I know from experience that memories of childhood can differ greatly between mother and child. Case in point – my sister and I vividly recall being tethered to a tree during a tropical storm because we were driving the grown-ups crazy begging to go outside and play. I can still remember the wind whipping my clothes and the sting of the rain and salt water on my skin. My sister will describe in great detail the feeling that she would be blown away by the wind if she had let go of the rope or lost her footing. My mother vividly recalls the same storm; it came up with virtually no warning while we were at her godfather’s cabin on Gwynn’s Island in late summer. She can describe the mad rush to secure everything before it hit. She recalls how her parents and godparents discussed whether it would be better to sit tight or try to leave the island before deciding that it would be safer to ride out the storm. She remembers being trapped in a very small rustic river cabin with no TV, two kids under the age of eight, four other adults and a small hyperactive yippy dog, but she only recalls threatening to tie us to a tree if we didn’t quit pestering her.
That incident is only one of many other examples of the different point of view between my mother and myself with regard to my childhood. It does make me wonder, now that I have children of my own, how different will their memories be from mine?
Of one thing I am sure, at some point my kids will probably start referring to family outings or vacations as “the time when Mom [insert accident description].” I have an uncanny knack for accidents – usually of the “trip over my own feet and fall requiring a trip to the “doc in the box” or ER” variety. Sometimes it seems as though my signature fashion accessory should be either an ace bandage or a knee brace. The latest, and by far most spectacular, was over Mother’s Day. We decided to spend the day at the boat club with some friends. The plan was to de-winterize and clean the boat, then put the boat in the water and spend the rest of the afternoon fishing or swimming or just relaxing on the river, followed by grilling out for dinner. My kids were very excited and while de-winterizing a boat wasn’t really high on my initial list of things I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, their excitement carried me along until it seemed like it might be a fun sort of family activity. And it was, until just before we were ready to put the boat in the water.
During the fall, I had put together and published a Request for Quotation to have the marina dredged once the boating season ended. Together with some other club members, we formed a team, reviewed the quotes, selected a vendor to do the work, and then I stepped out of the picture. I hadn’t been back out to the club over the winter to see the work, so I was interested in climbing up to the top of the silt pond to look over the work. So up the berm I went and, as the old cliché goes, what went up – then came down.
One of the team members climbed up the berm with me and we walked around the edge of the pond looking at the work and the debris piles. I could see the kids were getting impatient to go out on the boat, so made my excuses and turned to climb down. With my first step, I slipped in the loose pebbles, dirt, shells, etc. and did what my oldest child described as sort of the splits (something I haven’t been able to do since somewhere around, oh, 1990 or thereabouts) then, as my youngest described it, “surfed” down the slope on my right shin until I landed in the gravel parking lot at the bottom and, as my husband described it, did something rather like a half roll half topple while uttering words he wasn’t entirely sure were appropriate for his ears much less our children’s. Everyone was rather amazed that I was able to pick myself up and limp to the truck, since all who witnessed my best impersonation of Jill, of Jack & Jill fame, were sure that I had broken something – if not several somethings.
“Mommy? Are you going to die?” asked my youngest. “Guess we aren’t going out on the boat now,” mumbled my oldest. “I think I have Purell in my first aid kit,” offered one of the other boaters who were now congregating around my bloody dirt covered self. A group that included my mother and stepfather who’d come down to meet us for a boat ride and had arrived in time to see my descent.
My husband chose that moment to come rushing up with the hose he’d been using to clean the hull of our boat and turned it on my leg, forgetting to remove or adjust the spray nozzle. I turned the air blue for the second time and seriously thought I might pass out from the pain. “Ohhhh, Mommy. Daddy is gonna wash your mouth out with soap,” replied my youngest. “Nice going Dad,” added the oldest. “Here’s the Purell!” called out the wanna-be-EMT. “No!” I screamed as I tried to move away from the hand holding the Purell above my leg. “Load her in the jeep, we can take her back to our house to clean her up,” sighed my stepdad with an aside of “try not to bleed on the upholstery” to me.
While I was getting medical attention, my husband did put the boat in the water. The kids and our guests were able to enjoy a relaxing time on the river, swimming & fishing, followed by dinner on the grill. Later in the week, I overheard one of my sons describing what they did for Mother’s Day – “It was nice. We bought her a plant and then my mom fell down a hill.”
Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.