Sunday, August 17, 2014

Looking back with a giggle

My sister Alyx and her husband Virgil live in their RV in our backyard. This has been going on for three months and is likely to continue for at least another eight. We split the utilities and the use of the washer and dryer and they use the downstairs bathroom. My sister and I chat for a bit nearly every day, and the four of us share a meal a couple of times a week. Otherwise, we're two households sharing a plot of land.

Alyx is seven years younger than me (she was born on my seventh birthday), so she and I have some separate memories. I remember neighborhood gatherings at summer dusk in Quantico, Virginia and my father's work parties where the families gathered and the wasps hovered over open cans of beer and soda. Alyx wasn't born yet. She remembers times in high school when she'd send a friend into the living room to talk to my parents, diverting them while she raided the kitchen cupboards. I was away at college by then so I don't remember.

We do have some shared memories, though. Family Christmases and vacations - for better or for worse, school plays (we were both in the cast of The Sound of Music in my junior year of high school; she played Brigitta and I was Leisl). My mother's poodles and their puppies. Dad wearing black shoes and socks to the beach.

And more recent memories: scattering my mother's ashes off the stern of a cruise ship, anticipating they'd trail out behind the vessel near the Bay of Fundy (they blew back onto the two-story restaurant window instead). A bus ride in Montreal where I inexplicably got off at a stop without telling the rest of them and they scrambled to catch up. The time I backed down their driveway in Crestline, California in a rental car, slid on the ice, dented their mailbox and ripped the side mirror from the vehicle. We all laugh every time we talk about these stories.

They laugh harder when I admit for the umpteenth time that I am an excellent driver except for the seven times I have backed into another vehicle or a post in a parking lot. The one in Crestline was about the fourth; the most recent was last December in Hawaii. My husband Art continues to remind me that I need to look back when I'm backing up so I'll see vehicles or objects that appear out of the blue. Apparently the rest of them are far more  astute in the backing category.

Until today. Art had backed our manual-transmission pickup down our steep driveway to unload a barbecue and food left over from a group picnic. Today he decided to move the truck to the back yard. In the brake-shift-accelerator process, the vehicle slid the final foot down the driveway, hit the barbeque and bent it, and shattered the truck's left taillight. Then the accelerator kicked in and the tires screeched as the truck ascended the driveway. It was a noisy event. Alyx and I were in the garden, heard it, and got the giggles. We wanted to be kind to Art as he stomped around and not say anything, and that made it even funnier.

The cool part is that Art's driveway episode will be added to our joint memory of things to laugh at.

Looking back, you know, and giggling.

10 comments:

Olga Hebert said...

That is always the fun of family get togethers--laughing at the family stories.
I personally make a mission out of never having to back up my car in parking lots--not always possible, but I try.

DJan said...

My sister who died this past February was seven years younger than me. Not born on my birthday, though. She was young enough that we don't share many memories of growing up. Sorry to hear about that mishap, but perhaps it wasn't too awfully bad, if you were giggling about it afterwards. :-)

Meryl Baer said...

Glad you could laugh about the incident immediately! I once pulled out of the driveway, hit our second car, but continued on to work (I was late, which of course was why I was careless and hit the car in the first place). I called him from work...

dkzody said...

Sorry to hear about your husband's driving mishap, but it sounds like nothing was too badly hurt except his pride. We have recently had a rash of car accidents here in Fresno caused by people thinking their car was in reverse or drive when it was just the opposite. A few people have been badly hurt and property destroyed. It makes me think more about my own driving and especially about looking closely when backing up.

Terra said...

Oh my, another backing up mishap to be added to your memory store. How nice your sis is living right near by for a while.

Mona McGinnis said...

So many things from this post resonated with me. I'm always struck by the difference in our memories of an event, even when I'm sure we were all witness, my 2 sisters and I. Different perspectives and all. Recently I participated in the placement of my aunt's ashes at 2 different lakes. I anticipate a different response to those sites, knowing that her ashes have been physically placed there combined with the happy emotions linked to the memories. And finally, my mother's comments after driving into the side of the house when she had stepped on the accelerator vs the brake. She said, "I didn't tell anyone about it until I could laugh like everyone else."

Dee said...

Dear Linda, I so enjoyed this posting. My brother, who is younger than I, also has different memories from mine of growing up with Mom and Dad.

You know your final statement really is so true. The being able to take something and make it into a funny story is such a gift! Peace.

Arkansas Patti said...

Ok, all of these were a form of disaster but really quite funny. I got the funeral parlor giggles at the spreading of ashes mishap, possibly because when I tried to put Dad to sea, the wind went the wrong way and I wore most of him.
This was a fun post.

Linda Reeder said...

There is no one to giggle with quite like a sister!

Deb Shucka said...

How wonderful that you have this amazing adult relationship with your sister. My brothers lived their adolescence after I'd left home and the stories they tell make me laugh ( and a little envious).