I’ve often thought about how some memories are stuck in my mind, and others seem to have slipped away from me. For instance, I remember waking up when I was five years old from a nap on the floor of my room. I don’t know why I wasn’t in my bed; I assume I was playing and merely slept where I was. That said, I awoke to a puppy licking my face. I don’t remember anything after that, but I remember the first time Samson, my golden retriever pup, and I met. It’s adhered to my mind.
I remember walking down the hill to the neighbor’s house, having been invited to come over for a cap gun battle, only to be ambushed on my way down by the three neighbor girls wielding their cap guns and blasting me away after jumping out from behind the trees that lined the hill. I don’t remember anything else from that day, but I remember being surprised and happy.
Yesterday, I was brought back to another time in my memory. My wife and kids and I had gone to Sam’s Club to get a couple necessities. In particular, I needed a new pair of jeans. I tend to kill pants. I’ve tried $100 jeans and $45 jeans and everything in between. However, no matter the price or the claims of the brand, the pants tend to die on me after about six months. So, several cycles ago, after a recommendation from my dad, I purchased my first pair of $10 jeans (although they have increased in price now to $14). These jeans lasted me, surprise, six months before giving up the ghost. So now, I buy cheap $14 jeans and save myself some money.
Anyway, after shopping for jeans and all the other random stuff you pick up at Sam’s that you never intended to buy before walking in there, we paid for our items and my wife walked over to the snack center and got the kids some Icee Slurpies as a treat. She took their picture as they stood there enjoying the sweets. However, my mind was taken back. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money. I don’t think we were poor, but there wasn’t a lot of money for things like Icee’s. My neighbor and her three girls and my mom and I often did things together during the day. They were home-schooled and I was an only child. So by default, we were all the best of friends.
One day though, my neighbor’s husband got a promotion at work. As such, when we went into the local K-Mart, all of us kids got an Icee as a rare treat. I know some of you reading this might think that it’s odd to believe that an Icee could stick out in my mind, but maybe the remainder of the story will clue you in as to why. Our neighbor, Chris, handed each of her kids an Icee.
Ashley got an Icee, and her response was, “Thank you!”
Courtney got an Icee, and her response was, “Thank you!”
Angie got an Icee, and her response was, “Thank you!”
And finally, Michl (me) gets an Icee, and his response is SLURP! SLURP! SLURP!
Suddenly, my Icee is gone, as if it has merely vanished from my hand. Looking up, I see my mom standing there, slurping on my Icee. She raises her eyebrows and glances down at me. I am shocked.
“Next time, you will remember to say thank you,” she says and walks away with my Icee.
She drank the entire thing. The saddest part is, she doesn’t even like cherry Icees. There was a similar lesson that happened earlier in my life with a Snickers bar, but that’s a story for another time. Some of you may think the lesson cruel, I’m sure. However, while I am sure I did cry, I don’t remember crying. What I remember was a lesson my mom taught me. To this day, I remember to be polite. It was ingrained into me to show respect and thankfulness to someone who is kind to me. It was a big deal for Mrs. Chris to buy us those Icee’s. At the time, the amount of money it took to buy all of us kids those Icee’s was a lot for her, and at that time, I didn’t show appreciation for that. True, I was just a little kid, but it was important for me to recognize the value of what I was getting. Just like a pair of jeans that obviously aren’t worth $100 to someone like me who is just going to kill them in six months, an Icee to a mom who is pinching pennies for the good of her family is a big deal. And it was a big deal to us, but I didn’t recognize it for what it was and my mom wanted to reinforce that value of thankfulness. She wanted to engrain that value into my head enough that I would remember it. I don’t remember crying, but I remember the lesson.
I was standing over to the side waiting for my wife to get the Icees for the kids and I didn’t hear if they said thank you to her when she handed them the treats. So, I can’t say if the direct lesson has been passed down to my own offspring. However, I can tell you that they are thankful for the blessings they have. True, like all kids, they must be reminded from time to time, but I think the value has been instilled. So, as I sit here sipping my coffee and thinking back, I must smile, I have a good momma, who taught me how to live life in gratitude and thankfulness; not just to her and my dad, but to God for all the blessings I have been given. I hope in the end I am able to give back some of that blessing to others.
D. Michl Lowe