These stories will not make sense together. In fact, they’re not exactly stories, just random pieces of things I remember. One night when all of us kids are together, you should just tape record our conversations and have someone transcribe the things we say. Maybe we kids can all chip in for that one.
I love you and Merry Christmas.
We did not have a pool growing up.
Well actually, that’s not exactly true. We did have a pool (in fact, I’m sure we had several), but they were the $10 hard plastic ones that you find at KMart when the weather changes from “pretty warm” to “stupid hot.” And those pools were awesome, but they weren’t in-ground, you-can-actually-go-under-the-water pools. Instead in our backyard, we had a tree house that my dad and grandpa built for us. [I actually don’t know how many people would classify that as a tree house, as it wasn’t built in a tree. What we had was more of a fort on stilts with a metal slide that you could fly very quickly down if you sat on a piece of waxed paper. But, the tree house is probably for a different set of stories.] Several of our neighbors had pools, and when the Ledford’s moved in with a kid my age, our whole family benefited. Sure, we could use the Wallace’s pool across the street, but their kids were old enough to babysit us, which isn’t ideal for swimming companions. I remember playing all the usual pool games (Marco Polo, Toothpaste, etc) that you were supposed to play growing up, but I also remember the stupid things only we would do that I probably shouldn’t admit to doing. One thing I vividly remember is having popsicles in the shape of Disney characters. We’d stand at the top ledge between the main pool and the hot tub, unwrap our popsicles and throw them into the water. The goal was to jump in and be the first to your popsicle before it touched the bottom or melted too much. I’ve been sitting here as I type this, trying to remember why we did this to begin with and I have no clue. I guess maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time, but thinking about how much chlorine I must’ve swallowed playing this “game” makes me a little queasy.
I remember taking swimming lessons at Cady Way pool. At least, I remember that *someone* took swimming lessons there, and after one of the lessons, we (me, you, Keith/Kelly?) went to someone’s house to hang out for a little while (I think a little friend of Kelly’s, for some reason I think it was a kid with a disability?). I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to be there, and probably complained a lot about it, but wound up getting to watch part of “The Brave Little Toaster,” a movie that to this day I haven’t finished.
I remember Dad’s office parties. Not just the ones that happened over the summer at people’s houses (like Larry Watson’s and Judge Conway’s), but the Christmas parties that happened at our house once or twice when I was little. I remember the house being clean (something that wasn’t exactly new to us, as we weren’t dirty, but this kind of clean was uncluttered) and watching the cartoon version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” while playing “Pretty, Pretty Princess,” a game that I don’t think we actually owned. I guess maybe someone else’s kid had it and let me play too. Then it seemed like there were suddenly a million people in our house and at some point, Santa would appear. You told me a few months ago that our Santa was Buddy Dyer, Orlando’s current mayor, something that still makes me giggle a little thinking about it. For whatever reason, I think it’s amusing that someone who is powerful enough to make decisions for the city of Orlando at one point had to wear a rented red suit in front of our fireplace while we all took turns telling him what we wanted for Christmas.
I remember that no matter what activity each of us kids wanted to do, you were involved. You taught us Sunday School at Sts. Peter and Paul, alternating between classrooms so none of us would get too jealous. When we did Girl Scouts, you were our leader, specializing in turning our living room into a cookie storage facility. I learned that you can’t just order the exact number of cookies that you need from the Girl Scouts, that they were set in predetermined quantities per box and that it was our responsibility to either sell off the rest or cough up the money. (Sneaky, sneaky Girl Scouts. They know exactly what they’re doing…) You sewed our Halloween costumes, some of our clothing, and a doll for me, a doll that still lives in my room as a reminder of how much you love me. You were in everything we did, a great accomplishment considering the fact that each of us 4 kids are incredibly different. As an adult now, being able to look at some of the things that go into making these activities happen, I don’t know how you did it. But I’m very, very thankful that you did.