Q6: Childhood Memories

Question: What's one of the most memorable times of your childhood?

I have so many strong memories from childhood and not nearly enough space to share them all.  Writing them up has been a more emotional experience than I anticipated.  Anyway, here they are: 

The Theme: Words to Live By

I don't know how old I was, but my brother Shawn and I were having a fight.  Mom broke us up and did the motherly detective duty, trying to find out what was going on.  I also don't remember what was going on... I know, great story so far, right? What I do remember is this: each of us started to blame the other, and Shawn brought up something I had done sometime in the distant past.  I think my mom had had "just about enough" at that point (can you hear that motherly tone?), and so she responded by telling Shawn that if he held on to all the little things people did and thought about them for months that he would grow up to be a very bitter person.  At the time, I was ready with my list of things Shawn had done in months past, and so her words were equally applicable to me.  For some reason, they stuck.  Hearing that made me try to forget the bad and remember the good, to make that a habit (contra this song).  I am not saying I never remember bad things, but that moment, that sentence, has influenced me a lot. 

The Places: Bragg Creek

I have many memories of living in Bragg Creek.  We had this long one story home, painted a dull red, with a U-driveway. It was on a large property, trees all around, and it backed onto a valley with a creek in it.  All the houses around also backed onto the valley, leaving the space in the middle as the best playground ever. We had so much fun there.  Building dams in the summer with Dad, picking raspberries in the nearby patch, climbing up Ol' Yikey (I think that is what Dad called it), sliding down the hill in the winter, getting my Mom to slide down the hill in the winter (only to watch her hit a tree :), playing make believe games with friends, and on and on.  Inside the house was fun too.  The basement is, in my memory, mysterious; dark rooms filled with leather furniture, a bar, places we just didn't go that much as kids.  On the main floor the family room had this high ceiling, and overlooking the couch was a kind of attic crawl space cubby hole thing. You got into it by climbing up a ladder in the mud room (a ladder which I am sure I fell off of at least once, if not more).  We would drop those little plastic parachute men from up there. 

One winter as my cousins, brother, and I walked by the creek we found this hanging ice bridge which went over it.  Perfect for crossing.  We started out rational enough: 1 at a time, older people first, lighter people first, and so on.  So, I started across.  Just as I made it to the other side both Shawn and Christine were trying to cross... straight into the creek.  So here I am, stuck on the wrong side, while they are climbing out and being rushed back to the house to dry off and get warm and be safe.  I looked for what felt like a long time to try and find a way back across, all alone and worried.  Eventually I just picked the shallowest part of the creek and ran across.  I don't know if the ice held me up or if it was so shallow I was really walking on rocks, but I made it.  

The People: Family
I have a lot of memories with family.  Family reunions filled with people I hardly knew and people I knew and loved.  I remember 'teaching' Brad (another cousin) that he could swim.  There was this water-slide and pool and Brad liked to go down it.  I don't know how old he was, but he thought he needed to be caught at the end.  So, I told him I would catch him.  Then I waited, and as he came down the slide I stepped out of the way.  He had water wings on, and he knew what to do, he was just scared.  He did fine, no longer needed someone to catch him, and later thanked me for doing that.  I think I'm just lucky he didn't freak out on me! Props to you Brad :) 

Continuing with family memories.  We visited family in Saskatoon a lot, or they visited us, and we always had good times.  Staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house, or Auntie Gwen's house, sleeping over with our cousins and staying up late talking and playing video games.  Or renting out an entire church to have a Christmas party.  That was a lot of fun.  All of our parents got us nerf guns and we got to use the whole building to have a nerf war.  So good.  

Places Part 2: The Lake

Then there's "The Lake."  Turtle Lake, to be precise.  My grandparents own a cabin up there and we tried to make it up most summers.  That was also a lot of fun.  We would go fishing, or play at the beach (especially with the giant blow-up turtle raft), have ice-cream, and just enjoy time together. 

One of our favorite activities there was building tree forts to have water fights.  I think we built up some of these forts over years.  They became elaborate three story affairs made of wood planks, particle board, branches, and whatever we could scrounge up.  Part of the goal was just to get as high as you could because if you had a height advantage you could reign down deathly water balloons on your foes fort.  It was always Kevin and I vs. Shawn, Cameron, and Brad (because Kevin and I were the oldest).  In my memory, Kevin and I always won :)

The Lord Gives, and the Lord Takes Away

To finish up, one of my favorite childhood memories, but also a somewhat sadder memory.  

I grew up camping and doing stuff outside and we always had a lot of fun.  The best such trip, however, was when my brother, my Dad, my Uncle Ken, my Cousin Greg, and I went on a several day canoe trip from eastern Manitoba, crossing into Ontario, and back.  We had never done anything like that before.  Bags tied into canoes, everything packed with us, we set off.  Each day was filled with relaxing time on lakes and rivers and streams, portages where we had to carry everything through trails, setting up and taking down tents and on and on.  I learned a lot on that trip.  I learned that food tastes a hundred times better when you cook it yourself, eat it outside, and have it after a day of hard work.  With such sauces even spam tasted good (we did catch enough fish, but somehow felt that the trip wouldn't be complete if we didn't eat spam at least once).  I learned that fishing can be fun when its not just for fun, if you know what I mean.  I also learn the importance of not casting near at tree... did we ever get that wire untangled or did we just cut it? I found out how much I enjoyed God's creation.  I learnt that spending extended periods of time together in that way brings people closer together. I saw, in the relationship between my Dad and my Uncle, how much brothers can be a blessing (even if I didn't figure out how to apply that lesson until much later!). I know, these are simple things, but we had a lot of fun and I look back on that trip with great fondness.  

Those memories, of that canoe trip, are also tinged with sadness.  My Uncle Ken was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away after that.  I want to say shortly after that.  It feels like it was shortly after that.  But my memory for dates and ages and times is terrible; it could have been years.  Uncle Ken worked in a nuclear power plant, and I have always blamed his cancer on that.  More importantly, I look back and wish we could have done more trips like that, spent more time together.  I know we would have, if only...  My Uncle Ken's death brought some painful firsts into my life as well. It was the first time I saw my Dad cry, and it was my first experience of losing a loved one.  I do wish we had had more time.  But I am very grateful for the time we did have, and for that trip we did take.  


I get to the end of this post, and feel like I have missed so much.  So many ski trips, both downhill and cross country, that fill my childhood like sparkling winter diamonds. The pool in the backyard in Regina and all the fun and parties we had there.  As well as more life lessons, like learning that some people value image more than friendship, and how much that can hurt.  

Mostly, I think I have to conclude by thank my parents and my extended family.  You have filled my life with good memories, joyful and meaningful times, that have helped make me who I am today.  God has used you greatly, so thank you and praise the Lord!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reading your "Childhood Memories" brings tears to my eyes. I am so thankful that you have good, happy memories. I am sure you have others that you were gracious enough to leave out of this post but I hope the good outweighs the bad.

Your post also evokes memories for myself, the planning and coaxing that went into making sure all of you had nerf guns at the same time - The hours Auntie Gwen & I spent FILLING all those water balloons you so joyfully rained down on your cousins - appeasing Grandpa when he had not a nail left after you did your building or a scrap of wood either - and especially I remember having concerns about sliding down the hill on the winding paths you had made and being assured that I wouldn't, only to get a lengthy explanation after the fact that I was simply too heavy. LOL

God had a plan for you and has used the events in your life to shape you into who you are today. We are proud of you for listening and following.