Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Family

New Family
When my Dad first told me that he was marrying a second time, I remember a moment of dread. I was worried that she was going to replace my Mom. Common enough thought for a child. Now I look upon that day as a great blessing from God. Every child needs a mother figure in their life and she fit the bill perfectly. I am not saying everything was always rosy, that would be a lie. It is always difficult for children who come from a broken home to adjust to having two parents in the home again. We all butted heads many times throughout my childhood, what family doesn't though?
Mandy was a nurse. She made sure that we understood that she was not in anyway trying to take the place of our mother, she wanted us to call her Mandy and not Mom. Mandy was a great mother, but we were not afraid to push buttons. I know I could often be cruel growing up as well, my mouth has always gotten me in more trouble than anything else, well that and my short temper. I remember saying that I hated her, and that she wasn't my mom so I didn't have to listen to her. I would always regret these things, the moment they left my mouth, but was always too proud to apologize (a problem I still suffer with).
Back to the wedding, I don't remember much about it as I was only four at the time. It was at Minter Gardens, a beautiful place that Mandy's parents lived close to so we would walk through there at times growing up. I also remember being quite upset and jealous that Alvin got to be a ring bearer and I had to just sit and watch, so I was not in the best of moods that day.
After the wedding we moved to a duplex on Logan Road, which is on the other side of Agassiz. While there we attended the Agassiz Christian School, where my first huge crush took place. She was a beauty whom I stole my first kiss from in Kindergarten, just to make a neighbor boy who always hung out with her jealous. For that the teachers made me sit on my hands for the whole lunch hour, but it was worth it, a body never forgets their first kiss right? Think my kindergarten teacher's name was Rask, as I recall us calling her Mrs. Rats. I know children are cruel. She had to call my Dad into school one time as I refused to do skipping rope. I thought it was only for girls, I got in trouble and ended up skipping rope. I am not sure of the exact timing, but know that it was during grade one that we transferred to Kent School in Agassiz. I recall hating this school. 
Mandy always loved both dogs and horses. She had a horse at a stable nearby, and her toy poodle. I recall two things about this first horse. One is that Alvin was riding it one time and fell off the horse, I don't remember him being hurt or any other details about it, just that he fell off. I also recall Mandy having an injured foot after this horse stepped on her and crushed her foot. Not sure what happened to this horse, but I know it was shortly after that that she got a new horse. This horse we kept at the farm of a family from our church in Harrison (a beautiful tourist town nearby that I recommend visiting).
It was at this farm that I remember being taught how to feed a horse properly by hand. It was a lot of fun. I also recall playing with cats and kittens in their barn. One kitten in particular captivated our hearts. He was handicapped and couldn't walk properly, he stumbled everywhere he walked. He would never survive on a farm, so we were able to take him home. We called him Snickers, I am not sure why, just that that was his name. I remember a few things about this cat. One was that he could not crap in the litter box without getting it all up the wall and on the floor. Two was that you had to watch your feet whenever walking by our couch from the moment he entered our home. He would squeeze himself under our couch and claw any feet that came near. It could be painful at times, but it always made us laugh. The third thing I remember was that Snickers would always switch food bowls with OJ, Mandy's toy poodle. They could never eat from their own bowls, like us humans the grass was greener on the other side. Sadly this cat could not travel with us to Saskatchewan when we moved. It went to a lady with many cats that she found good homes for.
I also remember walking down the road from the farm, where pears grew in a tree by the road, so you could eat fresh pears. As well as the blackberry bushes that grew nearby and the creepy spiders we'd find in the bushes. This wasn't unusual though, blackberries grew wild in the ditches everywhere in the Fraser Valley area.
Let's go now to the house on Logan Road. I had many friends here. There was a girl across the street that we were on again-off again friends with. I remember getting into lots of trouble around her. She watched as I cut big chunks out of my hair, showing her I could be my own barber. What a disaster that was! I will simply let Shila cut my hair now! I also remember getting in a pebble fight with her at the nearby park, for which I got a much-deserved spanking. I remember also collecting shiny pebbles with her as we both thought they were the coolest thing. The neighbor family in the other half of our duplex would often play road hockey with us in their driveway. On one such occasion their dad played with us and he accidentally tripped me, so I got up and slashed his shins as hard as a could. Surprise, surprise I got a spanking for that, I believe I had to stand in the corner as well, but I could be wrong. Then there was Alvin's good friend Matt who often came over. He lived just up the street. I didn't really get along well with him, but hung out anyways as he was always around Alvin. Recall two things about this boy. One was that I got in trouble for lying after they wouldn't follow the rules I made up and Mandy overheard me telling them that she said that they had to listen to my rules. Believe it or not, but I actually used to be a very good liar. Hard to believe now that I can't tell lies at all without smiling or laughing. The second thing I recall was a big pile of wood down the block, one side was beside the road, the other was covered in stinging nettles. We would play inside this fort, as there was a big clear space in the middle of the log pile. One time when we were playing my parents called us away from our fort as we had somewhere to go. Well I took a wrong step and fell into the nettle patch. Very unpleasant being covered in nettle stings from head to toe. Another event I recall from the duplex, is the time Alvin got his head cut up and needed stitches. We and a couple boys from school never once saw eye to eye (the younger brother was the one who always hung out with the girl I kissed in kindergarten). We were all throwing insults at each other near the park. They were on their bikes and carrying a beat up metal bucket. At one point they threw the bucket at us. It clipped Alvin on the forehead right above his eye. We all know how bad head wounds bleed. The boys took off on their bikes and I bawled and screamed more than Alvin did. He got stitches and their parents made the boys come over and apologize to us. I know I enjoyed that moment, seeing them humbled. Let's just say I gloated.
At some point while living on Logan road, I ended up with pneumonia. I found out at this point that I was allergic to Penicillin. I broke out in hives everywhere. Pneumonia killed my immune system and it has never been the same since. As a result I am always getting sick. Alvin and I also ended up with chicken pox at some point. As you all know, that isn't a lot of fun, relief came in the form of baths with baking soda.
I recall trips to Harrison Lake, where we would hike around the lake, including next to a hot pool that absolutely reeked of rotten eggs, I couldn't believe people actually came and bathed in there! My grandparents owned a cabin on the lake that we would visit and they had a boat. We would go fishing from the boat, but I don't remember much about these trips, just remember that they happened.
Sometime in here my grandparents sold their farm and moved to a beautiful acreage just outside of Cranbrook, BC. They came back for a funeral shortly after buying the property. While they were home a lightning strike nearly burned down their new home. Luckily the local firefighters didn't let the fire reach their home, but they lost a bunch of trees.
We would often hang out at my Aunt's place nearby. My younger cousin and I would hang out, while my older cousin and Alvin hung out. One of these times resulted in a boot or a pot ending up in a wasp nest, one of the four of us threw it there. Wasp stings aren't a lot of fun believe it or not, especially not when they are really mad. After they calmed down we got our revenge by drowning out their nest with a garden hose. Alvin and Jen also climbed to the very top of two tall trees after being forbidden to do so, which led to them getting in a lot of trouble. We always were a daring lot, especially Alvin and Jen. This house had a man's personal golf course next to it. He never collected his old golf balls, so we went about and took a bunch of them home.

When we moved to Saskatchewan it was a sad day, but was good for me. I had terrible allergies in BC. I remember one allergic reaction. It was on a trip to Vancouver. Acid rain struck when we were outside and my whole body broke out in rashes, apparently I was allergic.

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