I have five siblings. Three sisters and two brothers. The six of us expanded over quite a range of ages. The youngest two were close in age and in friendship, while the middle two were close and my older brother and I were close. We had a nanny who came each morning to care for the younger ones and ensure my parents home didn't receive a thrashing during the day. We were a pretty good group of kids. We didn't cause too many problems for my parents and they didn't end up in a mental hospital so I guess that was a bonus for them.
One of our family stories still cracks me up to this day. I thought I would share it here.
This story begins on a sunny relaxing day at home. I was off running the neighborhood, as I normally did on a Saturday. When I returned home to have dinner with the family, I heard a story that still makes me giggle at the very thought of it.
My mother was outside tending to the shrubs she had planted around the house. She was pulling weeds and trimming up the evergreens. During this time, all of us were out having fun with our friends. My sister, Gail, was about 6-years-old at the time. She had walked next door to check out the little "zoo" kept in the home behind us.
Our house was newly built and was incorporated into the rest of the new homes on a street that was only about 3-years-old. Our street ran north and south and was connected to an old road that ran east and west. The newer neighborhood was up against the old homes that used to be small farmland homes. The neighbor in the back of our home was one of the old farm houses. It rested up against our backyard fence. The home was very old and looked as though it was almost ready to collapse should a strong wind hit it.
The people in our backyard owned a few chickens, rabbits and goats. Gail loved to see the animals romp through the yard. She would, at times, spend hours talking to the goats and rabbits. This day was no different.
Gail walked along on the sidewalk by our cyclone fence, with a goat at her side. My mother looked up and saw she had her furry friend with her.
"Gail, you need to take that goat home before it gets hit by a car," mom instructed her.
"I tried mom but nobody is home," Gail whined.
"Take it home, Gail," my mother insisted.
Gail disappeared around the corner of the house and mom returned inside to make dinner. She had a hungry brood to feed and knew we would be flying through the door soon. With six children, that's like a storm of locusts hitting your kitchen. All the food could disappear within a matter of seconds if you're not on the ball with a meal.
Mom finished dinner and we all sat down to eat. My mother was a remarkable cook and the family was definitely hungry. The room was incredibly quiet that night, as we were busy shoveling the wonderful dinner into our mouths. Mom finished chewing a bite and set her fork down on her plate. We saw the worried look on mom's face and knew something was up. Mom had been thinking and this could be a good or bad thing for any of us. Mom is an intelligent woman but often her ideas meant work. She opened her mouth to speak and we all held our breath.
"Gail, did you take that goat back like I asked you to today?" We were safe. We knew it was focused on something Gail was supposed to do. We continued eating.
"Yes, momma," Gail replied.
Moms can never let one answer be enough. She had to dig deeper. With six children, you would think parents would learn to let things go.
"You took it to the neighbor's house where it belonged?"
Dad chewed his food while staring at his young daughter. He had no clue what was going on and it was probably best.
My mom picked up her fork again. She took another bite of food and put it in her mouth. As she chewed, we knew something wasn't quite sitting right with mom. Let it go, mom. Let it go. Mom released the grip on her fork again and let it rest on the plate.
"Gail, you took it to those people next door?"
"Yes, mom." At this point, even quiet, shy Gail was getting annoyed.
Mom wasn't yet satisfied. She attempted to get the full story one more time. Why? To this day we don't know but she had to know.
"Gail, were the people at home?"
She just had to ask.
"No, mom. They weren't home. I knocked and they didn't answer. I opened the door and let the goat in for them."
The room went dead silent. For eight people, six of them being children, that is a miracle on its own. We all stared at each other in that moment of silence. We had to allow the thought of a goat in a house with nobody home sink in for a bit. The mental image must have struck all of us at the same time. The house burst into laughter.
From that day on, we have always had the "family story" of the goat. Gail sat and ate in silence while the rest of us laughed until we cried. Once the laughter would stop, the image would cross our minds again and the giggles couldn't be contained.
We never saw the goat again. We never spoke with the neighbors. Mom and dad decided it might be a good thing to let that one be chalked up to experience. Nobody in the neighborhood ever knew. For several days after the tale of the goat broke in our house, we would all get big grins across our faces and we could tell that the goat image had come to mind again.
All I can say today is I want to give a big shout out to those neighbors, should you be around. I would like to apologize and also say thank you, for giving us a family story that will never die. God bless your house.