Jason was the live wire in the family. He was my youngest and full of energy.
One day, when he was three years old and playing outside in the snow with his older siblings, they all came storming into the house. The older ones were complaining that Jason was knocking the snow house down that they were building. I sent the older two back outside and kept Jason inside. I told him he was being punished for what he did. Whereupon, he made my hand into a fist, threw himself on it and said, “Punch me then, so I can go back outside.”
That was the same year our family made a trip to Florida. We were spending a night in a motel. I put Jason in the shower and turned on the water. This was a new concept to him, as our house didn’t have a shower at that time. “Let me out!” he shouted. “It’s raining in here!”
My daughter, Shirley, had a lot of energy, too. When she was nine years old, she was a gymnast on a local team. She liked to play tricks on people, especially her brothers. One time, all three of them were sitting on separate chairs in the living room watching television, while I was three rooms away, fixing supper in the kitchen.
“Mom, Jason’s picking on us!” I heard her shout. I put down my kitchen utensils, hurried through all of the rooms to the living room, only to discover each child sitting peacefully on their favorite chair. Thinking that Jason was clever in causing mayhem and disguising it, I admonished him and returned to the kitchen.
I no sooner got back to the kitchen and back to work than I heard Shirley again cry out, “Mom, Jason’s picking on us!”
I rushed to the living room, hoping to be quick enough to catch him in the act this time. Alas, the scenario was the same as before.
I was becoming suspicious now. So, after admonishing Jason, once again, I stepped around the corner and hid. Lo and behold! All three children were sitting on their respective chairs, peacefully watching television, when Shirley called out, “Mom, Jason’s picking on us!”
I stepped around the corner and informed Shirley that maybe she would like to help me in the kitchen if she wasn’t happy watching television. The false accusations stopped and I was able to make supper in an efficient manner.
Fred was the oldest and the quiet one. He liked to be by himself. When he was three years old, I got him a toy lawn mower. He had seen his dad mow the yard many times, One warm, sunny day, after breakfast, he went outside with his toy mower and began to “mow.” He went in strips from one end of the front yard to the other, He “mowed” until I called him in for lunch and went right back out again. He came in for supper, went back outside and “mowed” until dark, but he never cut a blade of grass with his little mower. And, he never did it again.
The children and I had lots of moments together some good, some not so good. Some of them caused me much anguish.
However, when he grew up, Jason became a jack of all trades.He cooked at several restaurants, laid carpet, painted houses and, eventually, started his own construction company. He once said, as he was working for another contractor, “I didn’t know how easy it is to build a house.” And, one Mother’s Day, he gave me a little pin the shape of a rose, with a card that said, “If mothers were flowers, I’d pick you.”
Fred joined the U.S. Navy after he graduated from high school and served on a supply ship. One day, when the boiler system went down, he saved the ship from fire and destruction by rerouting the water system. And, one day, when his bud vase didn’t sell at his yard sale, he filled it with wild flowers he had picked and gave it to me.
Shirley is now business loan manager at a local bank and she and her daughter take me out for Mother’s Day every year. I think she still likes to play tricks on people.
The offspring and I have shared a lot as a family — much more than just DNA. I found out how important and valuable families are and I’m glad I had one.
(Dorothy Burchett is the author of the book “Miles and Miracles,” available at Pokeberry Exchange in New Castle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)