Thursday, December 31, 2009

i ain't never birthed no puppies.....

aaaaaahh...september 29. as i remember, it started out like any other day around here. nothing really spectacular had occurred. until that night. the night that my home turned into a "dog house." our lab, zoe was pregnant and i wanted to find a book on what to expect when you're expecting puppies.  like the book they have for pregnant mothers.

i wanted to know what was in store, as "i ain't never birthed no puppies before." and the more i read, the more terrified i became. this was much, much worse than the book i read when i was expecting my first child. i was only having one baby. not anywhere from eight to fifteen! i needed things. you know, in case i was called on to "help" with the delivery. things like white towels and a thingy you suction their nose and mouth with. boiling water and forceps and a scapel in case i would need to perform an emergency c-section. i would need scales to weigh them and tags to label them and a "whelping box!" what in the world was a whelping box? a box to put the mother in when she starts writhing in agony? or, a box to put ME in, when i started writhing in agony? so, i sent micajah to wally world...for supplies. i sent him with a list. and on that list was a package of white cleaning cloths from the automotive section (i'm cheap and didn't want to buy white towels that i would never be using again) and if he couldn't find those, to go to the baby department and get a package of white cloth diapers. he calls me from inside the store.

mom, "i'm in the automotive section and they only have one package of white cloths and there are only three to a pack."
"well, that's not enough. go to the baby section and get the cloth diapers."

"i don't know what they look like, mom. where are they?"

 "they are in the BABY department. in a package. where all the other diapers are. just ask someone to show you where CLOTH diapers are."

"fine. whatever. i'm not going to ask somebody where diapers are. i'll find them. bye."

a few minutes later he arrives home. with these.

BWAHAHAHA! i asked him, "micajah, what am i supposed to do with these? these are pampers. am i supposed to put a pamper on each puppy? and besides that, they are jumbo size, for 35 lbs. and up!"

"well, i told you i didn't know what they looked like. you said cloth diapers. those are diapers...and they are made of cloth." this the way all seventeen year old boys think?

we were sitting on my bed, with zoe. not suspecting that she was in labor at that very moment. she wasn't pacing. or whining. or digging her nails into my wrist, like i did to micajah's father when i was giving birth. she just sat there, licking herself, the way dogs do all the time. and then there was a puppy coming out. and then there wasn't. she had eaten it before it was born. and i began to panic. THIS i had never heard of! i had a cannibalistic dog! i grabbed the laptop and did a few searches on dogs who were cannibals and learned that this was a totally natural thing. that dogs instinctively know when the puppy is stillborn or when it won't survive, and they eat it. and it is actually good for them. but it was not good for me! i was in full blown panic mode. we didn't even have the whelping box yet! what to do?

we layed some towels on the floor in my bedroom and put zoe on them and i got out the camcorder and the camera and we waited. for a long time. and nothing. micajah went on to bed and i was just sitting on my bed when i heard a single groan and then i saw movement. she had given birth to the second puppy and this one was alive. i yelled for micajah and we watched her clean the baby up and get the sac from around it's face. and a few minutes later, more licking, a glimpse of a puppy, and more puppy. another one stillborn. another panic attack from me. i thought birth was supposed to be a beautiful thing. this was not shaping up that way. about 30 minutes later she began the licking and then she jumped up and there was a baby trying to be born and she leaps up onto MY bed, walks around with this puppy hanging halfway out of her and then just sits down. on top of the puppy that is trying to make its way into the world. and hopefully, live here awhile. we managed to lay her down and "assist" her in getting the puppy out and she cleaned it and all was well.

to make this already getting long story a little shorter, i will just say that through the course of the night, until 6:00 the next morning, zoe labored and gave birth to 12 beautiful little puppies. there were no more stillborns. there was no emergency c-section. there was no whelping box.

but there was another kind of box. one that micajah built in our garage. to keep the puppies in so i wouldn't have to smell poop all day long. it was large enough to hold all 12 puppies as they grew...and until they went to their new homes.

 it was great too. or it was until they got big enough to be weaned and began eating real puppy food. then they would push their bowls all the way to the back of the pen.

which meant, of course, that this 50 yr. old woman had to climb over the front, which was built low enough for zoe to climb in and out, but still high enough that the puppies couldn't climb out. or that i couldn't lift my leg high enough to get over it easily. there were times when i would put one leg over, and get stuck. or i would get splinters in my hands trying to heave myself back over it. or in my backside when i just gave in and sat down to rest a minute. i just knew that one day i would slip and fall...into the pen. and into the poop and pee of 12 puppies. and lay there, unconscience, with the razor sharp nails of all those dogs digging into me. i had horrors of laying there for several days, bleeding, being wet on, until micajah got hungry enough to come in search of his mother who should have been placed on the missing persons list days before. had anyone missed me enough to place me there.

there were days through all these weeks of puppies, that i would cry out to God, "when will my life be normal again? when will i be able to have a conversation with humans again, instead of this dog language i had acquired while conversing with these animals? much like women who stay home with their children all day, longing for adult companionship. to hear words other than MOM, MAMA, MOMMY a million times in 24 hours. i began praying for the day these puppies could be listed on craigslist in search of a new home. i loved them. but keep in mind...i already had two yorkies, a cat and two ginormous labs. plus a teenager. a boy teenager. the food bill alone was killing me.

and finally. FINALLY the sun shined down on me and God spoke. He said, "today is the day." Oh, thank you, Lord. thank you. the puppies were placed on an ad and within three days, they all had new homes. the last to go to his new family was King Kong. the week before Christmas, he was going to be the biggest present under some little boys tree. i was ecstatic. i want to show you WHY the name King Kong...

the pen came down that very day. the wood went to the dump. the garage was cleaned out. the blankets were thrown away and my house was cleaned for company. my dog house had officially been DE-PUPPIFIED. and on its way to being a home again. for people.

a couple days later patrick, micajah's friend, came walking in my front door. with these words.

"hey mom, is Bailey pregnant?" (he just calls me mom because, well, he practically lives here.) (and Terri, if you're reading this, i mean that in a GOOD way! really. seriously. i love patrick.)

NOOOOOOOOOOO....this could not be happening to me. Lord, haven't i been good this year? haven't i done everything you asked of me? am i being punished for something? talk to me. please. talk to me. and He did. He told me that yes, indeed, bailey was pregnant. she's our "other" lab. zoe's sister. and we figured she would give birth sometime around the end of january.

Christmas Eve was last thursday. my son, christian, and his girlfriend, missy came up from florida for the holidays on wednesday. we got up thursday morning and went to one of the cemeteries to take pictures. we put zoe and bailey in the garage while we were gone. so they wouldn't terrorize the neighborhood (as my grumpy old neighbor likes to say.) we were going over to some friends house for dinner that night and when we got home i had some cooking to do and some presents to wrap. while i was in the process of doing just that, micajah came running into my room.

"mom, bailey is having her puppies. she already had some. come to the garage, QUICK!"

and sure enough, the dog that we had just found out was pregnant, was giving birth. once again, we weren't prepared. no whelping box. no clean, white towels, (diapers) no scapel or nose sucking thingy. she did it all on her own anyway. the first five puppies didn't survive. the last three she cleaned up and then she deserted them.

 i had to clean them off once she had gotten the sac off. she wouldn't nurse them. she wouldn't go anywhere near them. she kept trying to eat them. so micajah and christian rushed to petsmart and got the last two baby bottles and a can of milk replacement. and we took the puppies to our friends house with us. and we all took turns bottle feeding them.

ryan, my nephew

sarah, our pastors daughter

beverly and sarah, pastors wife and daughter

caleb, pastors son

that night i had to get micajah up every two hours to hold bailey down, so i could put the babies up to her and let them nurse.

i knew they needed their mothers milk and i knew that bailey needed the relief. but bailey didn't like it one single bit. she hated those puppies. Christmas morning we were like zombies. we went to my sisters for lunch, puppies in tow and it was clear by that afternoon that the puppies were not liking the bottles. or the milk. so that night i tied bailey up to my bedpost with her leash and had the puppies on the floor in a basket, by my side of the bed. when they cried, i held bailey down and put the puppies up to her and after about the fourth time she began licking them and cleaning them and that mama dog has just about licked the skin clean off those babies since then. she won't leave their side for a minute. her motherly instincts kicked in some 24 hours after giving birth and she went from total neglect to "i'll kill you if you try to hurt my babies" mode. (notice the one puppy, laying between her front paws and the other, between her back legs)

twelve three. and these three are already spoken for. and the mama's? oh, trust me. they will soon be on their way to the vet for a little ummmmmm...O-P-E-R-A-T-I-O-N.

i sometimes wonder WHY God allowed such a thing as this to happen to me. didn't i already have enough on my plate? was there a lesson here? well, of course there was. isn't there always, where God is concerned?


it's that simple. this verse comes to me time and time and time again. it's Gods way of reminding me to LET GO and LET GOD. i have a tendency to hand things over to God, only to snatch them back when i think i have a better plan. or i think He is not moving things along as fast i would like him too. having all these puppies to take care of in the midst of all that i am dealing with in my personal life, has taken some of the edge off. it has kept me focused on things other than myself and my problems. God could very easily have left me saddled with all those puppies. i would have had to take them to the pound where they would most likely have been put down. and then they would have needed to put me down. but God took care of the situation. he found new homes for all of them. with good people. and these last three?

they remind me of my own three boys. when you walk towards bailey and reach for one of the babies, she reaches her long legs out and gathers them to her. she looks up at you as if she's saying, "i dare you to hurt one of them."

that's how i feel about my boys. although they are all grown up now, and don't need my arms around them all the time, keeping them safe...that's the feeling in my heart whenever i see one of them. to want to protect them.

God has blessed me. tremendously. and i thank him for the lessons he teaches me on a daily basis.

and he answers prayers. whether we see the answer or not. it's always there.

oh. and one more lesson i learned through all this. puppy poop is hard to get out of most fabrics. i never knew that before. just saying.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Heroes...and a panty bomber there are two stories making headline news, both of which are the meat of this post. the first is a story of an american father, who was married and had a son. his wife leaves, with son in tow, to visit her homeland in brazil. her husbands understanding was that she would return in two weeks, however, that didn't happen. instead, she divorced him from brazil and kept their son away from him, eventually remarried and then was killed in an accident. leaving the boy with his step-father and his maternal grandparents. for five long years, this man fought the legal system, in two countries, to regain custody of his son. finally, after 5 long years, the father and son were reunited, after brazilian courts turned custody back over to him, and on christmas eve, they traveled back to new jersey, to begin the long process of becoming re-acquainted and putting their family back together again.

the second story is of a would-be terrorist, who is being dubbed "the panty bomber" by the press. he tried to blow up an airplane, filled with passengers, enroute to Detroit. his weapon of choice...a bomb. strategically placed in his underwear. his attempts were foiled, when a nearby passenger heard what sounded like firecrackers going off, and saw smoke rising from the man's lap. he leaped over the man sitting next to him and on top of the "panty bomber." he saved lives. and was burned himself, in the process.

you may wonder what in the world these two stories have to do with me. and why would either of them be the subject of one of my own stories. i will enlighten you.

in the first story, this father is to me...a hero. a man, who would travel to the ends of the earth to save his relationship with his son. a man, who has proved, time and time again, that there is NOTHING he wouldn't do to make that happen. i, personally, don't know ALOT of men who would do that.

most of you who are reading this, know that i am a christian. i have a pretty close relationship with God and strive each day, to draw even closer to Him. most of you also know that i am in the process of going through a divorce. my youngest son, micajah, is also in the process of going through a divorce. as much as some of us would like, these kinds of things do not affect just the husband and wife, but the children, the grandchildren, the in-laws, and even your friends. suddenly, everyone you thought loved you, feels they must "pick a side." one day you wake up and realize that this person you intended to spend the rest of your life a virtual stranger.

today, i am angry. today, i am sad and hurt and desperately need to pray. but, i can't pray. today is one of those days when the words just will not come. i know that in times like these, the Holy Spirit takes over for you and petitions God, the Father, on your behalf...but it makes me feel so inadequate. today, i find myself slipping back into the hole...alone and scared and without answers.

who was this man i was married to for almost 18 years? the father of my youngest child. the man i committed my life to. the man who said he was a christian? who was this man that i shared my family with, that came into my life like a whirlwind and promised me a stable home, filled with love and honesty and faithfullness? who i believed, would go to the ends of the earth for HIS son...if need be? he was a wolf in sheep's clothing. he devoured me. he took what self worth i had, and over the years has ripped it to shreds. until there is not much left. it is soooo cold here in this hole. a place i do not like to be, but find myself sinking to, quite often these last 9 months. and i wonder how much colder it is...for my son.

nine long months. and if i counted, and rounded off and stretched the time as far as i could, the amount of time my son has been face to face with his father would total maybe, MAYBE 10 minutes. that, my friends, is 600 seconds. in 9 long months. and how much more time has been spent with his "greener pasture?" as far as i can see, that "greener pasture" would be better defined as "gone to pasture." but that's just me. so, yes. the man in the first story is a hero to me. a man who would give up his life...for his son. i have 2 fathers like that. i know the feelings that come with having a Heavenly Father that has unconditional love for me, as well as an earthly father..., who would go to the ends of the earth for me. my son will know that kind of love from me, his mother, and from his Heavenly Father. but not from his earthy father. and that makes me angry. which leads to the man in the next story.

the "panty bomber." the would-be terrorist. no, he is NOT a hero. his religion tells him that if he dies while killing others he will receive 70 something virgins on the other side. i don't know what, had he succeeded with his plan, he would have done with those virgins, seeing as where the bomb was placed and all. but, i'm kind of liking the idea of a "panty bomb" as a form of punishment...for men who stray. and dump their families. i am thinking about petitioning my congressman to possibly use this device in my upcoming divorce. the "one who strayed" could be locked inside of a bomb-proof room, with a small device tucked into his a strategic place. and the "one who was strayed on" could take their time...mosey on over to a switch on the wall and ask, very politely, of course, if they have any "last words" before they lose their....well, you know what i'm saying here. it wouldn't kill them, of course...but, they wouldn't stray again. i think this idea might just save some marriages. this idea is almost enough to get me out of this hole i'm in.

if someone would throw me a phone book down here...i'm going to start on that petition right now. but, i need the number of my congressman!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

things that go BUMP, the night and the day

in the previous post i mentioned some other "unusual" things my car had hit.

when i finished my first (and only) year of college, back in 1978, i went to work for a large law firm in downtown west palm beach, fl. i was in a pool of six girls who each did secretarial work for about 12 attorneys. we had an hour for lunch every day and so three of us girls, myself, marion and ginger, would sometimes take a ten minute ride down to palm beach and sit on the sea wall and eat our bag lunch. (which translated to scoping out the surfer boys.)

this day we decided to do just that and we were going to go in my car, a toyota celica, which meant that i was driving. we were in the right hand lane, cruising right along on the main drive through palm beach, (yeah, THE PALM BEACH) where all the filthy rich people live. now, any time the three of us girls got together, i can assure you there was plenty of noise, with us singing to the radio, laughing and checking out the local "dudes." to see if we might draw the interest of one of them. a filthy rich one. so that we might marry one and live in one of those mansions on the water one day. i realize now, some 31 years later, that cruising down worth avenue in a toyota celica would probably not draw the attention of anyone that had a dime to their name, but we didn't know that back then. we were young, and stupid and we looked good to boot.

the light turned red and i came to a complete stop. just like the drivers manual instructs you to do. we were laughing about something and when the light turned green, i put my foot on the gas to go, because i was the first one in line and those people in palm beach mean for you to GO when that light turns green. then, as quick as a lightening strike my little car collided...

with one of those humongous ROLLS ROYCES! we went right through the back door of that monstrosity and the old man at the wheel just kept on going...pulling my car, with us still in it! he was going to try and make this little accident a hit and run, but i think he realized that he would have a pretty hard time explaining to his wife exactly WHY he had a toyota celica with three young girls, planted in his back seat. he pulled off the road and that was the very first bag phone i had ever seen. he called the police and we just sat there, until they arrived with a tow truck to pull the car, and us, back out into the real world.

this man had been drinking during his lunch hour, and while we were heading east, towards the beach, he was headed west, towards home...or a bar...or somewhere. he didn't know, because he was drunk. he had come to the same traffic light, on the other side of the median and had decided that the red light didn't apply to Him, so he made a left turn and i put my foot on the gas just as he passed me. he never spoke one single word to us girls throughout the whole time we sat there. in his backseat. and we weren't physically hurt or anything, thank God, but wouldn't you know, out of all the cars in the world, i would have to have my little bump with one of the most expensive ones. my car had to be hauled off on the tow truck, and he got to call someone to come and drive his away, since he was under the influence, minus a back door.

the old man, of course, was charged in the accident and us girls...well we got to take an extended lunch hour that day. and then we had to get a ride back to work from the policeman who was handling the accident. my insurance covered the damage to my car and life went on.

fast forward a few years.

i had just bought a brand new silver volkswagon jetta. my sister, terri had just bought a red mitsubishi eclipse. just a few short weeks after my large purchase, my radio and cassette player just quit working. a girl can not have THAT! we must have our tunes to rock out i had to take my car over to west palm beach and leave it for a couple of days at the dealership, so they could replace it. i was living in clewiston at that time. and it so happened, that mama was over in ft. myers, in the hospital. i can't remember if it was for gall bladder surgery or if she was having a kidney stone...but that's where she was anyway. ft. myers was an hour and a half west of clewiston, and west palm beach was the same distance, east. i needed someone to drive me over to get my car, which was on a friday, so terri said that she would take me.

now. let me stop here and tell you this. mama was always telling us girls, "y'all don't need to be out at night in those little miniskirts. if you got stranded on the side of the road some maniac serial killer/rapist would surely get you."

we didn't always listen to mama though. we were bad girls. and besides, we were going over to west palm in the daytime anyway. we would be back home before dark. let me also stop here. and tell you that mama doesn't like to hear about things we did when we were younger. even though many, many years have passed, and we never really did anything that every other young person did/does. she might still get mad. like sometimes how you might have a bad dream about your spouse having an affair with your best friend, and the next morning you would wake up furious at them, and be mad all day long. and they don't even know what they did. (don't pretend like you've never done this before) so...mama, if you're reading this, you might want to stop. now.

after we picked up my car we decided we didn't really feel like driving right straight back home. there wasn't anything to do there on a friday night. so we made the bad decision to go visit some friends. and it got later and later, and it was really, really dark by the time we decided we need to go. so, we left, with me driving my car in front and terri following me in her car. we were on a main highway, but it was not a busy highway. not in the middle of the night. and it didn't have street lights. and on one side of the road was a canal. a very, very deep canal. it was a four lane road, and i was driving along at a pretty good pace, when i suddenly started getting very sleepy. it was getting to the point where i could hardly keep my eyes open, so i rolled down my window so i could get some wind blowing in my face. thinking that this would wake me up.

i turned my head, briefly, towards the open window and when i turned back towards the road, in that instant i saw that there was something in the road, and i knew that i was going to run over it. and i did. it was lying horizontal to my car and it was longer than my car was wide. it got caught on something and my car began swerving, because i was trying to put the brakes on...but my brakes went out. and then my power steering went out. and i ended up in the far lane...the one going in the wrong direction than i had been going in, and then this thing, whatever it was came free from the car and started rolling down the road towards terri, who was fast approaching. she swerved to avoid hitting it and ran her car along the guard rail that was up to keep idiots like us, out of the canal. she was scared to death that i was dead, and that whatever or whoever i hit was dead and that she was out there in the dark all by herself. she got out and came running over to my car and there i was, slumped over the steering wheel...i don't know if i had been knocked out for a minute or two, or if i was just in shock. what i did know was this. we were out on a dark, lonely highway, in the middle of the night. not a soul knew where we were. i had just possibly killed someone. and we were both wearing mini-skirts. now there were two of us scared to death. we knew that if a maniac serial killer/rapist didn't get us, mama surely would when we got back home.

there was no such thing as cell phones in those days. and the closest thing to us, that was inhabitated with humans, was five miles back down the road. and before we could go anywhere to call anybody, we had to walk down the road and see what it was that i hit. and see if we could render first aid. soooo...huddled together and muffling our screams we headed in that direction, and the closer we got...the bigger it got! we didn't see any movement at all, or hear any thing resembling a cry for help, or a breath. or a gasp. we crept closer. and this is what had hit my car

not exactly this one, but one that looked just like it. a 9 1/2 ft. alligator. with his head smashed in. we started screaming bloody murder and ran as fast as we could back to terri's car and hauled our badonkadonks five miles back down to that truckstop we had passed. one of those 24 hour ones. where truckers hang out in the middle of the night. and ogle young girls. in mini-skirts. we went inside and had the cashier call the police and they told us to wait there for them, so we could lead them back to the gator. when they finally got there we drove back to the scene of the "crime" and waited while the trooper took his report. and then he told us that we would have to wait for a wildlife officer to come, because i had run over an endangered species! and i was thinking, "whoa there officer...that alligator was "jaywalking" on a dark highway in the middle of the night. it was not MY fault he couldn't outrun my car!" i was thinking that i was going to jail that night. the officer finally came, after about an hour, and he had to measure the gator and they removed the head and then they put the body of the alligator in the back of his truck. i don't have the faintest idea why they did that. but i imagine they took it for the tail meat. gator tail is considered a delicacy in those parts of south fl. we were finally free to go. minus my car. it had to be towed away.

we made it back home, and then the scariest part of the whole night came when we had to call mama and daddy and tell them what had happened. (the "not the WHOLE truth version") and of course, mama wanted to know what we had been wearing. and we had to listen to her telling us, in that way that only mama's can do...I TOLD YOU NOT TO WEAR THOSE MINI-SKIRTS AT NIGHT!!! WHAT IF A MANIAC SERIAL KILLER/RAPIST HAD BEEN OUT THERE ON THAT HIGHWAY!!! and i'm sure we were probably grounded for life.

that alligator had done $3,000 worth of damage to my brand new car. tore out the whole bottom of it, blown two tires, took out the power steering, the brakes, and a heap of other things.

i never went down that road again, without thinking about how lucky we have a mama that prayed for us. all the time. probably prayed alot for herself too...that she would live through all the stuff we kids would get into. we did some crazy things. some downright stupid things. but one thing we DIDN'T ever do again...was to wear mini-skirts out, in the middle of the night. we didn't want mama to have the satisfaction of being able to say she told us so...again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the day i DIDN'T get my drivers license

i have often heard the question asked, "if you could go back in time and change some things, what would you change?" and of course, everyone has alot of things they would probably do different, but one thing in particular always stands out in my mind. because it happened to be one of the most humiliating moments of my life. and there have been MANY, but maybe this one was particularly bad because i was a 16 yr. old girl. from a very small town. where everybody knew everybody. and when things out of the ordinary happen in small towns, word spreads, like wildfire.

when i turned 15, it was time for me to start learning how to drive. daddy was the manager of the sugar refinery and our house was one of two that actually sat on the refinery property. we lived a few miles outside of town, down a long road that was bordered on one side by a canal and the other by sugar cane fields. i had an older brother and sister, who had already flown the coop and two younger sisters, and mama was not real fond of teaching me how to drive with most of her offspring in the car, so she left that job up to daddy. on the weekends, when the refinery would shut down, and the parking lots were empty, he and i would drive over there and i would practice my driving skills. now the company car was a hearse. not really, it was a big ol' yellow station wagon, but to a teenage girl, being seen in that car in front of your friends was comparable to carrying around a dead body. your own. because it was like dieing a slow death...of embarrasment.

anyway, there were some ramps over at the refinery that the forklifts would drive up and down and it was on these ramps that daddy tried to teach me about the fine art of judging distances. now, i don't know if he didn't teach me well, or if it was just that i didn't learn it well, but for the life of me, i could not judge distances. i was always too far away from the side, or way too close. i think those ramps were my first inclination that i would grow up to be claustrophobic; (fear of being in small spaces.) one day we had been over there practicing for awhile and i think he must have been frustrated with me and had more than likely gotten on to me about something, because when i pulled back up to the house i would normally have gotten out of the car and let him drive it into the garage. but on this day, he told me to do it. and i panicked. it was a double car garage and mama's car was already parked on one side, which meant parking in very tight quarters. too tight, if you asked me. but, daddy didn't ask me. he told me. to park the car in the garage. and i tried to remind him that i hadn't yet mastered the skill of judging distances. but you didn't talk back to daddy. so i put my foot on the gas, barely, and then slammed on the brake. and then the gas, and then the brake. and then the gas a little harder, and before i knew what happened, i had pulled too close to the left side and ran the car up the side of the garage door frame, taking off the door handle on the way in. and i remember crying and saying, "i told you the garage wasn't big enough for this car, and he told me that he had always managed to get in there with no problem. daddy didn't want to teach me too often, after that little episode.

when i turned 16 i had already gone through drivers education at school, daddy decided to let someone else have a hand in training me and i had studied that driving manual and knew it inside out. i was prepared. now, in clewiston, the small town where we lived, you could only get your license on one day of the week. so, anyone that had a birthday during that week had to wait until that day. and i believe it was on a friday. we pulled up to the tag office, where you took your test, in mama's car, which was another humongous car, a lincoln continental. that was one of the downsides to having a large family. you had to drive large cars. and be seen in them in front of your friends. i was excited about finally getting to drive on my own, and some of my friends were there to get their licenses too. we were like a little cheering squad for each other. there were also a lot of other people there, doing things like getting tags, or paying taxes or seeing the sheriff about one thing or another, because all of this was done in the same building.

i went in and took the written portion of the test and then waited outside with the rest of my friends to take the driving portion. they took you alphabetically, by last name, and my last name was willis, so i would be one of the last ones. which was fine by me, because i was more than a little nervous about the parallel parking. when my turn finally came, there was just me and moody left. the one boy out of the entire school, who if i had been able to choose one person that i would not want watching me take my driving test, it would have been moody. without question. he was the kind of boy that was always happy, always a jokester, and he was popular. he had already taken and passed his test, but decided he would stick around and be my cheerleader since everyone else had already taken the test and gone home. with their independence in their wallet.

the lady officer came out and got in on the passenger side of the car, with her little clipboard. i got in the drivers seat and was so aware of her watching me. to see if i would put my seatbelt on. and if i checked the mirrors and adjusted them, and if my hands were at the proper 10:00 and 2:00 positions. she was making her little check marks in all the boxes and i got real nervous. really fast. this lady was scaring me. and i looked up and there was moody, with a big grin on his face, cheering for me to "go girl!" i cranked up that big ol' car and i turned around to the back to check to see if there were any cars coming and i remember clearly that lady officer telling me to back out slowly. we were parked with a car on either side of us. i took my foot off the brake and eased it over to the gas pedal and put a little pressure on it, all the while turning the steering wheel all the way to the right. and then my foot just pressed down a little too hard and i got scared, and i backed aaaaaallll the waaaaaay down the side of the car on my left. oh, the grinding noise. between that and the sound of the lady officer screaming at me....i got even more scared and i put that car in drive and went aaaaaallll the waaaaaay back up the car. and it wasn't just any old car. it was a POLICE CAR! i looked up and saw moody, just bent over at the waist, laughing his head off. his face was so red i thought he was going to blow a gasket and keel over right there on the sidewalk. that lady officer got out of the car and told me to follow her and she was babbling about something or other, when my mother walked right up to her, and i will never forget, as long as i live, what my mother said next. she actually said to that lady officer, "does this mean she doesn't get her license?" and that lady officer, in the loudest voice possible, i'm sure they heard her over in the next county, said, "SHE JUST HIT A PARKED VEHICLE!!!! NO, SHE DOESN'T GET HER LICENSE!!! i could have died right then and there. between her and moody, i don't know which was worse. knowing that i would be the laughing stock at school the next week or knowing i would have to get back in the car with that lady again the next week!

turns out...going to school on monday was worse. by then, everybody in town had heard and i was the brunt of many, many jokes. it was probably the headlines for that weeks newspaper, i don't remember. but, when i went back the next week to try again, i prayed that none of my friends would be there, just in case i had another "experience." that lady officer saw me coming and she refused to get back in the car with me. she went and got somebody else to ride with me and i passed the second time around. i gained my independence, finally, but by the time i did, i was too nervous to drive for awhile and to this day my stomach knots up when i see a police car.

on the bright side....many years later, when my own boys would hear of this story, they thought it was pretty cool that their mother had hit a police car while taking her driving test. and me? that was only the beginning of "unusual" things i would hit with my car. i will share some of those other things in a later post.

so, if i had a chance, i would go back and change that day. i would have parked the car in a different place when we first got there. with wide open spaces on either side. and i would go on a day when i knew that moody wouldn't be there. and i would have tried to borrow a smaller car to take the test in.

my three boys are all grown up now. the youngest got his drivers license a year ago. and i thank God that i don't have to go through another teenager learning to drive. God is still working with me on the judging distances thing. thirty five years later and i still haven't mastered that. maybe by the time i'm 70 yrs. old i will have it downpat. i'll pray for that anyway.