In my long lifetime I’ve been through many life changing events. An early one I recall was missing the school bus at age 6. I remember running after it yelling, but it went on without me. I don’t think I’ve been late to anything since then.
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Out the door, on the bike, and gone. Go anywhere in 5 minutes and be back home before my mom knew I wasn’t there. But it didn’t matter where I was, because the town was so small the whole place was my own personal backyard. Now when I leave my doorstep and close the door on my family I walk into a crowded world where . . .
Write something. You. Yes, you.
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When I was a kid there was a DJ on the La Junta, Colorado radio station everyone listened to. He would greet us many days by announcing that it was a bright, sunny day. That was the phrase he always used. I thought it was kind of funny that he used the same phrase so often, but looking back on that old memory I finally appreciate his cheerfulness and encouragement. Let’s have a good day today. After all, it’s a bright, sunny day.
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Where I grew up most of the freight trains came carrying sugar beets. Open topped cars filled to almost overflowing with big white beets. When the sugar factory on the north side of town was operating, the stink filled the whole town. But like the cattle feed lots that joined in the stink, nobody complained about ‘the smell of money.’
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My grandmother didn’t curse. When really frustrated she would spell out S-H-I-T. Maybe she cursed when I wasn’t around. But her son, my father, couldn’t get through a sentence without some sort of curse word. He used to brag that he talked like a drunken sailor. He never said a goddam thing that didn’t need a strong curse. And me, what position do I take on cursing?
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As a kid I loved shooting rubber bands and spit balls at people. I thought it was funny to tell other kids they had spiders in their hair. I liked calling random people on the phone and asking if the refrigerator was running. That goofy sense of humor went away. Or maybe it turned into a love of puns, obscure literary references, and strange science stories.
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“He was a mean son of a bitch and I’m glad he’s dead.”
I didn’t know my grandfather. Nobody, including my mother, ever spoke about him. One time I asked my Uncle Dave about him. That was his answer.
When something like this lives in your family history, how does it affect the generations that come after?
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She was such a funny kid. The youngest in the family, the clown. She could make me laugh until I face ached and my stomach would have laughter abs. That was what made her a hit with everyone, all those smiles and all that joy. Priceless, she was.
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Stop me if I’ve told you this before. Oh, right. You don’t know what I’m talking about yet. Well, when I was a kid I had these gold colored cap guns. Shaped like six shooters. They used caps that came in a disc with six shots. I had a plastic holsters to carry them in – one on each hip. I tell you, I was so cool carrying those cap guns down the street, I could hardly stand myself.
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I remember my mom saying, “use your own two feet,” when I complained about wanting to go somewhere she didn’t have time to take me. Way back then, I didn’t realize what a gift it was to have two good feet and two good legs that would propel me through space and take me places with ease. Feet, knees, legs, I want to thank you for your service. You’ve done well.
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