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Posts Tagged ‘memoir’

My ex-husband has always been an avid sports fan. He follows baseball, football, and basketball. At least when we were married that was all he followed. Of course he also watched tennis and golf and every other sport on TV, but as for attending games and really following on the radio (ooohhh what’s that?) and TV, it was baseball, football, and basketball. We lived in Los Angeles (Santa Monica to be exact) so we were Dodger fans. He still lives there and is still a huge fan with season tickets and all that. I still love the Dodgers, too.

I remember going to as many games as we could afford. We went in triple digit heat, in rain, in wind; we went all the time! As soon as there was a hint of post season play, he would mail in the postcard to win the chance to buy tickets. And he would use every name he could think of, his, mine, his sister, his niece, his brother-in-law, friends, on those post cards so he would have more chances of winning the right to buy the tickets. One year, I think it was the first year we were married, 1978, he got tickets to the World Series against the Yankees. He invited his father to drive up for the game. It was a huge thing to have his dad come. Hid dad was a big fan too so he really appreciated the chance to go to the game.

So the day of the game arrived. His father drove the three hours that day and was in town in the early afternoon. When the time arrived, off the two went to the game. Then a couple of hours later, I got a phone call. It was from a pay phone (no cell phones then). It was my husband. He was out of breath and upset. I think he called me just to vent because there was nothing I could have done. It seems that his dad was holding the tickets and put them down to buy a program then forgot about the tickets (his dad was elderly, tired from the drive, and excited about the game). When they got to the gate, they had no tickets. They retraced their steps but the tickets were gone. Stadium police were called and because my husband had looked at those tickets so many times since they had arrived in the mail, he had memorized the section and seat numbers. So Stadium Police (and they are definitely Police, not just security, with the right to arrest and their own jail inside the stadium) went to the seats, got the people out of the seats. They didn’t have the right ID. The stadium had a record of who the tickets had been mailed to. So the people that were in the seats were taken away by the Stadium Police and my husband and his dad got to watch the game in their seats.

It’s one of those things that sticks in your mind and pops up every so often. They were lucky that he remembered the seats and had the receipt in the envelope in his pocket to prove he was the rightful owner of the tickets. They missed the first inning and a half but that was okay, they were relieved to be able to enjoy the rest of the game…a World Series game…against the NY Yankees!

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Have you ever been on a cruise? I always wanted to go on one, until I did. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy traveling and I even enjoyed the cruise but there is always at least one thing we don’t like but have to live through to finally enjoy our trip. Sometimes it’s the packing that you just can’t stand but without packing, there’s no trip! I really hate the getting to the airport from the time I leave until the time I board the plane and put on my seat belt, but I love the actual flight.

I love cruising. I’ve only been on two but that’s enough to tell you that I want to go on more and that I don’t want to go on any more! I don’t mind the waiting endlessly to board the ship. I don’t mind listening to the “orientation assembly” where they tell you everything you need to know that you already know (because let’s face it, who goes on a cruise without reading everything possible on the internet?).  The one thing…just one thing that I absolutely cannot stand is the Muster Drill. You have to have one, it’s required by the Coast Guard or whoever administers those things. The Muster Drill, for those that don’t know, is like a fire drill. The horn/signal sounds and everyone has to drop what they are doing and rush to the escape location; rush up or down stairs; meet in the designated location and line up to be counted. That’s how they know everyone will know what to do in case of an emergency. They are very strict about it. If you skip it, they come find you and I have heard that in some cases, they will make you disembark or drop you off at the first stop. They ARE serious about it.

The first time I went on a cruise, it was to celebrate my daughter’s 21st birthday. We went on the cruise from San Pedro, CA to Ensenada, Mexico and back. It was great fun. But the Muster Drill was not. I hated it because they really rushed us and I felt like I had to run and I have a bad knee and back and I can’t rush like that. There were A LOT of stairs, too. Then we had to stand out there until everyone was counted and they had to count several times because the count was off so it took over an hour of standing time before we could go back to enjoy our cruise. I said I wouldn’t do it again.

Then, years later, came the invitation to my high school reunion, on a cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada. So I went. I invited my sister and she went with me. She has problems with her back and can’t do stairs easily. So when the alarm sounded for the Muster Drill, off we went. We were the first ones to the exit location and we had to lead all the others up the stairs. At the top of the first flight of stairs, one of the crew members saw us both struggling and told us to go around the corner and use the elevator. Yay! Off we went. We got in the elevator and there was a different crew member telling people not to get on the elevator. We ignored her and said we had been told to use the elevator. She kind of ignored us and started the spiel: “In case of an emergency, if the ship sinks, the elevator will get filled with water and you could drown…”  I was feeling punchy so I answered, “Yeah. I know. I saw the movie. It’s called Titantic. It’s pretty good. You should see it.” And I pushed the elevator for the floor we needed as the doors closed.

Yeah. Sometimes I crack myself up. But rarely. THAT’S why I probably won’t go on another cruise. Remind me of this if at any time in the future you read that I am going on a cruise!

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Originally published on this blog on October 17, 2007, this is my post for the first #ThrowbackThursday Link Party which asks bloggers to post a blog post that is more than 30 days old. Go check it out!

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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Trigger Warning: sexual assault

The only good thing about it was that it was over quickly.

It was Valentine’s Day and out theater group was performing in the dining hall. The performance was excellent. We were all in top form. The audience understood all of the jokes and the nuances. There was applause at just the right time. When it was over, the twelve of us went up to my dorm room to celebrate. Someone had beer. I put on an album…not sure but I vaguely remember that it was something by Santana. They didn’t stay long. Within the hour everyone had left, except him. He looked through my albums and asked if he could play a different one. When he walked to the closet where the stereo was kept, he shut the door which led to the hallway. I didn’t think anything of it because you sort of had to if you wanted to open the closet doors completely.

The music played and he took my hand and started to dance with me. That was fine. But soon…too soon…he had grabbed both of my arms behind my back and he was pushing me down on my bed. I shook my head and said no. He smiled and covered my protests with his mouth. He said I should not be scared. But I was. I didn’t want this. I didn’t know him except from our weekly class meetings. I tried to push him off of me but he was too big; too heavy. I tried to wiggle out from under him but I couldn’t. My hands were pinned under me; they hurt; they were twisted. His left had covered my mouth and I could not breathe. His right hand ripped at my white dress then at my underwear. I shouted and I shook my head but his mouth silenced my shouting. He was too big for me to fight off. Then there was more pain. My wrists. My chest as I tried to breathe. My head had banged against the metal bed frame. My legs were twisted. With the pain came the damp between my legs and from my eyes. He got off of me; fixed his clothes and left. He smiled at me as he was left. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t speak. I felt broken. I felt like I was dead. I felt like I didn’t matter. I felt like what I wanted was of no consequence.

The only good thing about it was that it was over quickly. Only the memories have lasted. I have squelched them but they seem to be coming more and more frequently now. I think some secrets have to be exposed. Maybe then the memories will stop.

 

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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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Yesterday, I read Deb’s post in which she wrote about trying to learn to ride a motorcycle.  It reminded me of my motorcycle adventures.  I’ve written about it in this post in which I wrote about my dad’s money-making trades.  Here’s the part that I was reminded of: 

My personal favorite of my dad’s deals was a white Honda 90 motorcycle.  I loved it.  It became mine.  I was 15 and there was talk that when I turned 16 I would get my license on the Honda 90.  We lived on a cul-de-sac with very little traffic so I was allowed to drive it up and down the street.  I loved feeling the wind blowing through my long dark hair (even though I was only going about 35 or 40 mph).  Unfortunately, I never got my license on that motorcycle.  I ruined my chances of that one early summer evening, four months shy of turning 16.  I persuaded my sister, Irene (aka The Drama Queen) to go down the street on the motorcycle with me.  There were three boys who lived down the street.  They were all cute.  They were a few years older than us but they always smiled and flirted with us when we went by.  I had seen them in the window when I had driven by earlier so I knew they were there.  When Irene and I go to their house, I turned toward the window where they stood and smiled, tilting my head in a greeting.  When my eyes returned to the road, I realized that the STOP sign was much closser than I had thought.  I hit the brakes so hard that the motorcylce flipped and threw Irene and me  into the air.  Irene claimed not to be able to walk or even get up.  Although my legs and arms were cut and skinned, I picked her up and put her on the curb then I picked up the motorcycle but I couldn’t get it started so I ended up walking it up the hill (and it was a steep hill) to our house.  When I got home, my mom and dad were in the front yard and they asked what happened.  I told them we had flipped over and they asked where Irene was.  I told them she was on the curb because she couldn’t walk up the hill so they both panicked and jumped in my dad’s car to drive down and get her.  I was upset at my parents because they left me bleeding to go get Irene.  And I was more upset at the boys we were trying to impress because they had seen us flip over and knew we were hurt and they didn’t even come to see if we were okay.  The Jerks.  Needless to say, my mother persuaded my father to get rid of the Honda before one of us got killed on it (her words, not mine).  Losing that motorcycle was one of the worst things that had happened to me in my almost 16 years.

Since then, I have wanted to ride a motorcycle again but now, as I grow older, I would be satisfied to be the rider and not the driver!

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One of the things I enjoy about blogging is that I can read a blog and it will trigger a memory that I can write about and share with my own readers. Such a thing happened last night as I read Joanne’s post at My Life Lived Full.

When I lived in Los Angeles, we (my kids and I) spent a lot of time in the car, on one of the many freeways we had to take to navigate from one part of the county to another. One of these times, my daughters and I were coming back from visiting friends. They were about 19 and 13 years old. It was dark out and we were traveling west on the 134, which is the Ventura Freeway. That night, as happens most nights, the traffic was buzzing along at about 70 miles per hour. No one was going slower or faster. That’s not an ideal situation because it pretty much forces drivers to drive just as fast as everyone else and it makes it very difficult to move over from one lane to another. I was driving along with the flow of traffic but because we had to drive the same freeway for about twenty or more miles, I had gotten into the far left lane of a four lane freeway. I was sort of stuck there.

Suddenly, Tina (the older of the two girls) starts screaming. “Something is crawling on me! Something is crawling on me!” And she starts swatting at the something and wiggling around to get away from the Something. Of course, she was riding shotgun so as she screamed and swatted, she was distracting me from the driving. I tried to keep my eyes and mind on the road and I did, but I had to really concentrate. The screaming continued. “It’s a spider! Mom, get it off of me! Mom! I hate spiders, get it off of me!” More shrieking and swatting. As I drove, I tried to find a spot to move over four lanes so I could pull off the freeway before she swatted the steering wheel out of my hands, blew out my ear drums, or had a heart attack, whichever came first. As I glanced over toward the right to check traffic, I spotted the spider as it was briefly lit by the headlights of the cars behind me.

It was a tiny spider. Tiny. As in eensy weensy spider! I cracked up. That made Tina more upset because she thought (okay, she knew) I was laughing at her. And the screaming at me continued. “Don’t laugh at me! It’s not funny. I hate spiders! Get it off of me!” Susie, in the back seat, had been pretty quiet the whole time, just watching the entertainment Tina was providing. Then I blew it. I told Tina it was a tiny spider and started singing, “the eensy weensy spider climbed up the Tina girl. Down came Tina’s arm and slapped the eensy weensy spider down.” As I sang, Susie and I cracked up. By then I had managed to move over a couple of lanes, almost in time to get off on an actual exit but I missed the exit. More screaming and swatting, then finally, as I reached the next exit and began to get off of the freeway, Tina laughed too. There were tears in her eyes but I think she finally realized the humor in the situation and she laughed. Either that or she was laughing in relief that I was going to get the spider off of her.

We made it off of the freeway, where she got out of the car and shook off anything and everything that could possibly have been on her then she swatted at the seat and the windows before getting in the car. All the while, Susie and I cracked up. When she got back in the car, she asked me not to get back on the freeway. She wanted me to take surface streets so if there were anymore spiders, we could pull over quickly. I complied and we proceeded home. After about five minutes, there came a little voice from the back seat as Susie sang the words to the eensy weensy spider song. And we all cracked up. Even Tina.

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Blogging From A to Z

In 1999, my three kids and I went on one of our last road trips together. That summer we drove from Los Angeles to Vancouver, British Columbia. This trip was a little easier for me because my son had just begun driving and was able to help me with that, as well as with distracting and occupying his younger sisters.

On our way north, we drove first to San Jose and stayed with my sister for a couple of days before heading to Canada. When we got started, we drove along U.S. 101 from San Francisco across the Oregon border just north of Crescent City then headed east to Interstate 5 which we would take the rest of the way into Canada. When we got near Medford, Oregon on Interstate 5, we began to see signs for an attraction called Wildlife Safari. According to the billboards, it wasn’t too far away. We hadn’t heard of it previously but the signs promised a drive-thru experience with wildlife and a zoo, as well as a gift shop and cafeteria. We decided we would keep driving until we got to the turn off for Wildlife Safari instead of stopping for a rest in Medford.

When we arrived we learned that we would drive through the gated and fenced in grounds in our own car. We would be able to drive through at our leisure and were allowed to open windows in the car, except in the bear and lion dens where our windows had to be rolled up. We didn’t know what to expect but my kids, all three of them, have always loved wildlife and were excited to go through. So we did.

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We were not disappointed in the least. The park was everything it had promised and so much more. The animals came up to the car windows in many cases and in some cases, we actually had to stop the car and wait for the wildlife to get out of our way. We saw girafffes, zebras, camels, yaks, bison, emus, and a variety of different deer, sheep, and goats. We saw monkeys, black bears, brown bears, tigers, lions, leopards, and just about any kind of animal you might expect to see on safari. The animals are grouped in “continent” manor so that you would see the same animals grouped together that you would actually see in proximity to one another in the wild. The kids were mesmerized. Because we were able to move at our own pace (under ten miles per hour) we were able to take a lot of pictures. The kids were able to take off their seat belts and change places to get a better view any time they wanted to.

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When we finished the drive and got out of the car to head to the mini zoo and gift shop, the kids were so enthusiastic that they wanted to go again. However, we didn’t have time because the park was about to close and we had already lost three hours of driving time. We were determined to make it to Portland that evening. The whole rest of the trip, over a week’s time, the kids kept talking about Wildlife Safari and asked if we could go through again on the way home. We agreed that if everyone cooperated in getting up and leaving Vancouver on time, we should be able to arrive at Wildlife Safari just before the last drive through of the day. So now we had a goal to shoot for.

We did it! Everyone cooperated. We were able to leave Vancouver by 8 am and we arrived in Winston, Oregon at the gates of Wildlife Safari in time to drive through. This time they each had a brand new disposable camera to take pictures with as we drove into the park. Once again, they were just as mesmerized the second time as they had been the first time. This time we saw different animals; a lot of the same animals were out but we did see some that we had missed the first time through.

Since 1999, Wildlife Safari has become a favorite stop between San Jose and Portland. In fact, there have been several times when we drove from the San Francisco bay area to Wildlife Safari and back to California – a special trip to a special place. If I count back, I believe I have been to Wildlife Safari at least fourteen times! It has changed a lot since the first time we were there but it is still the same place with a lot of the same operating procedures. Some things have gotten better and some things have gotten commercial (for example, they now have “encounters” where you can get up close and personal with some of the animals for an extra fee) but it is still a wonderful experience! And now my grandchildren are enjoying it, too.
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Blogging From A to Z

When I was around nine years old (around 1964), my dad went to go see about a car he wanted to buy. We had a family car but he wanted to get a car for him to drive to work in so that the family car would “last longer”. Besides, he explained, my oldest brother would be driving in another year so it would be good to start looking for a car that he could drive to work so that my brother could drive my mom around town. She didn’t drive so when she had to go some place, she would walk. Sometimes that meant walking or riding the bus across town with sick kids in tow or sometimes it meant having to walk home from the doctor way after it was dark. My dad worked in a cannery so in the high season (May through November) he often had to work late into the night, until all the trucks coming in and going out had been unloaded and loaded.

A few hours after he left, he came home with a new car. It was a little Volkswagen beetle. It was from being new. It needed paint. It had some bumps and bruises and the interior was well worn. He had gotten a good deal on it and it was very cheap on gas so he was happy. We all thought it was a great car. It was cute. It was new to us. It was different from anything we had ever driven in. We all ran out to the driveway to see the car and we all wanted to go for a ride. So we all piled in the car…all NINE of us. My youngest sister sat on my mom’s lap in the front seat and the other six of us sat on laps in the back seat. Off we went! When we were only about two miles away from home my dad realized that the gas tank was almost empty. We had to get gas or we would end up walking home. Luckily, there was a small gas station a block away (the Spartan gas station which was still standing the last time I was in town around six or so years ago).

There was just one problem. My dad didn’t have any money on him and my mom had left without her purse so she had no money. My dad found about thirty-five cents in his pocket and my oldest brother had fifteen cents. Between the nine of us we managed to come up with something like 78 CENTS for gas. When the young man came to the window, my dad said he needed 78 cents of gas. Seeing the incredulous look on the kid’s face as he took in the back seat packed with kids sitting on each other, my dad added that the car wasn’t ours. We were just test driving it. The kid pumped the gas and cleaned the windows. My dad waved him away from checking the oil and said it was fine as he handed the young man the 78 cents for the gas.

Taking the money, the kid looked at my dad and said, “Sir, I think maybe you should look for a bigger car.” My dad nodded and we drove off with a straight face. It was only when we drove out of the driveway that we all cracked up at the look on the kid’s face as he counted the nine bodies packed like sardines in the back of the little white Volkswagen beetle. I’m sure the kid could hear us laughing blocks away!

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Blogging From A to Z

When I was a little girl, around three years old, I spent a lot of time being sick. There were lots of doctor visits, lots of medicines, and a lot of trips to the hospital. I had a lot of pain in my throat and it seemed like it was always sore, like I always had a cold. Finally, Dr. Johnson told my mother that it was time to get my tonsils take out. I would have to go to the hospital to have an operation. My parent’s had insurance for it but because I was so young, the insurance said they would not cover the surgery until they got another doctor to examine me and say the same thing so I had to go to more doctors and more visits and be sick some more.

Then one day my mother got a phone call from the hospital. It was okay for me to have the operation. For several days, my parents took me shopping at night time, after my father was home from work. I got a little suitcase made of wood with colored pegs and a little hammer. It had a chalkboard too. It was mine. I did not have to share it with my sisters. It was for me to take to the hospital with me. I also got a pink nightgown and a pink robe to take to the hospital. I think there were new slippers and I know there was a new blue hairbrush. All these things were for me. All for me. No one else. Just for me. I was feeling really special to be getting the operation.

On the day of the operation, my father had to work so my mother and I walked to the bus stop and took the bus downtown. We had some breakfast and then we got on another bus that left us closer to the hospital. By the time we got to the hospital, it was almost the night time. After we waited a long time, they took me to a little room where there were only doctors and nurses. My mom could not go in with me. The doctor told me to look up at the ceiling at a large circle that was like a light but it had no light coming from it. I was supposed to look at it and count backwards from 100 but I didn’t know my numbers so I was confused. Just a couple of numbers later, I was asleep and I didn’t know what happened until I woke up in a room in a crib with a lot of ladies in it.

That night, after work and after dinner, my mom and dad came to see me at the hospital. They brought me a little doll that was going to stay with me and sleep at the hospital when they left. I liked the doll but when it was time for them to leave me and go back home to my brothers and sisters, I gave the doll back to my mom so she could take it back to the store because I wanted to go home with her. My mom’s pretty green eyes were wet and she smiled and said I had to stay there overnight but that if I was a good girl, I could go home in a day or two. My mom and dad kissed me and hugged me and as they turned and waved at me from the door, I smiled at them but I was crying. I smiled at them because I didn’t want my mommy to cry. I didn’t want her to see me cry so I just smiled at them and waved with one hand and wiped the tears away with the other hand.

That night, after they left and after all the ladies in the beds around me were sleeping, I cried. Being in the hospital was not fun anymore. I didn’t want to stay there. I wanted to go home and I wanted my mommy.

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