About Me

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I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and businesswoman with a passion for life. I try to keep my priorities in life straight - Faith, Family, Friends. I love to try new and challenging things, spend time with friends and family, sew, embroider and laugh. I run a custom apparel decorating business from my home. I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What goes around comes around

Life is a long lesson in humility.  ~James M. Barrie

When I was fourteen I went to Clear Lake, Iowa with my Uncle Allen and Aunt Rita Hummel for a week.  We stayed at a house near the lake.  It was my first vacation.  And I was excited! Up til then my only trips more than twenty minutes from home was to my aunt and uncle's farm near LaPorte City or to the Backbone State Park on Sunday afternoons.  And now I was invited to go two hours away for a week go so I could help watch their three children and the five children of the couple that shared the house. So, yes, it was a vacation to me.

We, the younger generation, all stayed in the upstairs in a large bedroom with several double beds and a couple of baby beds.  I shared a bed with their twelve year old daughter.  My cousins were Steve, nine months; Barb, five and Bill, six.  I had done a lot of babysitting by the time I was fourteen and felt up to whatever challenges may come my way.  

I don’t remember much about the trip once we arrived.  I remember the upstairs being pretty warm for sleeping and we kept the fans running all night.  Air conditioning was not common for most homes in 1969.  But I was used to warm nights, it felt like home.  Often our upstairs was too warm for sleeping and we would gather our blankets and head outdoors to slumber under the stars and summer night air.  

The days at Clear Lake were spent splashing at the beach, building sand castles and refueling our sun kissed bodies with peanut butter and jelly on white bread.  Chips and Kool Aid finished off our three course meal. 

Steve, at nine months, was at the stage where he wanted to walk.  He did not understand that he could not.   Steve would crawl to me, pull himself up and grab my knees.  I leaned over with my fingers out stretched and he would wrap his tiny fingers around mine and off we went.  Stubby legs and curled toes pumped up and down as the two of us explored the rooms of the lake house.  

One afternoon the families crammed children, picnic baskets along with coolers of beer and Kool Aid into two wood paneled station wagons for a journey to the city park.  After bolting down the lunch the young folks scattered to the swings, merry go rounds and slides while the adults sat and drank their chilled beverages.

“Monie,” my Uncle Allen’s used his pet name for me, “are you going to be a half-back for the football team in the fall,” he teased.  He always gave me a hard time about my muscular legs.

 “Yeah, right,” I commented back.  “That’ll be the day they let a girl on the football team.”

“I bet you could outrun any boy on the team,” Allen continued.  “I heard you outran all the boys in the eighth grade last month.”

“Where did you hear that,” I sputtered indignantly.  

“Oh, Monie, don’t be so modest.  Why I bet you could race anyone here and win,” he continued.  “Vern, here, is pretty fast.  I bet you could beat him in a 60 yard dash,” as he jerked his beer bottle in his friend and house mate direction.  “Come on, Vern, let’s go.  You and Ramona, right now.”

Vern jumped to his feet and the two of us toed the imaginary line drawn on the grass by my uncle.  Me, a spunky fourteen year old who loved to run, and Vern, a jovial man with a healthy air about him, but a father of five with adult responsibilities.  Elbow to elbow we took position with knees bent, heads bowed  slightly and eyes that peered toward the tree that was our destination.  We waited impatiently for Uncle Allen to lower his outstretched arms to signal start.

“Go,” he yelled and we both took off like a shot.  For the first thirty yards we were shoulder to shoulder as out sneaker clad feet pounded the grass.  I had pulled ahead of Vern when I noticed him go down.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw him roll end over end.  I sprinted to the finish line and raced back to Vern.  I was joined by Uncle Allen, Aunt Rita and Vern’s wife, Ruthie.  “A little too much cold beer and a rut in the ground,” I surmised, but held my tongue.

“That’s a nasty gash,” the women said as the snake of red slithered down Vern’s arm.  “You need stitches,” Ruthie commented and Aunt Rita nodded in agreement.  

“I’m sorry, Vern.”  I felt terrible that I had continued and finished the race.  “I didn’t know you were hurt.  I would have stopped.”

“I would have beat you if I hadn’t tripped on the drain grate,” Vern taunted me as he struggled to stand.

“No way, I was ahead and you know it,” I fired back, hoping my jovial words would mask the sick feeling in my stomach.

Ruthie and Uncle Allen took Vern to the local hospital while Aunt Rita helped me round up the children and  drove us back to the lake house.  Once we were settled she joined the rest at the emergency room.  After what felt like hours, the foursome returned.  Vern’s arm was bandaged and the teasing about the race started up where it had left off.  I felt better seeing Vern was okay.  The rest of the vacation was enjoyed and there were no more foot races.  I returned home to our family farm grateful for the week of vacation.

Years later I would revisit the fateful race on another vacation, but this time the shoe was on the other foot.  My husband and I took our four children on an annual summer camping weekend with a group of close-knit friends.  Between the six families that circled the campfire each night we had twenty-four children, ranging in age from six to sixteen.  One of the teenage daughters of our friends was active on her school’s track team.  One word led to another and soon the challenge of years ago sounded again. 

“Let’s race up that hill,” I challenged Mary Jo.

"I don't know, are you sure," she questioned my ability at my age.

"Let's go," I assured her I was capable.
“Come on, Mona,” Mary Jo taunted me from the top.  I continued the ten yards and panted,
“Let’s try it again, this time going downhill,” I countered in an effort to redeem my running skills left at the track when I graduated high school.

I took off and promptly lost my footing.  I rolled head over heels until I crumpled in a heap at the bottom.  

“Are you okay,” my friends voiced concerned after they witnessed the spectacle.  Mary Jo was worried.  I popped my head off the ground and burst into laughter.

"Now I know how Vern felt,,” I laughed as I recounted the race to them from years ago.  “The only thing hurt is my pride.  My only regret – you didn’t get it on a video.  I’ll bet it was hysterical to watch.”  

The tension was over when all knew I was not hurt.  And I realized that the days of mixing foot races and vacations were over for me.  It was fun while it lasted.

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