Welcome, Lea Schizas
Perhaps these families don’t share the same childhood memories that bonded my siblings and my parents as a family unit.
Every Sunday Dad would take us out for supper--and I mean every Sunday—because he wanted to give Mom at least one night during the week a break from cooking for us. So off we went driving first around the city, nowhere in particular, until we always ended up at a restaurant—that is until McDonald’s opened up and the kids outvoted the parents where to go eat.
Every summer, we had our family vacation: Cape Cod, Old Orchard Beach Maine, Greece, Washington, or just weekend getaways at Plattsburgh.
But these aren’t the memories that come to mind when I hear children telling their parents, “I hate you.” No, there’s a series of scenes that come to mind all related to one incident: an accident I had when I was seven years old.
A car hit my bike, and I went flying over his hood and landing to the right of the car. He came out of nowhere, and I was on the side of the street. I walked my bike home, a block away, felt fine...until the next day when my woes began.
The front portion of my right leg from the knee down felt as though it was on fire. Dad took me to several doctors, yelled at one for telling him that I was faking it, and brought me to the hospital. I ended up staying for a month, having one surgery to scrape away an infection to my bone and also a skin graft to close the wound. The wound, by the way, is about ten inches long, beginning right under the knee.
After surgery I was given three shots on my knee for I don’t remember how many days. I do remember the ice cream. Yummy.
This was incident one. Incident two:
The following year I went to Greece with my grandmother. No more than two weeks into my vacation, I developed some sort of a bump on my right leg and that same burning began. Grandma, God rest her soul, had to listen to my yells that I wanted to go home. Dad pulled strings since he knew many higher ups in the airport at Olympic Airlines, because they were refusing me passage because I was obviously sick with something.
At the airport in Montreal he was there and so was an ambulance to take me straight to the hospital. Another opening that same leg, two weeks at the hospital and I was back at school with a cast for about six months. Boy, thank God for those long rulers where I could dip it in the cast and scratch those bloody itches.
Three years later, after a game of dodge ball, that stupid heat hit my leg again. Back to the hospital for another surgery.
What has this to do with family memories? I’m getting to it.
This last surgery they didn’t close my wound. They left that ten inch long gab, one inch deep pit open for my dad or mom to clean every single day for a year. They said that if in a year’s time the infection didn’t come back then they’d do the skin graft and close it up. If it came back they’d have to amputate from the knee down because they noticed the infection each time had risen from the last time.
The family memory, which I only found out years later but remember how sad Dad always looked this last time when I had to walk around with a crater on my leg, was that Dad had vowed if I got through this year with no infection he’d buy the church the biggest icon he could afford.
Now I know why a certain priest loved my dad. GRIN.
This memory of how Dad and Mom took care of their child, worried about their child, prayed for their child, cried for their child, and were there whenever I opened my eyes at the hospital is the one thing that has never left my childhood memories, and no matter how upset I may have become at any point during my teen or adult years at them, this memory kept me in check and I held my tongue.
Words when spoken can never be taken back. No matter how many “I’m sorry” one says the hurt and damage has been done and you’ve aged that person with bitter words that were best left unspoken if only a childhood memory would have come to the forefront.
To my dad that passed away April 16, 2007 I want to say “I love you, Daddy.”
An excerpt from The Halloween Dino Trip
The Halloween Party
Jillian opened the bedroom window, poked her head outside, and peered at the sky. The sun warmed her face.
Clear, clear, clear. Better stay like this until my Halloween party.
October brought cooler temperatures, rumbling thunder, and dark gray clouds, earlier this year than others. Today’s blue sky, however, gave Jillian hope. She shut her window but not before one last glance up.
Jillian walked around the white-bleached canopy bed, her bare feet sinking into the matching plush area rug. She opened her closet and stared at last year’s costume hanging in the far corner; a witch’s long-sleeved dress and matching hat.
A smile flittered across her lips before turning into a pout. Only thing needed is a new robe, she thought, poking her fingers through torn slits on the right sleeve.
“Jillian, Barbara’s here,” called her mother from downstairs.
She pulled on a pair of socks, and dashed out the door.
“Hey,” Barbara said, a smile pasted on her face. Jillian jumped the last couple of stairs, landing right in front of her lanky friend.
“Where’s your costume?” Jillian stared at Barbara’s empty hands. “I always get a sneak preview of what you’re wearing before Halloween.”
“Mom’s not finished sewing it yet. But it’ll be ready before Friday’s party.”
Barbara’s hazel eyes sparkled with amusement.
“It’s not ready or you don’t want me to see it yet?” Jillian planted her hands on her hips waiting for a response.
Barbara giggled and shrugged her shoulders. “Let’s just say it’s not ready to be unwrapped.”
“Hmm.” Jillian was definitely intrigued now.
Daisy appeared out of nowhere, barking loud, and startling the girls. She jumped from one to the other, sniffed, and pawed the girls for their attention.
“Daisy, quiet.” Jillian reached down and grabbed the rambunctious Shi Tzu, scooping her in her arms.
“You’re lucky she’s not a Chihuahua . My aunt’s dog barks nonstop.” Barbara leaned over and patted Daisy on the head. “You dressing her up?” She giggled when the pup licked her hand like a popsicle.
“Yep, a witch needs a ghost dog.”
Daisy’s black and white face shook as she looked around, eying both girls. She wiggled to get free, flapping her puffy pom-pom tail in Jillian’s face.
“Okay, okay, hold on.” Jillian placed the puppy on the floor, and then rummaged through her back pocket taking out a scrunchie. She tied her long hair in a ponytail.
“Why don’t you ever wear a black wig to cover up your tomato hair?” Barbara asked.
“And be the same like every other witch?”
The pup rolled over, exposing her pink belly. Barbara laughed, petting her softly. Within seconds, Daisy scurried across the hallway straight into the kitchen. The scent of cinnamon with a hint of honey tickled the air around them.
“Smells good whatever your mom’s cooking.”
“Goodies for the party. But that’s just the beginning. Want to see the decorations in the backyard?”
Nodding, Barbara followed Jillian through the country-style kitchen. Copper pots hung over the wood beam ceiling. Along the wall beside the patio doors, wooden shelves housed decorative plates with artists’ signatures. As they passed the philodendron, Jillian reached out to slide the door when…
“Jillian! Put on shoes, please. I don’t want you dragging leaves all over the house with your socks when you come back in!”
“Busted,” Barbara whispered. She smiled and pointed down to her shoes to show Mrs. Waylan.
Jillian ran from the room and within seconds she returned sporting running shoes.
“Don’t be cheeky,” Mrs. Waylan answered.
The girls giggled and scooted out the backdoor.
A huge black tent covered half the yard on the right side. Gaming booths in different sizes were set up on the other side.
“Wow.” Barbara’s gaze flitted back and forth taking it all in; her stringy blond hair bouncing with every head turn.
“Dad’s going to blow up the balloons Thursday night. And I told him we’d set up the garland.”
“Neat.” Barbara gave two thumbs up.
Suddenly, a bright flash lit the inside of the tent. A wind moaned and breezed past them, shaking the big Maple tree branches.
“Oh no!” Jillian rushed inside the tent followed by Barbara. Catching her breath, she turned on the light, and inched forward, inspecting all around. Everything appeared in perfect working order. When her jangled nerves relaxed, she let out a deep sigh.
“Looked like lightning.”
“Probably a malfunction. I’ll tell my dad to check the wiring again. But I sure didn’t like that sudden wind.”
“They’re calling for warm weather this week.”
“I hope so. All we need is a storm and everything will be ruined.” Jillian pouted. As she was about to leave, Jillian noticed something at the far end of the tent. She walked to the front of a stand with an old and tattered black book resting on it.
“Cool. Look, Barb. My parents must have placed this prop here.” Gently touching the gold-etched lettering on the front cover, she read, ‘Witch’s Spell Book.’ “Now this is
Halloween - a witch and her magical spell book.”
“This is going to be one spooky party, Jillian.”
The girls left the tent and headed back inside the house.
The wind picked up once again.
The branches swayed.
And a glowing orange halo slithered inside the tent.