Family never forgets anything

The greatest thing about family is they’ve known you longer than you’ve 6-25 Page 4A.inddknown yourself. That’s where some of your earliest memories begin, because they’re not really your memories.

You think you remember these things, but actually you’ve heard the stories so many times they have become embedded in your memory bank.

Every time my family gets together we hear the stories. And the stories all begin the same way — “Do you remember the time?” And it goes from there.

I don’t remember the time my brother threw a toy truck at me and split my lip. The story has been told and retold and I have the scar from the episode but don’t actually remember the incident.

I do remember when we were small children how he decided to give himself a haircut without benefit of a mirror, and upon seeing the results of his handiwork put on a hat and hid in the woods. A good decision, as Mama wasn’t pleased with his new ragged and partially bald look.

My cousin Gwynne tells the sad story of the baseball game we were all playing in which she was batting, Matt was pitching and I was the catcher. She was 12, Matt was 11 and I was almost 9 years old.

Now this incident I remember clearly. She got a solid hit off a fast ball and slung the bat as she took off for first.

Perhaps I was a little too close to home plate, because the bat hit me with full force in the mouth, breaking off one of my front teeth.

I was stunned and didn’t realize what had happened until I was able to catch my breath to scream. When the air hit the exposed nerve I instantly knew something uncommon had happened and it wasn’t good.

I remember the excitement, the trip to the dentist, the guilt-stricken Gwynne and the sobbing bundle that was me in the backseat with my poor Aunt Caroline packing us all into the car for the journey.

We all remember the rock battle when John was knocked unconscious. And the time we slid Bill out onto the frozen pond to test the ice for safety.

After all, he was all of 4 years old and the lightest among us. The plan was to see if the ice held him and then to throw John, next heaviest, out to see if it held him.

We didn’t get to test the ice beyond Bill’s trip out, as he immediately fell through about four feet from shore and we had to run out to drag him in to safety. Fortunately the pond wasn’t too deep for us to reach him at that point.

He had on his heavy winter clothes, as did we. We were soaked to our waists, and he was like a frozen drowned rat.

We hauled him, shivering, up to the house, dragged him into the bedroom, stripped him and redressed him in dry clothes, changed clothes ourselves, hid all the wet and muddy evidence in the corner of the closet, swore him to secrecy and then went merrily about our business.

We were a busy bunch, and I really don’t know how our grandmother survived us. Fortunately, she was a fortress of calm in a stormy sea and had already seen almost everything children could get up to, as our parents had blazed the trails of adventure before us.

These stories, and many more, bind us together as a family. They are part of who we are and may live beyond us, probably growing bigger in the telling. But that’s the way of my family. They all like to spice up the story, although there are times when it isn’t even necessary. The stories are interesting enough on their own.