I’m writing my memoir:
She said take a deep breath and remember a person, an incident, a thing; let your mind free float.
I saw my life as drips of an icicle as it thawed.
I saw the creek across from our house. I saw myself sitting on a rock with my knees tucked up under my chin. Minnows swimming around, darting here and there.
My best friend Sammy, six years old at the time, is catching little trout only a few inches long; I insist he put his catch in a bucket of water. Sammy, continues to fish. I listen to the water trickle and babble as it rolls over the rocks. It runs confidently and quickly downstream. To the sides of the stream, pockets of still water pool where more minnows gather and play.
My mother appears carrying old milk bottles filled with tea. She bends down to the water and picks up rocks placing them in a circle to make a little corral so the bottles won’t wash down stream. The cool water, on a hot summer afternoon, does the work of a modern-day refrigerator. She stands up, straightens her dress around her legs. The blue cotton garment gives accent to her beautiful auburn hair. Before she leaves, she slips off her shoes, and just for a moment, she walks ankle deep into the cool refreshing water.
Autumn arrives and the reservoir my father made to damn up the water so it could run through lengths of pipe to our house gets plugged with leaves and debris. He hoists himself up onto the edge of the reservoir’s cement wall. He reaches way down. The water is up to his shoulders as he blindly searches with his hands for the plug. He pulls out the plug, removes the debris, replaces the plug. Once again, the water from the creek runs through the pipes to our house; we can make tea!
“Leave the water running a little in the kitchen sink when you go to bed”. Words of my parents. In the cold of winter if we let the water trickle, it would prevent the water pipes from freezing. Against all precaution, sometimes the water still froze and my mother and father would walk, in the bitter cold, one quarter of a mile up the hill to the reservoir where they would dig down through the frozen ground. They’d use a blow torch to thaw the pipes.
I was nine years old, and very sick with rheumatic fever. In the middle of the night, a big boulder came crashing through our back door. Water rushed in the back door, through my bedroom, through the kitchen and with another loud crash out through the wall at the other end of the house.
Father and his friends worked through the night to stop the raging flood waters. The morning after, there was a hush, all was quiet and calm.
Father lifted me from my bed, and carried me outside to where a bulldozer waited.
It wangled, swerved, and turned, down the hill to where a car was waiting to take me to the hospital. The road was completely washed away, there were huge crevasses in the ground. Our home was destroyed. A new house was built and a new road was made. The creek ran a new course.
I’m a grandmother now and decades have passed. There has been sickness, separation, and loss. There has been birth, blessings and growth. The movement of the creek with its lifegiving water, the calm after the ravage of flood, gives reassurance and resilience. All is well. Where there is life there is hope.