Although it seems like it has been more like nightly updates.
Just finished watching the Bama game with Chris. Boo! Not a big fan (and this is the.. second game? I’ve watched all year), but it was still a sad loss. Their fans care so much.
This night’s update about wraps up our stay in the garden home… or mine, at least. More to come!
Looking forward to your criticism and feedback,
“Bobby, Rose, turn off that TV!”
Mom flew into the living room, spraying on perfume while picking dad’s work shoes up from off of the floor. She left the room as quickly as she had entered it, and we heard banging noises coming from the bedroom. I walked up to our big, boxy 52 inch television to turn it off, and then I walked toward the bedroom.
“What’s wrong, mom?” I asked hesitantly. Mom was nervously picking clothes up from off of the floor and shoving them into drawers. “The pastor just called fifteen minutes ago.. the one from the church we went to a few weeks ago, remember? Anyways,” she continued, running back out into the hall and on into the kitchen, “he said that he “happened to be in the area” and wanted to drop by and see us. I told him that your dad wouldn’t be off work until seven, but he said that he had just picked his daughter up from a singing lesson and still wanted to swing by on his way home.” She slammed some dishes into our dish washing machine and closed it. I stood watching in the doorway as she ran her hand through her hair and sighed. “So,” she concluded with a little more control in her voice, “he should be here any minute. I need you and Bobby to get the living room tidied.. oh, and have Bobby change his shirt, Rose. He’s been wearing the same one for two days.” She flew out of the room again, calling back to me that she would be taking a five-minute shower, and that should the pastor knock on the door, I was to go ahead and let him in.
I blinked and thought about everything that she had just said. The pastor was coming over; who was that? And he was bringing his daughter with him… a girl. How old had mom said she was? Or mom didn’t know? I shrugged and ran into the living room, inspired by mom’s excitement and anxiousness to move quickly myself. “Bob, mom says we have to change into some nicer clothes, the PASTOR is going to be here soon!”
Bob had turned the television back on while I was gone and had connected the video game system up to it. “Can’t right now,” he announced simply.
“No Bob, you HAVE to,” I cried. “Mom said. And the pastor is s’posed to be here ANY MINUTE!” I must have said it in a very emphatic, convincing sort of way, because Bobby relinquished. We put the video game system away as fast as we could and ran into our bedroom to change. We must have taken longer than we estimated, because by the time we came out, mom was standing at the front of the living room, her hands folded together nicely, smiling at a man and little girl who were sitting on the couch.
“Bobby, Rose,” she said sweetly, “I’d like for you to meet Pastor Stephen!”
Bobby and I fell in line beside mom and smiled. I waved my hand a little and Bobby just kept smiling.
“Well,” the pastor stood, “it is so good to see you again!” He walked over to shake our hands and he also put his arm on Bobby’s shoulder to give it a squeeze.
Again? I thought to myself.
“Mhm,” I smiled again. Bobby was still smiling.
We all stood there quietly for a minute, and then the pastor continued speaking.
“So, your mom says your dad’s at work, huh?”
“Yep,” Bobby nodded.
“He works at Publix, and he’s a manager,” I added.
“Bakery manager,” my mom clarified.
“That’s wonderful.” The pastor smiled again.
“Hey mom,” I pointed, “dad’s cigarettes are laying on the floor.”
My mom looked at me for a second. Her face had turned red immediately and her lips had set into a straight line. She apologized and walked over towards the wall, where a half-pack of cigarettes were sticking out from underneath the couch. “Oh,” the pastor cut in quickly, “you kids haven’t met Abby yet! It’s actually Abigail,” he interrupted himself, “but we all call her Abby. She’s my little girl. Come say hi, Abby!” He gestured her over towards us and stepped aside, putting the three of us in this weird, triangular-shaped bubble. We all smiled at each other and then looked up awkwardly at our parents. My mom had returned to where she had been standing and wore a painful smile on her face. The pastor still had on the complacent smile he had entered the house with.
‘Well I have an idea,” the pastor announced suddenly, clapping his hands together. “How about you kids head outside to play and let us adults talk in here for a little bit?” He tilted his head questioningly at my mom, who nodded fiercely in agreement.
“That sounds like a great idea,” she raved, and she immediately bent over to look at Bobby.
“Now if you aren’t feeling well,” she began in a whisper, and he immediately shook his head yes.
“Okay,” she nodded understandingly, “you can just go play in your room and Rosie can go outside with Abby.”
So it was settled. Abby and I were kicked out of the house and Bobby retreated to the playroom by himself. Once outside, Abby and I removed ourselves to the back of the yard, talking about television shows we both liked and other things we had in common.
“Have you started school yet?” Abby questioned.
“No, I am soon though. Have you?”
“Oh of course, I’m in the first grade.” It was then that I noticed that she was a little taller than I was. I also realized then that she acted and seemed more grown up than me. I was impressed.
I remember, in the short amount of time that we spent together and for some odd reason, us talking about cuss words; I’m not sure exactly how the subject came up, but we shared the ones we knew and talked about how furious our parents would be if we ever said them out loud. I also remember us playing some kind of game; it could have been hide and seek, or it might have been rock, paper scissors. Who knows. But the rest of the story is one that my family tells better than I am able to.
At some point in the afternoon, Abby ran across the yard and busted into the house, crying.
“I just can’t play with her anymore! She’s too bossy!” She sat on her dad’s lap and cried while I, who had come running into the house behind her, stood in the doorway, wide-eyed. I looked over at my mom; she appeared to be stunned.
The pastor still came to visit us a few times after “the incident,” but his daughter was never with him. My mother says that she has never been so mortified.
The rest of our stay in the garden home was brief and fairly uneventful. Days passed happy and quietly. I was blowing bubbles in the house one day, using a purple container and wand, and I somehow confused breathing in with breathing out: the bubble mix dripped into my mouth and I spent the next two hours crying, hiccupping, belching bubbles and complaining of an upset tummy.
I was outside playing with neighborhood kids one afternoon and got a sand spur stuck in my foot (back in the 90s, kids played outside barefoot). I hopped and hobbled home, tears streaming down my face, and as soon as I made it into the house my mom sat me down on the kitchen floor. “It’ll be okay, sweetie,” she soothed me. “I’m going to pull this out for you, okay? No no, don’t cry,” she looked down at me sympathetically. “I’m going to pull it out on the count of three, okay? It’ll happen so fast you won’t believe it. I’m going to begin counting now. One..” and poof, it was gone. My mom pulled it out on one, and I’ve never forgotten it. I was so amazed that I forgot to be upset about the pain: the sand spur had been removed, and I had an insight as to how wise and clever my mom was. I’ve always appreciated her doing that.
I started kindergarten one fall morning and it was the best day of my life. I loved having a teacher, friends, and a constant, predictable routine. I was proud of my stars, my paintings and my Rugrats themed lunchbox. There is one particular memory that stands out in my mind and it’s the kind of incident that’s completely devastating when you’re a child but totally understandable once you’ve grown up into being an adult.
I got up for school one morning and started dressing myself. I picked out a Lion King t-shirt and a red pair of shorts with my pink pair of sneakers. It was wonderful being in Kindergarten during the 90s: you dressed yourself, you were happy with what you wore, and no one made comments. Clothing and fashion weren’t the big deal they are today.
After I had completely readied myself, I walked into the kitchen to grab my lunchbox (which was usually prepared by mom and sitting on the counter, waiting for me). The lunchbox wasn’t there. Neither was mom. My heart started beating quickly.
“Mommm!” I called, running down the hallway and stopping at her bedroom. “Mom?” I said a little more softly, tapping on the bedroom door.
“What Rose?” I could tell that her voice was groggy and my heart sank as I opened the door and saw her, lying in bed, her pajamas on and the blinds still closed.
“Mom I am ready for school!” I said hopefully. “I don’t even need to bring my lunch today. It’s okay that you forgot.”
She leaned over to look at her alarm clock and sighed.
“I’m sorry Rose,” she sighed, “I didn’t sleep well last night and must have slept through the alarm this morning. Just don’t worry about going to school today, I’ll write a note.”
She laid her head back on the pillow and closed her eyes.
Tears started welling up in my eyes. “No mom, please, you don’t understand, we were supposed to have a party today! The teacher said we would watch a movie and eat snacks and do other fun stuff, I really need to be there!”
“I’m sorry Rose, we aren’t going to be able to make it today.”
I cried, letting my backpack fall to the floor. “But I really wanted to be there.”
Meanwhile, Bobby, quiet in the background, had been getting worse. His balance was off, his headaches were stronger and coming on more frequently, and he wasn’t acting like himself: instead of wanting to play Lion King on the Sega after school, he wanted to nap. Rather than getting excited when mom decided that we’d be ordering a pizza for dinner, he seemed indifferent. So mom and dad finally made an appointment with a doctor in town. Now it was only a matter of time.