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    September 2017
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Sleep Disorders

When my baby sister Mary Ellen was young, she was ornery, sassy, funny, and surprisingly smart-alecky as a four-year-old. And she really hasn’t changed much. (Except she’s much older now, of course.)

One morning, we were all up and going about our day when we couldn’t find Mary Ellen. We searched the house and the yard, giving special attention to the trees she liked to climb—the ones that over hung the creek. Mom was starting to panic, when I noticed one small foot peeking out from under some clothes by her bed. It was Mary Ellen, oblivious to our frantic search, sleeping peacefully underneath her bunk bed.

Another time, Mary Ellen was the one panicking, yelling at Susie in the top bunk. “I can’t get up! I can’t get up!” Mary Ellen had gone to bed with chewing gum in her mouth and when she woke up, the very top of her head was stuck to the headboard.

It’s never dull when Mary Ellen’s around, that’s fer shur.

See, it started as a baby. Although to be fair, our Uncle Stanley taught her this.

See, it started as a baby. Although to be fair, our Uncle Stanley taught her this.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers.

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The Slippy Sunday Service

I love my little brother. Really, I do.  Even though, as soon as Wayne grew big enough to toss me around like a rag doll, he started exacting his revenge for all the times I had beat the socks off of him when we wrestled as kids. (One time, Wayne managed to pin my shoulders. Wanting to gloat, he yelled at Dad to come see. But, before Dad got there to see Wayne’s triumph. . .I flipped him. heh, heh.)

What? Oh, yes. Back to revenge. Once when I was about eighteen years old, I was relaxing on the couch, just minding my own business. Mom was in the kitchen basting a turkey for dinner, and Wayne was just hanging out, being a pest. As soon as Mom said, “Wayne, will you put the turkey back in the oven for me?” I knew he was coming after me. Picked me up. Carried me into the kitchen. Said to Mom, “This turkey? I don’t think she’ll fit.”

Ha. Ha.

What does this incident have to do with the Slippy Sunday Service? I can’t decide if the following is something Wayne did on purpose or not. I’m thinking not, because of the potential for disrupting the church service, and this is Wayne after all, not Mary Ellen. But the desire for revenge can be very strong.

At this time Wayne was in charge of cleaning the church. He did a good job—too good, if you ask me. This particular Sunday, when the congregational singing was finished, I turned on the piano bench, and started to slide to the edge so I could exit the podium as I did every Sunday morning. Little did I realize that my little brother had so thoroughly cleaned the church that he even polished the piano bench.

Yes, he did. And yes, I nearly did slide off the edge of the bench onto the floor in front of the entire congregation. Oooh, it was close. Probably the only thing that saved me was the lightening-fast reflexes I had developed in response to the brotherly revenge-taking.

So, innocent mistake or diabolical plot? Wayne says mistake, but then he laughs. And I still remember the look on his face when he got flipped just before Dad walked through the door.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers

The Clown Car

You may be surprised to learn that my family was part of a circus act. We performed every Wednesday evening and twice on Sunday for a least a year back in 1973, then expanded our act in 1974.

This was the gig the congregation at our church would gather to watch after every service ended: My family of six people would all pile into the family car, a 1973 Ford Pinto (You see, it was a clown car before the act even got started.)

To begin, Wayne would get in and sit on the hump in the back. Kathy and I would fold ourselves in on either side of him, where I would balance Dad’s guitar case. The members of the Back Seat Crew weren’t little either. We were aged sixteen, twelve, and ten years old at the time. After the BSC were settled, the FSC would perform. Susie would climb in the front of the car and perch prettily on the console, and Dad and Mom would swoop gracefully in to take the spacious driver and passenger seats, respectively.

The bonus for the congregation was if they were outside to see the front end of our performance when we burst out of the car after arriving at church. I think some people came to church just to watch our performance, but it is not an evangelizing tool I would recommend.

And the expansion of our act? Mary Ellen was born. She, of course, immediately snagged a coveted spot with the FSC on Mom’s lap. The BSC, of course, was taxed with the responsibility for keeping up with her carry-on luggage filled with clothing, food, and burp cloths which the little princess demanded as her due. Such a prima donna!

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers.

The Knee’d for Restraint and Restraints

If you remember, I told you how easily Mary Ellen could disrupt a church service—and promised another example. The time for that story is now.

Mary Ellen was slightly older in this story. Don’t get me wrong. She wasn’t loud in church. She didn’t cry or fuss much that I remember—no beating on the pew with her toys or anything like that. Mary Ellen was a stealth disrupter.

At the small church where my Dad was pastor, the order of service usually went like this: opening prayer, congregational singing, prayer requests and congregational prayer, special singing, then the sermon. There was a young man named Eugene who would often play his guitar and sing during the special singing time. Eugene was a good guy, and bless his heart, he persevered through circumstances that would have put off someone less determined. Once when he was singing and playing the guitar, the microphone started to sink. The mechanism that kept the microphone at a chosen height became loose for some reason, and the microphone started a slow-motion descent.

Eugene didn’t let that incident stop him however. And later, at another church service when he was singing, we noticed he looked a little flushed. He kept singing though, getting redder in the face as the song progressed. When the song was finished, Eugene. . .and Mary Ellen came out from behind the lectern and down off the podium.

I don’t know how Mary Ellen got up there without anyone seeing her—stealthy, like I said. But the reason Eugene had such a problem finishing the song is because Mary Ellen was standing behind him, with her head stuck between his knees and one little arm around each of his shins!

This was about the time Mom started harnessing Mary Ellen to the pew. Just kidding! It would have been a waste of time with our little Houdini anyway.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers

Smoking in the. . .Sanctuary?!

WHO in the WORLD would be so disrespectful as to smoke in the sanctuary of a church?!

Let me introduce you to my youngest sister, Mary Ellen. You’d think that someone named after her sweet maternal grandmother (Ellen) and her totally loveable aunt (Mary Golden) would inherit some of their sweet, lovesble traits. You poor, naive readers—although, to be totally fair, Mary Ellen wasn’t exactly smoking in the sanctuary. Here’s what happened. . .

My Dad was pastoring a small, mission church in small town Ohio back in the mid-to-late ‘70’s. Mary Ellen was the only little one there for a while, so of course, she was the church baby. Spoiled. Rotten. The small congregation was more like an extended family, and Mary Ellen was at home with everyone. This particular Sunday morning, she slipped away from one of her admirers, but instead of going back to where Mom was sitting, Mary Ellen decided to put on a little show.

The next thing Mom knew, Dad was saying, (from the pulpit, mind you—where he was preaching) “Ruby, you need to come and get this baby.” Mom looked up from her Bible and there was Mary Ellen, standing in front of the step leading to the podium, a long piece of white chalk between her fingers, puffing away with the practiced ease of a 1940’s movie siren.

No one in our family even smokes! We have no idea where she got that—a remnant of her misspent babyhood, no doubt.

And that’s not the only time this precocious two-year-old disrupted a church service. But that is a story for another day.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers. Hey, it’s not too late for you to join us!

My Looney Tunes Family

Perhaps every close knit family has its own language–music, sports jargon, whatever. My family speaks Looney Tunes. Fluently. No joke. Seriously, would I make up something like that? (“You might, Rabbit. You might.”

It’s nearly impossible to go to a restaurant and order a meal. For instance:

Server: Are you ready to order?

Me:  I would like…

Any sibling: “I would like? I would like a trip to Europe!”

That’s just the beginning. The reason my brother calls me Ijitt?

Why did this inspire my brother to call me Ijitt? No clue. I promise you, I have never sneezed fire out of my snout and set anything on fire. (I really hope I don’t need to tell you that I don’t even have a snout.)

Still, it’s OK. Most of the time. We have a lot of fun. Or maybe I should say they have a lot fun. . . . .no, it’s “we.” (“Aha! Pronoun trouble!”)

You’ll have to look that last one up yourself  😉

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers. Hey, it’s not too late for you to join us!