrapes, cuts, or anything on anyone, except me - I had a place on the side of my ankle where I had been cut pretty well (I got 12 stitches, and still have a noticable scar. The paramedics took us to the hospital, where I learned the sad news - I wasn't even going to get crutches! I was so disapointed - what's the point of getting stitches on your foot if you don't get crutches to show it off?!

I remember the moment I realised our car was totalled. My mom said that it was being taken to the dump, and I panicked! I hadn't been able to grab "Snowball" after the accident, and I was heartbroken. Luckly, we needed more than Snowball from the car ... so I was reuinited with her.

I still have Snowball. Her fluffy fur is completely matted from snuggles and multipule trips in the washing machine, and her filling is rather clumped, but whenever I stumble across her in my keepsake boxes, I always remember the summer I turned nine, and smile.


Rachelle said...

Wow! What a story! Thanks for participating!

Kristen said...

That's a pretty amazing story, and I would say pretty memorable.

I'm glad you were all safe after the accident, and snowball was retrieved!!

Diana - Teacher Mom said...

That's unbelievable! Thank God no one was severely hurt. That's definitely an unforgettable story!