“They” say that a child starts remembering things around the age of 6. But I disagree. I remember being terrified of being smothered under a blanket in a room with green shag carpet. I remember having to wear gloves to bed so I wouldn’t suck my fingers, and taking them off when I thought they weren’t looking (under the blankets, where I probably developed my claustrophobia and fear of blanket smothering). And I remember the sound of my daddy coming home from the pipeline.
When I was four, my dad worked for the oilfield, something to do with the pipeline. I was too young to remember exactly what that meant, but I do remember what that meant to me. That meant that he got home late, exhausted, dirty, smelly, and in the right mood to wake up his four year old to spoil her at wee hours of the morning over rootbeer floats, teaching her cribbage, and hugging her back to sleep on his chest to the sound of the tv.
He used to let me wear his hats, carry a toothpick in my teeth, and taught me the music of The Oak Ridge Boys (especially Elvira, because he nailed the base line!), and Styx, especially the extremely important piano introduction to his favorite Styx song, which I can STILL do by heart on my air piano. and still think it’s the longest song in history, especially if you get too loud in the car while it’s playing and mess him up and it has to start all over….
He quit the pipeline about a year later, and we moved from our green shagged carpeted home. It’s funny how back then all of my memories were sensory. The way the carpet looked, the smell that the skunks made from under the house, the cold; frozen rootbeer float mugs. And while I was cared for and adored by both my mom and dad (a blog soon to come about the pony my mom got me before we moved away from good ol’ Glendo! …and her ability to look the other direction when I made and swallowed actual mud pies. *twitch*), I remember the creative punishment that came from that house too, indirectly. Like how the dirt clung to it when I threw rocks at the neighbors horse trailer and had to wash it.
He’s still the strongest (less dirty and smelly, and now a leader for an amazing agency) man I know. And while I’ve grown up some, and we’ve graduated to the occasional stiff drink and cigar, we still do rootbeer floats quite well, my math skills sometimes outdo his in a game of Cribbage or Texas Hold’m.
Even on his worst days, he’s my hero, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
Memories sometimes, are your greatest strength. What are some of YOUR fondest?