Have you ever had an itch, a physical itch that is, and could not scratch it? If you’ve ever had a mosquito bite, then you know how irritating an itch can be. Now multiply that itchiness by ten. Now you will get the feel of the story I am about to share.
When I was a little girl, my older sister and I spent the majority of our playtime outdoors. We loved playing in the acres and woods surrounding our home. It was much cooler in the woods during the summer than anywhere else. So many beautiful old trees gave us the shade we craved. We would pretend to be on an expedition, searching the woods for something we had never seen before or lost treasure. One year I found much more than I bargained for. I found Poison Ivy.
I must have been around six years old. I’m sure my parents had warned me about this evil plant, but somehow I had walked through it unknowingly. My sister had missed it because she was fine. I, on the other hand, broke out in the most horrific red rash from my chest down. I remember my mother undressing me and gasping at how bad my skin looked. I didn’t care how it looked; I worried more about the awful ITCH!
The itch from H, E, double hockey sticks is how I remember it. Being a young kid, things always seem much worse than they are, but I really do think that itch was as bad as it felt. My Mama covered me in that pink lotion that is supposed to give relief. It felt good while she carefully put it on with soft cotton balls. Being careful to dab and not rub, as to spread the poison. But as soon as the pink, chalky liquid dried, the itching came right back. All I could think of was how much I wanted to scratch every inch of my body from the chest down.
My mother was adamant, DO NOT SCRATCH! I remember thinking that I had to do as my Mama said. She always knew best, and I always tried to mind her. But this was ridiculous. The discomfort was so intense it was making me cry. Surely Mama didn’t understand the severity of what I was feeling.
I realized years later that my mother was not trying to make me feel worse but was attempting to keep me from making the rash spread. The look on her face told me that she felt awful for me. It hurt her that she could do nothing to soothe my pain and give me relief.
After suffering for several days, with no relief to be found, I heard Mama talking to one of my aunts on the phone. She often called on her sisters for advice when one of her children was sick. They were all older than her and had already experienced much with their own kids. This aunt gave her a recipe for a concoction to be used as a wash for my rash. She told her that it would “kill” the poison. I remember the recipe called for something called Sulfur powder. It also called for apple cider vinegar. Mama sent Daddy to the store for the Sulfur powder right away.
Mama undressed me and stood me in the bathtub. The concoction smelled terrible. I was frightened. Needless to say, when that Sulfur and vinegar hit my skin, the itching was instantly gone. It was, however, replaced with the feeling that I was literally on fire!
I look back now and think, “my poor mama .”I can only imagine, now that I’ve been a mother too, how much it hurt her to see me in so much discomfort. At the time, I felt as though I was being tortured. I was standing still in that bathtub as what felt like hot lava was being poured over my body. But guess what? The stinky potion worked! It dried up my rash, and I no longer itched.
I was one cautious kid from then on when outdoors. I didn’t touch any weeds of any kind. And my daddy felt so bad for what I went through that he went into the woods searching for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak and eradicated it! I’m sure that was no small feat, but I had a very good daddy. And Mama too, that’s for sure.
I made a couple of best friends this summer. I don’t really have a lot of friends, and I have been praying to God to help me find a decent, true, and genuine, Christian friend. Now, I think I have found two! One is Hannah. I have known her for quite some time. Our moms are best friends, and they once went to a work-related party. They brought both of us to it, and that is how we met. At first, we didn’t talk at all. Then, maybe thirty or forty minutes later, we started talking to each other. We were running around and having a blast with each other before I realized it.
I think the next time we saw each other was at our church. Afterwards we went to eat at a restaurant together. We had a great time and pleaded with our parents for a sleepover together. They said not right then, but maybe another day. Later on, we met with them again and had a sleepover at my house. We had a great time! I loved hanging out with her, so I invited her for another sleepover on my birthday. Let me tell you guys, she loves to play Mario Kart. It was late; I was tired, and she still wanted to play. I enjoyed playing it with her, though. It was fun. It’s kind of our thing at my house.
Not too long after, we stopped talking to each other and lost touch again. I am very shy, so when I saw her at church, I was nervous about reconnecting. Most of the time I never know what to say, but I really wanted to hang out and continue talking. I’m not sure why we didn’t. We finally got back together after a long time away from each other and I stayed at her house, but yet we drifted apart again.
We finally got together after watching some kids together at church. This only happened a few weeks ago and now we are best friends. I’m not sure how to put it, but I believe this is the closest we’ve ever been since we met. Last week we spent almost the entire time together. One day we went to the pool, and she spent the night at my house. Then I joined her at church and stayed at her house for a night or two. I went home for a day and then to the lake the next day, and I stayed at her place once again. Because I had never seen the entire film before, we watched the movie Titanic. We had a great time, and I loved us hanging out.
I’m thrilled, and to be honest, this is the happiest I’ve felt in a long time. It’s nice to have someone who will call me as soon as I wake up and talk to me all day when I’m bored. She will tell me something big that happened to her and trust me to keep it a secret. We tease each other and annoy one another for fun. Hannah has become one of my closest friends, and I hope we never lose touch.
Katie is my other friend, whom I met for the first time a few weeks ago. She is awesome! I’ve only hung out with her twice, but she is pretty cool. She is really nice and welcoming. The first time we met I was too shy to talk, but she didn’t care and invited me to join in whatever she was doing. She made me feel confident in being myself. Just yesterday we talked on the phone for almost four and a half hours! We watched a movie together while on the phone, which is funny to think about. I may not fully know Katie, but I would consider her a very close friend. I would also like to point out that she is one hard worker.
I love you, Hannah, and Katie. I hope we don’t drift apart.
⚽ It is well known that writers make grammatical “mistakes”. It happens to us all, regardless of our efforts not to. For centuries, we have searched for a gender neutral missing third-person pronoun. that could be used in place of he or she when gender is unknown or irrelevant. Grammarians have always insisted that it is plural, but more and more it has become accepted to use “they” as a substitute for the singular he/she. Personally, I have used it in that way for several years, knowing it was plural, but ignoring my college English teacher’s admonishment against doing so. I believe that most of us can find instances in our life where we ignored accepted practices and discovered later that what we did previously had become outdated. For example, most people believe that it is better to read a book than listen to an audiobook, but today it is a fact that more people listen to audiobooks. In the past, most people kept up with what was happening in the world by reading newspapers and today most people get their news online. Now, most of us file our taxes electronically, whereas in the past we used paper forms and struggled with tax codes. Yup, times have changed, and we need to change with it. I now feel comfortable using “they”. Times have changed!
⚽ “Now that I’m old, my teachers are the young”… Robert Frost
Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He died in 1963 at age 88, and he was known for his depiction of rural life. How odd it is that back then (‘40s &’50s) he thought adults could learn from the young, because I grew up during that time and adults, in my experience, paid little heed to the young. I’m not saying we weren’t loved, but that we had very little influence on adults. I do think the current generation of adults are influenced by the young. We have high school students lobbying for gun control laws, Greta Thunberg (age 15) of Sweden is lobbying in behalf of climate control All Over the World and as I watch the evening news, I see young people trying to make their voices heard everywhere. The Democrats currently have a relatively young gay man (Pete Buttigieg, age 38) running for their party’s presidential nomination. John F. Kennedy was our youngest president at age 43. You must be at least 35 years of age to run for that office.
So, yeah, I think young people influence us, and in more ways than we think. While in my twenties I cursed often, influenced by coworkers, but believing I could avoid those words at home around my two young children. Well, it eventually happened at home and seeing the bewildered look on my 6-year-old daughter’s face, convinced me to change my ways. I never had that kind of influence on my dad 😊. An old Swedish Proverb says, “Being young is a fault that improves daily”.
⚽ My wife and I went to her post-op (post operation) visit with her surgeon two weeks after her operation on January 21st to reattach her colon & small intestine. I asked him at what point could we feel safe about the reattachment not leaking and he replied, “Very rarely at this stage does that happen, I would say once in a blue moon”. I know that a “Blue Moon” is two full moons within one month and it only happens every 2-3 years (It happens again on October 31). That made us feel a lot better because the elephant in the room was whether this could go south quickly and without any advance notice? Later, while pondering his “Blue Moon” statement, I wondered about other colloquialisms. As a kid, I was told, “You can wait until the cows come home”, meaning wait until it happens and that may take a while. If Mom wanted to get something done quickly, she would tell me to “juice it up a little”. She would also admonish me when I was in trouble, “You’re in a pickle now”. That normally meant she was going to tell Dad of my offense when he got home from the coal mines and he was going to give me a “whuppin”. I recall one time that my brother and I got into some mischief and she waited until we all sat down at the supper table and told him. He firmly informed us that after we finished our meal, he would take us to the bathroom for a whipping (that’s always where the dastardly deed was done). We ate every morsel of food on the table and that amused my father so much that he broke out in laughter and the lashing was avoided. He was never very good at whipping my brother and I, seems he just didn’t have the heart to do it. I can only recall him doing that twice in my life and I deserved both.
To clear up the “Supper” thing; in the mountains of Virginia when I was a youth, we ate breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper (dinner). We carried our groceries in a “poke” (bag) and bought bottles of “pop” (sodas). If you were afraid to fight another kid, you “chickened out”. I kinda miss hearing those old expressions, but when I go back home every summer, those words are like music to my ears, reminding me of the kid I was all those long years ago, and how much I love the people that still use them. If I had to draw a picture of my hometown, it would have to be drawn on my heart.
⚽ Students are over 4 times more likely to drop out of school if they are unable to read proficiently by the 3rd grade. I ran across that fact a few days ago and was dumfounded. I know that by the time I was in the 3rd grade I had a stack of comic books that were waist high. Our little two room grade school didn’t have a library, so the only reading material available were comic books. If I came across something I couldn’t pronounce, or understand, I went running to my mother with my index finger firmly glued to the offending word. By age 9 (1950), I felt I had mastered the art of reading😊. I recall that in one comic book the person was watching TV, and I wondered “what in the heck is a TV”? I also remember reading Dick Tracy in the Sunday Comics and being amazed when he would talk to someone far away by speaking into his watch. It took about seventy years for that to happen. With all the opportunities to read now, it’s inconceivable that our young children cannot read well. I do believe the ability to read is a cornerstone for success in life. I have only known three people that were illiterate. One was very successful, one lived comfortably, and the other one depended on her husband for her livelihood. I believe it is important to stress the importance of an education to our young people. Likely, today’s environment demands a college education to live a fulfilling life, but it is not impossible to make a good living minus a college degree. It just makes it infinitely harder to accomplish.
How do we help our young people get their education without incurring a mountain of debt? Well, immediately after WWII, we allowed all ex-servicemen to attend 4 years of college under the GI Bill for free. That investment in America’s future paid dividends, so why can’t we do something similar now? Allow each high school graduate the opportunity to get 4 years of college for 2 years of community service in their chosen field immediately afterwards. Failing to do so would require repayment of the cost of their education. Also, if the student dropped out of college before completion, they would have to repay their educational cost to that point. I’m confident the law would have to be more complex than what I’ve described, but smarter people could surely come up with a viable plan.
Alice James said, “I wonder whether if I’d had an education I should have been more or less a fool than I am,”. You know, I sometimes wonder that same thing! 😊