|7th Grade Gretchen: new bangs and glasses|
One unique thing that scared me was my sister's sleepwalking. She had always been a bit of a sleepwalker and talker growing up, but not long after we moved to Montana, it rose to a new level. Sometimes she would go to bed in her own room, and I'd wake up with her sitting at the end of my bed staring at me. It freaked me out!! I wasn't scared OF her, I was scared FOR her! I had seen her have a night terror once when she was younger, and I was so afraid of her getting upset in her sleep. I was also scared of her finding her way to the back door (which was right outside my bedroom door) and wandering outside to the pool while we were all asleep. I felt like I needed to stay awake to keep her safe, but I didn't know what to do. I'd ask her questions to try to show her that she was sleeping, but some how that clever tactic never really paid off. I usually had to risk leaving her for a few minutes to go get my mom so she could make Anna go back to bed. It probably didn't actually happen super often, but for a space of time I felt like it was always in my mind, nettling me.
Another thing that really frightened me were the rattlesnakes. We could hear them in our "yard" (placed in quotes because little grass grew and we never played in it), so we rarely stepped a toe into it. My brother once chopped up a snake with the riding lawn mower, and brought us a bit of flesh to prove it. Since we had the decks, patio, and pool in the back and basketball hoop on the front driveway, we didn't miss not using our yard much. People told tales about rattlesnakes being blind when they shed their skin, and I needed no more caution than that -- I would do everything in my power to avoid those creatures.
|A much younger picture of me and Grandad|
There in the middle of the path -- right in front of us -- was a coiled up rattler!
I screamed as hard and long and loud as I could, which is saying a lot for a 12 year old girl, and ran a few steps backward, turned around, snatched up my baby sister and continued screaming for my life. I hugged her chubby little guts out, crying, and wondering why the adults were not coming to our aid. Sure enough, they walked on ever so slowly, even though we were in full view. I screamed again, and then they came running. I think at that moment, in my mind, if the middle of the path was not safe, then NO WHERE around me was safe, either. There had to be so many rattlers in the tall grass, that they were spilling over onto the path. I could neither go forward, nor backward, nor around the snake. There must be snakes everywhere.
When my mom came, she told me she thought we were laughing. I was in serious melt-down mode: "what are we going to DO?? How can we get back to the van??" Getting out of there was at the top of my priority list.
My grandfather had the simple solution. I shivered with fear as he walked up closer to the snake and bent down, picking up a handful of sandy dirt in his hand. "Let's try this" he muttered to himself, and tossed the sand at the snake.
I was sure it would fly at him, snapping its poisonous fangs, but instead, the snake only tucked its head into its coiled middle.
"They don't have eyelids," Grandad explained. "They have to hide their heads to keep the sand out of their eyes." He'd seen a desert rat get away from rattlesnake on a nature show. He was always watching those nature shows. "Now, Gretch, when I do this again, you run by him."
Toss. . . Gretchen skittered by.
Toss. . . Mom, Gram and Emily scurried past.
One more toss . . . and Grandad joined us all, the conquering hero.
In the van, I sat next to my grandmother so shaken and still very afraid. She patted my shorts leg and said "It's all over now, don't be afraid," but I think it took me a good part of the ride home to really believe it.
|Emily turns two|
Poor Emily -- little baby girl on her birthday met up with a scary snake. I couldn't stop thinking of the "what ifs" of what happened, and she was so small and innocent. I have this picture of that day, only telling of the celebration and nothing of our terror. It's ok, I wouldn't want to look at a scary picture anyway!
This is chapter 9 in my life story and I'm linking up to Mommy's Piggy Tales.