Maybe its because I'm overly hormonal, or maybe its because I'm craving root beer floats like they are going out of style (personally, I blame the root beer floats) but I have been thinking a lot lately about my childhood. I have been thinking a lot about the people who made me who I am today and the crazy experiences along the way.
I know the first question that comes to your mind: "Why are you blaming root beer floats?" Well darlings, root beer floats are connected to basically every major, big, fun family event I ever experienced growing up. They were a Winberg household institution!
I've also been thinking a lot about my dad.
My dad died when I was twelve. I don't really have any bad memories of him. This is a good thing. I like to focus on all the fun we had together. I remember how he would come home from work, start dinner and then come sit on the couch to watch General Hospital (yes, my mom was forced to tape it for him religiously EVERY DAY! He was totally addicted to it!) I would lie on his chest on the couch and listen to his heart beat. I would listen to his stomach make funny noises because he was hungry for dinner. I felt safe. I felt warm. I felt loved. He never had to say or do anything, just let me lay my head on his chest and bask in the glory of being close to him. He never pushed me away. I'm so grateful for that. He didn't say he loved us very often, be we ALWAYS felt it. I don't ever remember feeling like a nuisance or a pest.
I remember daily life in our house. I remember that the only time the television was really on was for General Hospital time for dad, and for TGIF on Friday nights on ABC. We'd sit as a family and watch Full House and Family Matters, and as the line up changed, we just kept watching. It was tradition. We stayed together and enjoyed a little break from the real world.
I remember pulling out all of my mom's Carpenters records. We would make up lip synch routines and dance and sing for her. Because we always forced my poor brother to play the postman when we used the song Mr. Postman, we let him have his way and use a Ray Stevens song The Streak...we'd all laugh hysterically as Aaron ran back and forth in the living room and made up crazy dance moves using his mad skills on the fly.
I remember getting into trouble with my brother. We were best friends. We still are. I miss him and wish he wasn't so far away, but I still have a connection with him that has yet to be explained. Aaron and I had a special knack for trouble. There was one time that we used our impressive dare devil skills to crawl on top of the fridge and get out my mom's good silverware. We then proceeded to pretend we were pirates. We spent the better part of a lazy summer day making a map and burying her silverware in the backyard. We then got side tracked in a neighborhood water fight and forgot about the silverware and, unfortunately, the maps. Since the silverware only came out for Thanksgiving, our little escapade wasn't noticed until November. Mom was gobsmacked when she couldn't find her silverware. Aaron and I kept our mouths shut, but finally saw how sad she was about it, so we confessed. Mom was furious...the maps were long gone, as was her wedding silverware. That spring, as we planted tulips (a yearly occasion) my mom managed to find a small cache of silverware in the flower bed. She washed it, but as it was only about 4 spoons, I think she gave up and realized that kids will be kids and laughed it off.
Aaron and I also took all the bed linens in the house, tied them together and tried to crawl out the second story window of our suburban house...mom managed to find us right as Aaron was headed out the window...curses...our plan was foiled (but likely for the best).
I remember my dad's love of animals. My mom loves animals too, don't get me wrong. But I remember how we got our first dog (or atleast the first dog we had that I remember. Apparently from the time I was born until I was about 2 we had an Australian shepherd. I don't remember him). My dad had been at a friend's house for a football party. He came home with Lokie on a leash. Dad told us that he had seen his friends being not so nice to Lokie (we found out later that my dad had witnessed him being abused) it didn't sit well with dad. He wrote out a check on the spot and said that if he was such a nuisance for them, that he would bring him home to us where he would be taken care of. It took a long time for Lokie to warm up to us. Mom worked a lot with him while dad was at work. He was very skiddish because of the way he'd been treated by his old masters. Dad had had Shelties growing up and had bred them and decided that he wanted to do it again. He decided it would teach us some responsibility and that it could bring a little extra money into the house.
Then came Buttercup. Dad got her for mom for her birthday and mothers day. She was so tiny. Mom loved her. A few years later, we found Lokie and Buttercup in the backyard hooked together...mom explained that Buttercup would have puppies in a few months. We were excited but abashed! Buttercup and Lokie weren't married! GASP! Mom knew just what to do. We had a little doggy wedding ceremony in our backyard.
While we were waiting for puppies, we ended up getting another dog, another Sheltie. Her name was Penny. Dad had a friend at work who couldn't take care of her anymore. It seemed like we were starting a Sheltie rescue in our house. Penny was blind and going deaf, she was 14 years old. I took her under my wing. Penny became MY dog. I remember dad being worried that I had gotten so attached to her, but I didn't see the problem. She couldn't crawl up the steps of our deck to get food, so three times a day (morning, after school, and evening) I would take a bowl of food and water down to her and point her snout towards it so she could smell it and eat it. We had a special relationship. The other dogs weren't very cuddly, but Penny would come and lay her head in my lap. She loved me and I loved her. Even though a vet gave us the news that she was completely blind and deaf, I wouldn't believe it- she always seemed to know when I was coming, and if I called her she always came running. Finally, one day Penny came running when I called her and ran straight into the swing set. Dad happened to see. I ran to her, tears soaking my cheeks, and pulled her into my lap. She gave me kisses and snuggled up to me. Dad came running and said, "She's blind Britt, I think we need to take her to the vet again." I tried to reassure him that I could nurse her and that she was fine, but he persisted and a few days later we went to the vet. Dad wouldn't let me come in with him. Mom and I sat in the car. About 20 minutes later dad came out with Penny's leash and collar and told me that the vet had helped him send Penny to heaven...I think this is the only memory I have of my dad where I ever felt betrayed. I told him I hated him. I cried the whole way home and for the rest of the week.
Buttercup finally had her puppies, but my wound was too fresh. I didn't care. The puppies weren't Penny. I remember going out to the backyard and sitting on the deck. I started to cry for the millionth time, and Lokie came up to me. He stood in front of me, caulking his head to the side, then he moved and sat next to me. He then proceeded to lay his snout on my lap like Penny used to. It was like he was telling me it was all going to be okay, and that he'd be my dog now.
I forgave dad, of course, he told me that Penny had been hitting her head a lot lately and that it wasn't fair to keep her alive. That is was selfish. In my 5 years of life at that point, it was the first time I learned a true lesson about being selfish. It wasn't fair or nice of me to want to keep Penny alive just so I could be happy if she was sick and not going to get better. I had to let go. Dad always had a good way of explaining things so that they made sense to my young developing mind.
I remember dad and Football! BYU and 49ers football was another religion in our house. My dad would go get giant sandwhiches at this sub shop called the Wizard. Grandpa and uncle Jeff would come over and we would watch football ALL DAY LONG! Just to give dad a hard time Amber and I would root for the other team every once in a while, but it just kept things interesting. Our hearts never strayed from the cougars or the niners!
I guess, I just overall remember how much love we had. Even when times were tough, we had eachother. We loved eachother, and there was always a friend to reach out to or play with.
Well, I'm sure darlings that you've had about enough of my novel...and I need to go pack for a short trip to Idaho Falls this week.
The moral is darlings, no matter how disfunctional your family was growing up, its likely that you have just as many fun and glorious stories to share. If you are a parent, think back to your childhood...do you honestly remember the toys your parents could buy or the things that you had? I don't, I remember the love. I remember the time we spent as a family. Time is the most precious gift you can give to your family. How much of your time do you share with them? Things come and go, you can't take them with you, but you can take the love and the memories you share.
Hugs and loves until next time.