Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome, Lea Schizas

There are times, when I hear bickering amongst neighbourhood children and their families, and even close relatives that I want to shout “My parents are the best! My dad was the best! My mom kicked my butt when I needed it, and I’m a better person now for it so STOP YOUR BICKERING.” But, naturally, I don’t.

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
Chapter One

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.


Kat said...

I adore Lea. Working for her as an author has been an absolute joy. She is the most supportive and amazing woman. And I have read some of her work. Her talent as an author blows me away. Lea you are amazing.

Arlene said...

What a lovely tribute to your parents, Lea. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man. Thanks for sharing a huge part of your past that had to have shaped what a strong dedicated parent you in turn became. And geez, what a master of the hook, who wouldnt turn the pages or click to buy in order to find out what that orange glow-halo thingee is.

Heather Haven said...

Lea's talents are varied and astounding. Accomplished on many levels as an artist and woman, Lea's writing is entertaining, deep, and heartwarming. A woman to be admired.

Karen McGrath said...

Lea, thanks for sharing that story. You obviously have a wonderful loving and supportive family, what a blessing. I love it that your Dad flew you home from Greece and met you at the airport, what a hero! Best wishes with all of your endeavors!

Pat Dale said...

What a wonderful way to pay tribute to your parents! The thing that grips my heart is that not all children have such loving fathers and mothers. Those of us who do have a very special gift from God and we should never forget it. I'm thankful that mine were much like yours. Thanks for sharing with us.

Lin said...

Lea, your Dad sounds like he was cut from the same cloth as my grandmother. Sadly my parents were not that strong.

Nonnie died when I was eleven. She gave me the wellspring of unconditional love that is the foundation I have used to build on. She died when I was eleven. I learned later she should ahve died six years sooner, but knew I needer her moore than she needed to pass into the arms of my Grandfather, a man much like your father and the love of her life, who's died thirty years sooner.

She knew my life would have been unbearable without her. Thank you Nonnie. Not a day goes by when I don't miss you...and Thank you Lea, for being the woman you are, for being the publisher you've become and for providing the oasis to so many of us in this turbulent world that surrounds us.

Roseanne Dowell said...

I've known Lea (or of Lea might be a better way to say it) for a long time. I was one of her presenters for her conference. I admire her talents, her wit (yes, even her wet noodles and awards LOL)and her kindness and consideration. It's obvious, after reading this post, she learned these traits from her parents. I believe they're what made her so successful. I believe someone said "If you treat people with respect, you'll earn their respect." Lea treats everyone with respect and I know everyone here at MuseIt Up Publsihing respects her.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for sharing such a special memory with us, Lea. Best of luck with MuseItUp Publishing. If anyone deserves the best, it's you.


Lisabet Sarai said...

Wonderful story, Lea,

I am so grateful for the love and closeness I experienced in my own family. My dad died two years ago, at the ripe age of 87, but I still miss him every day.

Thanks for sharing your book snippet, too!


MuseItUp Publishing said...

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your own experiences and thoughts. Strong and caring people, regardless if it's our family or someone we know, make and shape who we are eventually down the road. This is what I hope our young children who lack this close relationship may experience one day with a teacher or mentor.

Anita Davison said...

Your childhood story reminded me of my own Lea, though it is somewhat less dramatic.
When I was six, I broke my left wrist roller skating - and four days later I broke the right one - again roller skating. The doctors separated my parents and questioned them for hours because, 'No child breaks both arms by accident in a week' I was blithely unaware of the trauma they went through - but I cried when we got home and Mum threw my roller skates away! They never would buy me another pair!

madcapmaggie said...

Lea, ouch! How painful -- but your dad sounds terrific. Thanks for posting this story.

Karen Cioffi said...

Lea, what a wonderful tribute to your parents.

I was hit by a car when I was around 8, but I ran out into the street - totally my fault.

It does seem that today, children don't have the same respect we had years ago for their parents, and others for that matter.

Not sure if it has to do with television or just a general overall decline in morals and respectfulness.

Your excerpt is great!

Charlie said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Lea. A great accolade to your dad. Makes me miss my daddy too. Gone now almost 20 years, I still can see his face and feel his hand on my shoulder. A simple man with nothing but love in his heart for his family. Sigh..... thanks!