This is a reblog from five years ago. Much has changed in those five years–kids married, friends passed, books published, a new hip–but memories remain the same. Maybe that’s the good thing about remembering. That’s the one thing in life that remains constant–as long as I don’t compare mine with someone else’s who was at the scene. LOL!
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5/24/2008– Whenever I think of Memorial Day, I think of the year I was pregnant with our first son (btw: that was 1977.) My DH had wanted a sailboat for sometime, so we finally bought one. A twenty foot Daysailer with a cuddy cabin. (You can see a picture of them here.)
Memorial Day dawned beautiful. The sky was brilliant blue with only a crown of clouds around the horizon. We went to his parents for lunch, then took out the boat. His parents and younger brother decided to go with us. His parents didn’t want to go in the boat so they stayed on shore. After insisting he wear a bright orange life jacket, Younger Brother, DH and I loaded up and took off.
New: We went to Old Mannford Ramp, which is no long open on Keystone Lake. While we were there, I pointed out the place where I’d lived as a little girl as well as the tree I could never climb because the branches started way too high.
I didn’t know that where we put the boat in was the same area where my parent had swum as kids, many years before that and very near the place where my mom had lived.
We went to the end of the area we were in. (I think it was near where that bridge was that scared me so much, the one we had to cross to go see Janie and Sally.) We were turning around to sail back past his parents so we could wave at them when the wind died. And when I say died, I mean D-I-E-D. There wasn’t a breath of a breeze anywhere. It felt as if we’d all donned heavy wool coats.
“It’s hot!” YB complained. “Can I take off my life jacket?”
“No!” DH and I both answered.
Luckily, there’s a law that you must have a paddle in the boat, so DH, at the back of the boat, started working our way toward home.
That’s when I heard a distant roar. I had no idea what it was, but it scared me to death. “Can you hear that?”
“Hear what?” DH wasn’t in a really good mood with sweat pouring into his eyes.
“That sound. It like a great big wind, heading our way.”
“I don’t hear anything.”
“It’s either a great big wind or someone is riding a motor cycle down the middle of the lake!” I snapped.
Before he could answer me, the wind caught up with us. It filled the sail and the jib, and before we could catch our breaths, tilted the boat high on its edge. I sat close to the cuddy cabin on the low side, and when I glanced at YB to see that he was okay, I saw him bail off the high side into the stormy lake.
Then we capsized. I grabbed the two loose life jackets and put one under each arm to keep them from being washed away.
YB swam up close to me and grabbed the end of the boat. DH worked hard to pull himself onto the top of the bottom of the boat. While he was pulling himself up, YB said, “Quick, Susan, take this.”
“This” was the rudder–which is solid iron and acted like an anchor in my hand, weighing me down so low, I could barely keep my nose above water.
Then DH said, “Hand me one of those life jackets, Susan. I’ll put it on.”
I started scissor kicking hard to keep the water out of my mouth. “I can’t. I’m holding the rudder. If I give you a life jacket, I’ll go to bottom.”
“Why are you holding the rudder?”
I was a little irritated. “Because your brother pulled it out and I didn’t want to have to buy another one.”
He looked down from his safe spot. “Okay. Hand it to me.”
“Hand it to you? How? I can barely keep it where it is. I sure can’t lift it.”
“Oh.” Getting on one knee, he reached down and took the rudder, placing it next to him. “You all get up here.”
YB climbed up and sat on the sloping portion, then we looked toward shore. DH’s mother was running up and down the beach as if she thought we were going to be swept out to sea at any moment. (Oklahoma is a long way from the sea, but that didn’t enter her mind. Her baby was in trouble.)
His father found someone who had a boat with an engine and sent them out to rescue us. But the waves were so high and the wind so bad, each time they got close, they almost landed on top of us. They had to give up.
In a while a man with long hair, wearing only a pair of cutoffs and carrying an empty gallon milk carton came wading into the lake, then swam toward us.
“Go back! Go back!” DH yelled.
The guy ignored him. When he got there, he told us he was with lake rescue.
“What’s the milk carton for?” I asked.
“It’s to tie to the mast in case we have to drop it.”
He told DH to get off the boat, go underneath and break the mast over. DH went under, but it took him so long to find the mast and do the necessary adjustments in the dark, the stranger thought he was going to have to rescue him.
DH finally popped back out, safe and sound. With the mast now hinged instead of fixed, the wind was able to blow the boat onto its side. We easily pushed it to shore.
A bit upset (and in my first trimester of pregnancy) I got in the truck and let DH and his dad load up.
Although we still own it, we only went out on that boat one more time. It was a Fourth of July when the wind blew so hard, it forced us against the rocks under the railroad trestle. Unwilling to chance capsizing again, I whistled down a passing boat (yep, I got the big whistle gene in this fam) and got us a tow back to shore.
What are your favorite Memorial Day memories? Sprucing up the cemetery with your grandparents when you were a kid? Going on picnics with your families? Vacations that span the weekend? Or for you, was Memorial Day just a day to catch up on yard work?