Sunday, August 17, 2008

TOE JAM

I don't have anything ready for my personal history group on Tuesday and I thought Maybe I could write a blog and use it for both? I'm lazy that way. So, here it is, unedited, just like everything is on this blog.

Danny was sleeping over for several days. We were in the twin-bed bedroom. I loved that room because there was a little lamp over each bed. You could read in bed and when you heard an enforcer on the steps you could just reach up and turn off the light and almost never get caught.

Danny and I got along okay but because he was a boy we weren't the greatest of pals. Besides that he was a year older than I was. That made him pretty much the boss.

Every night, as we knelt by our beds to say our prayers our feet would touch. We would say things like, "Get your toe-jam out of my way!" or "Keep your to-jam to yourself." We were such clever four and five-year-olds.

Danny's Mom and Dad eventually moved to Salt Lake City and I didn't have to worry about his toe jam or his teasing or bossiness until Uncle Clyn died in his 50's and several years later Aunt Dee remarried. Danny came to stay while they honeymooned in Hawaii. This time we were teenagers and slept in separate rooms. He pretty much still thought he was the boss and added to that he was furious with his Mom for remarrying; he made my life miserable. The only time he showed any pleasure was the times he as eating or when he was annoying me. Mom asked me to "be understanding." This was my house. He should be the understanding one and be decent. He was not in an understanding mood. Or a decent one.

I had finally had enough. My first sign of rebellion came one day when he did something to annoy me and then he took off, down the upstairs hall. He was faster than I was an was almost to the steps. I knew I didn't have a chance catching him so I launched myself at him. Now I am not a great physical person. The only time I attempted to leap a hedge I fell on my face. When I sneaked into a neighbor's yard in the middle of the night with friends I was the one who caught my foot on barbed wire and left a guilty trial of blood. But, this one time, I was a champion. He fell with a thud. Of course I fell too but it didn't matter. I was victorious. He, of course, was furious.

My second and last sign of rebellion came when I bought a slide-bolt door-lock in Richfield. I didn't tell anyone I had it. When I got home I realized the door and the wall had to be on the same level so I simply chipped part of the door frame away and installed my lock. The next day I annoyed Danny. It didn't take much. I took off like the streak of fear that I was. He was a few steps behind me. I flew up the seventeen steps and barely made it to my door before he did. I slid the bolt shut and then listened as he tried to get in. The words "Raging Bull" come to mind as I listened to him through the door. He was furious. I thought he would tear the door down and I finally yelled that if he did he would be in BIG trouble with Aunt Jo--my mom. That got him. No one wanted to be in trouble with Aunt Jo and he stomped away.

We grew up. Danny served in Viet Nam, got married and had a couple of kids. His marriage disintegrated. His life did too. Then, one day, out of the blue, he died; almost exactly the same age his dad was when he died. I spoke at his funeral.

Now, six or seven years later I am remembering Danny, remembering all his childish pranks, his hopes for the future, the desire to serve a mission that he never quite had the courage to do. I am remembering how Aunt Dee and Uncle Con followed the Viet Nam war on a map; always afraid Danny would be in the news. Danny was never the same after that war.

Tonight I am thinking of a little boy, whose biggest problem was his cousin's toe-jam. I am grieving that we weren't better friends later, when he needed a friend so badly. One thing I don't regret is the lock on my bedroom door. It was a job not very well done but satisfying, never the less. I think Danny was a little bit proud of me too.

6 comments:

Mental P Mama said...

That is a very sweet tribute. And I think he knew...

tearese said...

Isn't it sad hw we always appreciate people more after they are gone? Or at least we thing about them more. Like...one of my grandpas lived a few blocks from us growing up. Everyday that it was warm, he'd walk to our house and sit under our front yard tree. When we were little we'd go out and talk, when we were older we'd hide and hope he didn't come in the house, because he always made annoyin g comments. He died my senior year in highschool. I'm still ashamed.Even annoying grandpas deserve the love of their grandkids.

Michael Rawluk said...

That is the funniest sad story I have read in a long time. Or the saddest funny story.

Pam's Place said...

Michael described it well. Sweet, and funny, but sad,too.

I can see you and Danny as 4 or 5 year olds, kneeling in prayer and fussing about toe jam. Heavenly Father undoubtedly smiled.

Teresa said...

I enjoyed your story...I could picture the whole scenario. What a wonderful tribute.

Shar said...

I loved this story. your pacing is spot on when you tell a story and it just carries me to the last word and leaves me so sad to have come to that last little dot.