Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday's Favorite - A Memory

I submitted my last essay for English Composition today, and I am so glad to be finished with that course. I thought it was coincidental that today's essay prompt went along with the Friday's Favorite theme:

What is your favorite childhood memory? Write a 500-word essay that explains why this memory is so special to you.

So I have decided to totally cheat, and post the essay I wrote. Please feel free to share your favorite childhood memory. (It doesn't have to be 500 words.)

In 1976, Hurricane Belle threatened the Jersey coast. I was 13 years old, and it was the first summer after my father left. My mother, younger sister, and I were still living in the same house, and we were still trying to figure out how things worked without my father around to take care of them. Even though there were lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins in the area (I have huge, close-knit family), my mother was determined to figure things out for herself.
When the warnings of a major storm could no longer be ignored, my mother pulled out the rickety old ladder, and attempted to replace the screens with the storm windows. It was my job to hang onto the ladder so that it wouldn’t wiggle in the wind and make her drop the glass. My sister was left to watch from the safety of the house. I remember learning several new words that day; words that I still have trouble crediting my mother with knowing.
Just about the time that we had finished, my grandmother called. Claiming that my grandfather was worried, Grandma made my mother promise to leave the house and go straight to their home where it would be safer. Apparently the fact that our house was several miles further inland had nothing to do with the relative safety of a newly-divorced woman and her children. Giving in, my mother loaded the two of us girls in the car and drove into the storm to my grandparents’ house.
Grandma was waiting for us when we arrived. We didn’t even have a chance to go inside before she was putting us back in the car for a quick road trip. Totally forgetting her worries about our safety, my grandmother drove us to the beach so that we could watch the storm. At one point we were stopped by a policeman who tried to persuade my grandmother that a mandatory evacuation of the coast meant that nobody was allowed to go to the beach. Quietly reaching over, Grandma pinched me. Then, pointing at my tears, she very calmly explained that we had forgotten my kitten. I’m sure that my pinch-induced tears immediately dried up at my wide-eyed astonishment at the news that I suddenly had a pet. But the policeman believed her, and my sister and I were able to watch Hurricane Belle toss the waves and sand until the pier was completely destroyed and the water was up at our feet. I can still picture the dark skies and the waves, and I remember hanging onto a lamp post as the wind picked up my feet. The drive back home, however, is a blur of flooded streets and further language lessons. My memory skips instead to being in my grandparents’ home, as the wind continued to shake the windows and we drank hot cocoa. I can still hear Grandma telling my mother, “Now, wasn’t that adventure worth it?”
For me, this story sums up the dynamics of my family. We cared about each other’s safety, even as we encouraged each other’s reckless insanity. And to answer my grandmother, yes, the adventure was worth it.

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