My sister called me tonight to tell me she had a small moment today that will be unforgettable for the rest of her life. She thought of me and my blog and asked if I had some “unforgettable” moments. (She’s the one that I went skinny-dipping in my neighbor’s swimming pool at midnight a few years ago.) Some memories are good and some memories are bad. But mostly, they have shaped who I am. These are in chronological order.
1. A month before my 5th birthday, my sister Chrissy celebrated her first communion. We had the whole extended family at the church–cousins, aunts, and uncles. During mass we heard the sirens go off, and after church my dad took off without us, leaving us to catch rides with family. Upon reaching our house 11 miles south of town, we saw our entire house engulfed in flames. The image I remember the most was seeing Chrissy in her pristine white dress standing in front of me, looking at the house, and slowly turning around with a single tear streaming down her face with smoke billowing around the entire farm.
2. One lazy summer, Rhonda and I decided to see how many grapes we could fit in our mouths. We went one at a time, daring each other to reach for more. We got to where we couldn’t close our mouths, our faces permanently stuck in an open-mouthed smile. We looked ridiculous and began laughing at each other. Pretty soon we started drooling, unable to suck it back into our palates. Not wanting to waste good grapes, we started taking them out and putting them in our own bowls. We forced ourselves to eat warm, squishy grapes until we each swallowed 20 of the disgusting things each.
3 Rhonda and I played ball together being only two grades apart. We both started for our basketball team and decided one game to chest bump after we were announced for the line up. Our coach was not amused, but we definitely were!
4. After a ball game that we lost (there were plenty to choose from!) our coach was yelling at us that we allowed ourselves to lose, we had much more talent and heart that what we showed that night, and she expected more from all of us. One of our teammates started crying, because that’s what some girls do. Being the tough farm kids we were, Rhonda and I were slightly annoyed and Rhonda muttered, “Come on, be a man.” Chaos ensued, and in telling our dad later, he laughed out loud and said not all girls were made the same way we were.
5. In college, one of my basketball teammates “stole” a boy I liked at a party and I was upset. A few drinks later, I was ready to go home but suddenly demanded to go back to the party to confront my teammate, who happened to be one of my best friends. When I discovered she wasn’t there anymore, she had gone to breakfast, I proceeded to beat the holy crap out of her car, lovingly called the Thunderchicken. My friends who drove me (since I wasn’t capable of that task at the time) took me home and I woke up with deep regret. I apologized and later we learned that the guy I liked was discovered to practice the habit of talking to himself…and answering back. We quickly offered to each other the opportunity to pursue him.
6. That same friend developed Hodgkin’s disease and had to leave college early. Another friend and I visited her in western Colorado where we rode horses at her mountain home. The view was breathtaking and I clearly remember the heart ache I felt knowing the possibility it may be the last good memory I had with her. I was angry at God for taking away my best friend, yet hopeful that she could overcome. Fortunately she beat it and we shared many more memories after that.
7. While removing cattle from a pasture near Wilson Lake with my family, we prepared for an early morning so we wouldn’t have to work in the heat of the day. The morning was brisk, the fog was rising out of the valleys, and the sun was just rising. The beauty in front of me with the people I loved the most was the most spectacular feeling I’ve ever experienced. On top of a good horse, I was in the most perfect place in Kansas at that moment. Better yet, I wasn’t the only one who got to experience it.
8. When my daughter was born, I knew right away how smart she was. She looked deeply into my eyes and it spooked me. I knew I was in for a world of hurt as I imagined her out foxing her mother in years to come. I was not disappointed.
9. We went on a midnight ride horseback one night at my parents’ house. About 20 of us saddled up after twilight and rode to a neighboring pasture a couple of miles away. At first we couldn’t see anything, but soon the full moon came out and we saw old settlers’ rock piles with names from the 1800’s. One of the coolest nights I’ve experienced.
10. The moment I realized my college basketball coach was not a complete jerk-off, I knew I was an adult. I hated how much he yelled, how much he demanded of us. But now I know he pushed us to be our best, and had confidence in us to realize how good we could be. I know now that he is one adult I admire the most.
So that’s my top 10. All of these memories are like still photos in my mind, flashing occasionally in my daily life, reminding me that hey–it’s all good and it’s going to get better.