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Archive for the ‘brothers and sisters’ Category

Note: This was originally posted in 2008. It is one of my favorite Christmas stories because it brings back the magic of Christmas that most of us had long, long ago.

I grew up in a large family.  There were seven kids plus my mom and dad.  My dad was the only one who worked, as was the norm in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  My dad drove a fork lift at one of the local canneries.  The only way there would ever be any money for Christmas gifts was for my mother to save money in a Christmas Club account at the local Bank of America where she made a weekly deposit.

One year my brother David, who was about eight years old that year, fell in love with a toy he saw on a TV commercial.  It was a cannon that shot hard plastic balls.  It was called the Mighty Mo.  The commercials showed the Mighty Mo crawling over and through rough terrain all on a miniature scale, of course, but it looked really neat.  The clincher was the footage of the cannon balls launching out of the Mighty Mo!

David had to have one but we were taught to not ask for anything, not even for our birthdays or Christmas so he couldn’t ask for one.  We lived a block away from Safeway and my mom used to send us on daily trips for the odd supply she needed before the next week’s big grocery trip.  Safeway carried a few toys then.  They placed them on the shelves high above the produce department as those shelves were normally empty.  On one of the trips to get something for my mom, David was thrilled to discover that Safeway had about two dozen Mighty Mos on their shelves!  After that day, David volunteered to go to Safeway every single time my mom needed something.

Every day David returned from his Safeway run to report exactly how many Mighty Mos were left on the shelf and every day, as the number dwindled, he gave my mom his report in a sadder and sadder tone.  First there had been two dozen then only eighteen.  Soon there were less than a dozen and when there were only four left, David was really sad. About three days before Christmas, David reported, with tears in his eyes, that there were no Mighty Mos left at Safeway.  When Christmas arrived, David was the only one of us that was not excited about it.  We all wanted him to be happy like we were but nothing got him excited.

On Christmas morning, we got up and my big brothers helped us girls get dressed and ready to go upstairs to open presents.  That’s what we did each year because it gave my parents a little extra time to get up.  When we got upstairs, David was the last one to go into the living room where the tree was with our Santa gifts unwrapped.  When he came in he found us all with huge smiles on our faces and our eyes intent on his face.  He didn’t know what was up until he looked under the tree and found his Mighty Mo with a big red ribbon on it!

We all enjoyed that Mighty Mo for several years.  David especially liked to shoot the cannon balls out of the Mighty Mo from the top of the stairs in the back yard.  It was a fun toy.  I only wish my brother David was still around to tell the story himself.

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I grew up in a large family.  There were seven kids plus my mom and dad.  My dad was the only one who worked, as was the norm in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  My dad drove a fork lift at one of the local canneries.  The only way there would ever be any money for Christmas gifts was for my mother to save money in a Christmas Club account at the local Bank of America where she made a weekly deposit.

One year my brother David, who was about eight years old that year, fell in love with a toy he saw on a TV commercial.  It was a cannon that shot hard plastic balls.  It was called the Mighty Mo.  The commercials showed the Mighty Mo crawling over and through rough terrain all on a miniature scale, of course, but it looked really neat.  The clincher was the footage of the cannon balls launching out of the Mighty Mo!

David had to have one but we were taught to not ask for anything, not even for our birthdays or Christmas so he couldn’t ask for one.  We lived a block away from Safeway and my mom used to send us on daily trips for the odd supply she needed before the next week’s big grocery trip.  Safeway carried a few toys then.  They placed them on the shelves high above the produce department as those shelves were normally empty.  On one of the trips to get something for my mom, David was thrilled to discover that Safeway had about two dozen Mighty Mos on their shelves!  After that day, David volunteered to go to Safeway every single time my mom needed something.

Every day David returned from his Safeway run to report exactly how many Mighty Mos were left on the shelf and every day, as the number dwindled, he gave my mom his report in a sadder and sadder tone.  First there had been two dozen then only eighteen.  Soon there were less than a dozen and when there were only four left, David was really sad. About three days before Christmas, David reported, with tears in his eyes, that there were no Mighty Mos left at Safeway.  When Christmas arrived, David was the only one of us that was not excited about it.  We all wanted him to be happy like we were but nothing got him excited.

On Christmas morning, we got up and my big brothers helped us girls get dressed and ready to go upstairs to open presents.  That’s what we did each year because it gave my parents a little extra time to get up.  When we got upstairs, David was the last one to go into the living room where the tree was with our Santa gifts unwrapped.  When he came in he found us all with huge smiles on our faces and our eyes intent on his face.  He didn’t know what was up until he looked under the tree and found his Mighty Mo with a big red ribbon on it!

We all enjoyed that Mighty Mo for several years.  David especially liked to shoot the cannon balls out of the Mighty Mo from the top of the stairs in the back yard.  It was a fun toy.  I only wish my brother David was still around to tell the story himself.

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When I was growing up I was exposed to a wide variety of music at home.  As far back as I can remember, my parents played records of  music in Spanish and listened to Spanish language radio.  I learned to dance by putting my feet on top of my dad’s feet and having him move us to Mexican mariachi music and rancheras and later, to Tex-Mex.

As my brothers, who were all older than me, grew into their teen years in the 60’s, I grew to love their music.  I can still sing every word of every Sonny and Cher song and I still blast the Beach Boys from the radio in the car and at home.  Then came the music question of the 60’sRollingStones or Beatles?

Our house was split.  Richard, the middle brother was strictly a RollingStones kind of guy.  Carlos, the oldest, was a straight Beatles guy.  David, the youngest of the three boys was kind of in between.  He listened to it all and picked what he liked best.  We, the younger sisters, took it all in and would sometimes use either the Stones or the Beatles to get what we wanted from one of the brothers!

In the summer of 1970, I was 14 and Carlos was 20 and still lived at home.  Carlos worked at the cannery where my dad worked and paid for his own car insurance and other car related expenses and the rest of his money went to my parents to help support us all.  One day, he came home smiling and happy and went into his room and started to play Let It Be on the record player.  He had bought the song on the 45 rpm version.

From then on, when Carlos was home, all we heard of him was Let It Be coming from his room.    It got to the point where, a couple of weeks later, my dad got tired of listening to that one song and threatened to go into the room and break the record in half and throw it out!  Carlos started playing it at a much lower level until he was able to save the money to get a whole Beatles album that he then listened to non-stop.  That was not really great with my dad but at least he didn’t have to listen to the same words of wisdom, Let It Be.

When I scattered Carlos’ ashes on April 18, I couldn’t help muttering those words as the ashes escaped the fingers of my hand…let it be.

LET IT BE

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness

She is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people

Living in the world agree,

There will be an answer, let it be.

For though they may be parted there is

Still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be. Yeah

There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,

There is still a light that shines on me,

Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.

There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be,

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

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David always stuck up for me.  Always.  When I was in first grade, David was in fifth grade.  One morning we were got to school an as we walked across the playground, a big kid yelled at me to get out of his way then he threw the baseball at my head, knocking me down to the ground.  David made sure I was okay and he got me to the office then he went and beat the kid up.  He didn’t care that the kid was a lot bigger than him.  He just beat him up for hurting his little sister. 

The following year we went to a different school.  I was the only one in the class that was new to the second grade group and they didn’t like me.  David was in sixth grade and was on the school Safety Patrol.  One day, he was near my building when I was out at recess.  I was on the spinning thing they called a merry-go-round and I was losing my grip.  I yelled for them to stop so I could get off but they laughed at me and went faster and faster.  I fell off and no one would stop it or slow down.   They were kicking me in the face and I was crying.  My mouth filled with dirt and tan bark.  All of the sudden David was there, blowing his Safety Patrol whistle and yelling at the kids to stop.  He pulled me out and got me to the Nurse’s Office and stayed with me until I got cleaned up.  When I got back to class, I found out that David had gotten the kids in trouble for not stopping when I was down under everyone’s feet.

Throughout our time in school, at least once a month David would come home with a torn shirt because he had been in a fight, sticking up for us, his little sisters.  He even got in a fight sticking up for our other brother that was two years older than David.  David was fierce when it came to protecting and defending his brothers and sisters.

I miss David.  I need David.  Sometimes I go to the cemetery and talk to him.   I took my kids with me to introduce them to David when they were babies.  Now I sit and tell him about what is going on with me and with my kids.  I ask him for help and advice.  Sometimes I cry, sitting there telling him how I miss him and how I wish he were here to help me and defend me.  I ask him to help me make decisions.  I know he hears me.

When we buried David more than 25 years ago, there was a tiny little pine tree next to his grave.  That tree is now huge and nine times out of ten, when I go to see David, after I’m all done talking to him and asking him to help me, a single pine cone drops from the tree and lands right next to me, even when there is no wind or breeze at all.  It makes me smile and although no one else seems to think so,  I know it’s David letting me know that  he’s there with me, listening, and getting ready to go slug it out for me!

pine-cone.jpg

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[This is from a prompt.  It’s memoir.  Enjoy.]

When I was a little girl, my mother would take us to all the parades in town.  My mom didn’t drive so we’d all walk together, all seven of us kids and our mom.  Downtown was about two miles away but we didn’t mind because we all loved parades.  Sometimes there were programs at the civic auditorium after the parade.  Those programs were always even more fun than the parades plus we’d get to sit down instead of having to stand up out in the cold.

One of my favorites was the Christmas parade.  It was the longest and the most fun and Santa Claus always gave out candy at the end of the parade.  After the parade, my family would go to the civic auditorium for the show they always put on after the parade.  There was music and little skits and at the end we got presents.  My mom would get tickets for the show and the presents ahead of time.  My dad didn’t make a lot of money working at the cannery and there were nine of us so we got to be one of the families that got to go to the special program and get the presents.

What was it about parades that made me eager to go?  I think it was mostly because it seemed to me that everyone was happy at the parades and I liked to be around happy people.  There were clowns, too.  I loved clowns and balloons and crowds.  Sometimes, if my mom had extra money, we might get a treat to share.  Usually, if we did get a treat, it was popcorn or caramel corn.  She’d get two of whatever she could afford and we’d all share.

Another thing I liked about parades was the music.  I loved to hear the bands coming down the street and leaving, going away from us.  But the one thing I didn’t like about parades was also the music.  When the bands were right in front of us, the big round drums that the boys carried in front of them, hanging from their backs, those drums made loud booming sounds and when they boomed, the boom was in my stomach.  It made me feel like my stomach was the drum and someone was beating on my stomach.  It made me want to cry.  I remember I’d try to hide behind my mother when the drums got close enough for my stomach to boom.  My sisters would cover their ears but that wouldn’t help me.  It wasn’t my ears that were booming.  I couldn’t explain to my mother why I didn’t like it when the bands got right in front of us.  She couldn’t understand why covering my ears didn’t make me feel better.

I wish there were still parades in towns where everyone could go and see each other and eat popcorn and caramel corn and watch the bands go by and the clowns and balloons.  If there were, I could just walk toward the back of the crowds when those great big booms came to my stomach.  That just might help enough.

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