This is reposted from my other blog Mama’s Experience Initiative where it originally appeared. It is the inspiration for this current project.
As a kid I adored thunderstorms, still do. Something about the charge in the air makes me want to crank up the music and dance like nobody’s mother. I have a very vivid memory of thunderstorms as a kid back in our old red house near Interstate 90.
My brother was newly home from the Marines. I guess it was spring or summer and I couldn’t have been more than five. Our family, being sizable, constituted a party in sheer numbers. The mood was festive, my brother tall and muscular and commanding in his dress blues. (Mom loved to see him dressed so) He divvied out trinkets he’d gathered from his tour, answered the questions, ate the food, walked the walk.
What I remember so clearly was the descent of the evening storm–how we left the front door open and listened to the thunder rattle the metal screen. It seems there must have been some candles lit or an oil lamp preparing for a fight against the dark.
We didn’t use the living room much. The finished basement served as family room and main entertainment, but this night I was upstairs sprawled on the shag carpet. I counted pennies sprung from a glass jar, wishing money, he had saved for his youngest sister. What a normal, mundane family we felt like then.
They say that when my brother was over seas in Okinawa, I drew him pictures to go with every letter my mother wrote–all line drawings of a single person, naked, with belly-button featured prominently. He hung them on the wall of his barracks. That’s what they say.
The pennies rattled together competing with wind, thunder and a room full of people. Something other than a coin rolled from the jar big enough to excite a young girl living through her princess dreams. It could have been a gumball ring, he never said.
I love the memories of my family then. The house was full and moody. I could eat off recollections of camping trips and snow falls. Of course, it changed and sides were chosen, but for my part (the epilogue) I hold to the storms and count and sort like so many pennies in a jar.