About 1991 or ‘92 North Nikiski, Alaska
We built our house and had lived comfortably for four years without electricity or running water. It was time for electricity and after long haggling we finally got it into the house.
Then it was time for running water! J.T. and Bob were the well diggers. After a big attempt at digging a well, with J.T’s and Bob’s engineering of a tri-pod - a 6 foot length of pipe with a sharp three sided tip cut into it, by J.T. the welder, the tire off the old pickup of Bob’s and a rope wrapped around the back right wheel and after weeks of inventions and tireless attempts at getting through the clay they finally gave up and borrowed a backhoe.
They started digging a well not too far from the lake - at 18-feet they stopped digging and took an 8 inch pipe 6 foot long, sharpened by J.T., and dropped it with the backhoe to see if they could punch through the clay. No luck whatsoever. The lake was ten feet from the hole and sealed by the Inlet Clay!
Then it started to rain and it rained and rained - the hole filled up with rain water running off the hill. The mud turned to slicker-than-slick mud that no one could walk in or on. The digging stopped, the next phase was discussed and discussed.
In the meantime we were contending with mud and the worry that there was an 18-foot-deep hole full of water.
I came home from work and the first thing I heard was Penny, our Golden Retriever, whimpering. I could not locate her or where the sound was coming from. Finally I went to the edge of the house and looked down into the hole full of water. There was Penny swimming around and around in the hole - with a stick in her mouth.
Apparently she spied the stick in the water hole, just like we played with her at the lake, throwing sticks for her to retrieve, her favorite past time. She jumped in the hole to retrieve the stick and could not get out, because of the steep walls and the slicker than slick mud.
I ran down to the hole, found a long branch and tried to convince Penny to swim to me so she could grab onto the stick and I would pull her out. NOPE! She would not swim close enough for me to grab her and she would not let go of the stick she had in her mouth!
So, in frustration, I lay down on the bank of the hole in the mud with my toes dug over a tree root. My thought was to grab the stick in her mouth and pull her out. NOPE! In my struggles to get her up the mud bank, I slipped a little, my feet were hanging onto the tree root just barely, and I was stuck hanging head down, looking into the hole full of water and Penny whining with the stick in her mouth. I was in a dire predicament - because I CANNOT SWIM. Bob was at work. There was not one soul around. All of the sudden I heard the cabin door at the next lot over, open and shut. I heard Arleighs voice talking to his dog.
I screamed “Arleigh come and help your Grandma - come Quick! I heard his little rubber boots, running, slappity-slap. up the driveway and he appeared at the top of the hill beating his chest and yelling “ Grandma your Hero is here!”
I told him very calmly that he had to come down the hill very carefully and sit on my feet and grab my coat and start pulling. He came slappity-slap, down the hill, sat on my feet and grabbed my coat tail. Just then, Penny swan over, dropped her stick and I grabbed her collar and she climbed up over my back and out of the hole.
It happened so quickly that I still have a hard time convincing people that is what happened, but Arleigh will verify it! Then with his mighty hero strength he pulled and pulled until I could push myself up out of the hole. We both sat there in disbelief at what happened. Arleigh kept saying “Wow Grandma are you ok?” “Yes! Arleigh you are my hero forever!” With a big hug and Penny dancing around in delight of being out of the hole - we walked-slipped up the hill, full of mud. We were so pleased that everything turned out well. We took off our muddy coats and boots, still in wonderment at what just had happened. Arleigh was five years old!
He is still is my hero!
Our Mom was the best model for a Mother any kid could ever have. She cooked all our meals, day in and day out, baked almost every day, sewed when it was needed - the only thing she would NOT do was darn socks. “Takes too much time,” she would say shaking her head NO! She saw to it we had clean, washed and ironed clothes every day. She saw to it that we had a bath on Saturday night, and washed our hair (all five) in the kitchen sink for years.
She saw to it we had clean bed clothes every week, hanging them on the clothes line, taking them off and folding then meticulously to get all the wrinkles out, and then unfold them and put them on our beds. OH MY they smelled so good!!
She planned and planned our lunches for school and made them every morning for all five of us as we went through grade school They were delicious!Always our favorite sandwich and a little package made out of waxed paper for our potato chips. She included one of her most tasty dill pickles. Dessert was baked just with school lunches in mind. Cookies, cakes and cupcakes and a little jar of peaches or pears that she had canned in the summer was included for our fruit. In the winter it was thermoses of home made soup.
What a MOM!
She was strict, no nonsense, gave big hugs and very seldom said she loved us - but when she did she meant it!! She was frugal with a strict unbendable set of rules. They never varied.
She scolded my Dad for being so funny-out of control with laughter, kind of guy, for playing pranks on us kids and her, but I think she thought that was her job and I bet she smiled as she turned her back.
She loved flowers and when she received flowers from her kids and Dad she would pick out her very best vase and arrange the flowers, sometime taking an hour to do so. As she got older she really looked forward to her day and the flowers she received.
I wish I could send her a big bouquet of roses this week end, but instead I will remember her with a smile and Thank the Good Lord for my MOM.
NOTE from my friend Pat in Vinton Louisiana.
Your ‘be kind’ end to the article is so true! I love seeing people smile back when they looked so sad, pre-occupied or whatever, when they see a smile or hear a kind word. This morning I was in the grocery store in Orange after I stopped at the lab for blood work. There was a man that looked to be around 90, shopping that looked so sad. I smiled and told him good morning as I passed by. I went down the aisle, got my item and when I passed by him, he smiled and spoke. It’s almost cheating, because I always get more from that kind of stuff than they do.
Thank you Pat.