Memories of a Lifetime

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In which I invent a game whose name never dies

Another important part of my extended family when I was growing up was my Uncle Ned and his family, my Aunt Jean and my cousins Rachel, who is 4 years younger than I am, and Tom who is about 7 years younger than I am.

I am told I attended Ned and Jean's wedding, but I don't really remember much about it except that Mother made Leah and I matching off-white or yellow dresses with jackets, I think, (think Michelle Obama's inaugural gear) and we had to wear little white gloves. I do remember using Aunt Jean as a "lovey", she had the softest skin. I would sit next to her and just feel her arm for hours it seemed and she would always let me. My mom would say "Jeannie, if she's bothering you just make her get up," and Jean would say "She's fine." And I would be until I got bored and wandered off to find something else to do.

Rachel was the cutest little baby and toddler. The family has many stories of precocious things she did when she barely walking and talking. We have super-8 film of her shaking her diapered booty at Daddy's camera. She has an ornery streak that runs through our family like a golden thread. It turns those of us who have it into charming and funny leader-types. Those of us who have it don't turn against those who don't (well, usually), we just work with them to bring out their latent charm. When we are all together, watch out! The jokes and puns fly freely, along with flights of fancy having to do with absent family members, mutual friends and mutual enemies.

When we would go to visit Ned and Jean on a weekend night so the parents could play cards, Leah would stay downstairs and watch TV or read while I would go upstairs to Rachel's room where she, Tom and I would play. Tom was an introverted child. I fell in love with him one morning when I spent the night with Rachel. Tom loved music. He would take anything handy (throw pillows, record albums, the record itself, etc.) in his hands and sing the words to the tunes he'd learned from his father's records as he spun the object round and round in his hands. He was the record player. He would not only sing, but do the drum parts, the brass or whatever other instrumental parts there were. He was a genius. Anyway, on this particular occasion, I woke up early and heard him singing. I sneaked out of bed and into his room, where he was sitting in his crib. He had a stuffed toy in his hands that he was turning round and round as he softly sang a song that he had made up for their cat. I sat and listened and watched for a while, and then we started playing together...I think we played the baby gravity game, where the baby throws something out of his crib and the other person picks it up and throws it back. We did that for a while, quietly, until the rest of the family got up and his mom took over. We've been friends ever since.

Anyway, on these weekend nights we'd go upstairs to play. I was probably 9, so Rachel was 5 and Tom 3 or 4. Rachel and I played pretty well, Barbies and whatnot, but with the smaller child, we had to come up with something we could all play together. One night, and I don't know how, I hit on the idea of playing a game named "Windstorm in the Closet". Pretty simple game, really. We hauled everything out of the floor of the closet, climbed in and I proceeded to spin out a tale of a terrible windstorm on the way and the only place we had to hide was this closet.

They LOVED it. We played that whole night. Next time we went over they were clamoring for me at the door "let's go play windstorm in the closet!" I remember Ned looking kinda quizzically at me and I kind of shrugged in a grown up way and we went upstairs to play. I think the adults were grateful we had come up with something that kept the kids out of their way so they could play cards in peace without constant interruptions.

Only problem is, the game, instead of being left behind with the other detritus of childhood, has never died! Every time there's a bad storm, with wind, one of us will contact the other and say "hey, that was some windstorm last night, wasn't it?", or "wow, did you hear about that terrible windstorm in Arkansas yesterday?". Then we all laugh as though we just made the funniest joke in the history of humor. Back in the 70's when a tornado wiped out most of Xenia Oh, it wasn't a tornado, it was a windstorm. Last fall, when the hurricane came inland and still had high winds when it got to Dayton, it wasn't the wind from the hurricane, it was a windstorm - a terrible windstorm at that.

Nice in a way, that a spur of the moment game invented to keep the grown ups from yelling at us to stay quiet turned into a shared bit of history that only the 3 of us really understand.

3 Comments:

Blogger Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Indeed. But, I think that's part of our charm as an extended family. We hold on to those things that are important - usually because they made us laugh - and let go of the rest.

April 11, 2009 6:53 AM  
Blogger gabriella said...

She has an ornery streak that runs through our family like a golden thread. It turns those of us who have it into charming and funny leader-types. Those of us who have it don't turn against those who don't (well, usually), we just work with them to bring out their latent charm. When we are all together, watch out! The jokes and puns fly freely, along with flights of fancy having to do with absent family members, mutual friends and mutual enemies.


Why I an sure I cant think of what you could be referiing...snicker..."you have an acne pimple"

April 12, 2009 11:41 AM  
Blogger Claudia said...

jeebus, we really *do* read each other's minds, don't we?

April 13, 2009 5:46 PM  

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