Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Lawn Mower

As the 4th of July winds down, I am very sentimental.  I got to see my entire family, quite a few old friends and got to spend time in Des Moines and Clear Lake, which always leads me down memory lane. 

My family started the weekend in Des Moines.  We all came in from Germany, Omaha and Minneapolis. Our plan was to celebrate my Dad's 70th birthday.  He makes 70 look easy.  He is either a young 70 or just a funny guy whose personality is determined to outwit his age.  Either way, he doesn't seem 70.  He's just my Dad.  Funny.

Enter my "little" brother Craig. If you have met him once, you know him.  He holds nothing back.  He is an open book.  "Mystery" is not a good word to describe him.  He is funny, quick with a joke, wants to be your friend (unless you don't listen to his jokes) and definately demands attention.

The plan was that when we went to Des Moines for my Dad's birthday we were going to have a family picture taken. I went to Anthropology to buy something that I had my eye on. Family pictures...the perfect excuse to go to Anthropology.  While I was shopping, I started thinking about something and I just can't seem to shake it.

I was in my senior year at college at Loras.  It was Easter and I was going home to spend the weekend with my family.  Before I left for the weekend, I went to the Kennedy Mall in Dubuque, Iowa and bought a dress for Easter mass and brunch. 

I was so proud of my new dress that I bought with my own money.  I was so excited to show my Mom. I thought she would just love it. I drove the 3.5 hour drive from Dubuque to Des Moines with my Easter dress hanging proudly in the backseat window.

As I pulled into my parent's driveway, I saw that my younger brother Craig had beat me home.  In fact, he was halfway through mowing the front lawn.  He was hot, sweaty and was smiling from ear to ear.  My heart was so happy that he was smiling...he was so happy to see me.  In fact, he was so happy to see me that he just stopped mowing.  He was halfway through a strip in the front lawn and just stopped.  Half mowed...half not mowed.  It didn't matter.  We were together and we were going to have a fun weekend.

As I got out of the car, he came up to happy, smiling. He gave me a huge, sweaty...stinky hug.  It was good to see him.  He asked if he could take my car down the street to the gas station to get something to drink.  It was hot.  Of course...grab me something while you are there.

He jumped in my car and off he went. Literally, the gas station was at the bottom of the hill...2 minutes away.

5 hours later, as my Mom and I sat in the living room watching out the window, we still believed that he would come back home with my car.  From time to time, we did laugh that he tricked me out of my car.  Yes, we did laugh.  But, still...

When all hope was gone, I called my friends and we rallied.  They picked me up and we went to our favorite gathering spot to see old high school friends.  Throughout the night I told old friends (who knew my brother) what had happened.  How my brother hugged me, took my car and never returned.  It was a little hard not to laugh at him.  One minute you want to kill Craig, the next minute he says or has done something and you are laughing like an idiot. 

My brother Craig has a rather large head of hair when it is grown out (think Kramer from Seinfeld).  When it is humid outside, it gets bigger.  The door to the bar opens up and above everyone's heads I see a large, fuzzy head of hair moving through the crowd, stopping occassionally to tell a joke...hug a friend. I bolted out of my seat and made my way through the crowd.  It was my brother (in the same stinky, sweaty clothes he had on when he was mowing the lawn) with a group of his friends.  Friends that I usually love to talk to, but now are the enemy.  Craig and I made eye contact.  As he saw me through the crowd, he smiled at me and somehow managed to make his way back out the door.  Gone, with my car...and my Easter dress.  Again.

The next morning when I woke up, my car was back.  I went outside to survey the damage. I passed the lawn mower, still sitting in the front lawn... half mowed, half not mowed.  My Dad would wake Craig up early to finish the job, as a means of torture for Craig who had been out until the early morning hours.  My car reaked like it had been packed full of college boys all night.  But, there hung my new Easter dress.  A little cock-eyed, but still hanging on the hanger.  All night they drove around in my car, with my Easter dress.  Careful not to make it fall off the hanger.

Life is weird and funny.  Family is good.  Old friends are so dear.  So, here's to Dads that give their sons their personalities and already know their next move and to brothers that pick on you, but don't let others pick on you and sweet Moms that laugh with you and want to see your Easter dress and old high school friends that will pick you up no matter what and don't let your Easter dress fall off the hanger. Here's to all of it.

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