Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Create a Lasting Memory for Someone Else - Part I of III

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Not only did I have great dreams of becoming a pilot when I was a kid, but I also wanted a whole bunch of other stuff: a chemistry set, a puppy, a bike and a swimming pool.

Even at the age of 8, I was rather persistent with the desire to have it all. I was constantly trying to convince my parents that I was capable enough to take care of just about anything I asked for.

"Mom, if you and Dad bought me a chemistry set, I promise to clean up after each experiment."

"Don't worry about the poop Dad, I'll go outside everyday and scoop it up if you got me a dog."

"Hey, I'll even wash and wax my new bike at least once a week!"

"If we got a swimming pool, I'll vacuum it, I promise!"

Promises, promises, promises! Little tykes certainly know how to be ultimate salespeople, don't they? I wonder if Donald Trump was this persistent when he was a kid?

"But you're too young, Stephen," my mother would invariably say in response.

This went on for months. Despite her resistance, I could see I was gradually wearing her down because one day she finally said, "Well, maybe, I'll have to talk to your father about this." At that moment, I saw a faint glimmer of hope.

It happened during the summer of 1968, when we went on a camping trip to Lake George in upstate New York with another family that we were close friends with. On the third day, Mom and Dad suddenly announced they had to go back home for a rather "urgent matter," leaving both Dawn (my sister) and I in the care of the other family.

My father pulled me aside and said, "Your mother and I have to go somewhere for a few days. You and Dawn will be staying here with them. They'll be bringing you back home in a couple of days." He squeezed my shoulders and gave me a bear hug. Then they were gone in a flash.

I thought this was kind of odd but I didn't pay much attention because I was having too much fun playing with the other kids. The following day, Dawn and I were taken for a stroll about town with the "surrogate family." We were treated to a fabulous lunch of cotton candy, ice cream and huge salty pretzels. Then we went to the beach and made sand castles all day long. I had completely forgotten that Mom and Dad were not there with us!

It was with great reluctance when we had to pack up and return home at the end of the week. The drive took almost 2 hours before we arrived at my house.

As I was retrieving my duffle bag from the trunk of the car, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. It was the mother of the other family.

"Your Dad is calling you to the backyard; he wants to see you now." I looked up to see her kindly face smiling at me.

Puzzled that he would want to see me about something so soon, I remember thinking, "He probably has a chore for me to do around the house. Damn it!" (You'd be surprised how many "bad" words deaf kids pick up!)

Throwing aside the duffle bag, I made my way around the side of the house for the backyard. It was enclosed by one of those coated chain wire fences with a large access gate. Pushing up the lever that secured the gate, I let it swing wide open. Then I saw my Dad standing several feet away, waiting for me.

I wonder what he wants?

To be continued..........
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