Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Bestess Brefast Forever!

Kris Szlauko

Kids learn from the examples that their older siblings set for them. It was always very important for me to be on my best behavior because my actions were often emulated. Even then, events can still unintentionally, really go wrong like the time we had our Bestess Brefast Ever!

I rolled over in bed and checked my alarm clock. 6:15 on a Saturday morning! I thought I heard noise coming from the kitchen. It can’t be Mom unless she had gotten home from work early. On Friday nights she worked from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday, at the hospital. Sometimes she did get off early. I listened for additional noises. Nothing! I assumed that it was just a kid looking for a glass for water. I closed my eyes and drifted back to sleep.

Someone whispered shushing sounds in the hallway. Not fully awake, I looked back at the clock. It was 6:47. I listened for a moment more and it was quiet again. “Okay. Maybe it was Mom. I’m sure she has everything under control,” I thought as I drifted back to sleep.

With my head on my pillow, I waited for the smell of fresh pancakes. It was nice when Mom was home for breakfast. Breakfast was usually pancakes with jelly or maple syrup. On other mornings, breakfast was cold cereal and toast. I didn’t smell the pancakes yet. I reasoned to myself that she might be waiting for more kids to wake up.

I looked over at my alarm clock. It was just after seven and I was hearing a little noise from the kitchen. I looked over at my little sister’s bed. Becci was four years old, and had to be reminded to get up right away and go pee as soon as she woke up. She was not in her bed. “That’s good,” I thought, “She is learning to get up on her own.”

I laid my head down waiting for her to come back to her bed and drifted into a semi-sleep again. I dreamed that I heard children giggling and playing. It was nice to have a sweet dream like that. My dream seemed too real, I woke up FULLY alert! Yes! I did hear kids giggling and playing. It was not a dream. They were still giggling. “Okay,” I thought to myself, “no one is upset or anything. I guess I am not needed yet.” I turned towards the wall as faint kid noises continued.

Suddenly a little voice called my name. “Kissey,” Becci was calling. I rolled over half expecting that she needed help with her pajama buttons. She was standing in my bedroom with a pot in her hand. “Kissey, I need brefast,” she continued.

“Oh that’s sweet she is bringing me a kettle to make oatmeal,” I thought. I sat up and took the pot out of her hand, and told her that I’d be right there in a second. She immediately turned and bolted out the bedroom door and down the hall.

“Okay, Okay,” I thought, “I guess it’s time to get up.” I pulled myself out of bed and straightened the cover flat and went directly into the bathroom. “Brefast, could wait one minute more,” I thought as I closed the door.

I could hear children giggling as I entered the doorway of the kitchen. I was not prepared for what I saw. In the middle of the floor in front of the sink were my little brother Steven, and Becci. They were both sitting amid a horrible mess. Stevie looked up at me with a sweet smile. He was covered with little round cereal “O”s. They were stuck to his arms, butt, face, and in his hair.

A whole box of cereal was scattered on the floor all around him. He was playing pat-a-cake with the cereal. There was a trail of “O”s leading all the way to the doorway. I stepped further into the kitchen and immediately started losing my footing. As I started sliding towards the kids I grabbed the counters and still went down.

Agasp! I looked up and saw that a sticky white guck and little “O”s were stuck on the cupboards and the stove. In fact there wasn’t a surface that had not been stuck with cereal. “How could that be?” I thought. “How are the little “O”s sticking on things? Then I saw an empty bottle of liquid cooking oil on its side next to the stove. “And, what was the white powdery stuff all over everywhere?” I spied a container of laundry soap Becci had poured on the oil to clean it up.

“OH NO!” I blurted out. “GEESUS! What’s going on here?” I scared my little sister. She jumped and started to whimper and rub her eyes with her sticky soapy cereal hands. She started to explain, “I was jus makin brefast. Stevie made a mess, and I was cleanin it up!” She rubbed her teary eyes and started to scream, “My eyes! My eyes!”

I slid over to her and grabbed the counter as I hoisted myself and her up to the sink. I sat her up on the counter. I was slipping around as I was standing there washing her eyes with warm water from the sink. Stevie put his sticky, soapy, hands in his mouth and started gagging and crying.

Before I could turn to pick him up, my mom arrived from work and came through the kitchen door. “What on earth …,” she started to yell as she began sliding in my direction. In one quick motion both Mom and I hit the floor like bowling pins. We were so surprised we burst out laughing! We checked each other out and realized that nothing was broken. We continued laughing. We were sitting amid the oily slippery, wet, soapy, cereal. With a startled baby between us as we sat on the floor. We were now covered with cereal on our hands, feet, and every part that touched the floor. We looked like a real crazy ad for cereal!

We were both laughing so hard as we tried to get to our feet in the oily mess, we landed on our butts, again. As we tried to gain our footing, Becci, who was still on the counter, started clapping her hands and demanding to come down and play with us.

Mom began asking what happened at the same time that I was trying to explain what happened, all the while, baby Stevie began to cry again and Becci began demanding to get down and play with us! A flash of a skit from the Three Stooges went through my mind.

I took a deep breath and quieted myself long enough to allow Mom to finish her inquiry and then I tried to apologize for the mess and told her, “I don’t know! I slept in!”

Mom slid and scooted half on her butt towards the linen drawer for a couple of hand towels to help with the slippery mess as I grabbed the side of the sink and hoisted myself back up.

Becci was still watching with delight, clapping and yelling. “I want to play! I wanna play!” “No!” I barked. “We don’t need you getting hurt!” I continued. She started to fuss again. I turned the water on in the sink and added some dish soap. I told her to stomp in the bubbles. She got busy stomping and was quiet for the moment.

I grabbed the crying baby from the floor and set him, diaper and all, into the soapy water with his sister’s feet. “Ewe!” she screamed, “He’s gonna get me dirty!”

“That’s okay, “I offered, “You can help me clean him!” I grabbed a dishrag and started dissolving the stuck on cereal off from the baby’s face, being very careful not to get it into his eyes. She grabbed a plastic cup and started pouring soapy water on his back. Stevie started slapping the bubbles and splashing us both! It was all I could do to protect everyone’s eyes and stay standing at the sink. Every time I let go of the side of the sink my bare feet started spreading in opposite directions.

Mom had made it to the laundry room and returned with several dirty towels and the mop. She swabbed around my feet and gave me a towel to stand on. She threw other towels around the kitchen floor to soak up the mess. As she mopped up the sticky oily cereal she started lamenting, “What a waste of cereal, oil and soap the mess was!”

Crisis over, I finally asked Becci what she was doing making such a mess.

Becci was instantly defensive, “I did dent make a mess!” With a cute apologetic pout and teary eyes she started her story … “It’s not MY mess … Stevie did it! I was makin’ brefast! Stevie wan’ned to cook too, he got all that stuff and was mixin it. I was cleanin it, but it’s too messy! I fell down and dumpeded all of the cereal in his cookin, I was gonna cook oatmeal but I cuddent turn the buttons on! I wanid to make the bestess brefast forever! for you!” she continued … “I wanid a surprise YOU!”

“It sure was a surprise!” Mom and I laughingly exclaimed in unison. Mom and I both tried to tell Becci that “Four-year-olds cannot do everything their big sisters can do.” We encouraged Becci to make breakfasts for her dolls with her play dishes until she was as tall as me. We told her she could always help us fix breakfast but WE HAD TO BE THERE!

From then on I listened and got up with the first sounds I heard in the house. It was usually a kid looking for water.

Sometimes I would be surprised and it was Mom. That’s when I would get a little quiet time to visit with her. And that has made for some of the “Bestess Mornings Forever!”

The Love of a Dog

Lee Murray

The Oklahoma rancher was driving his truck through town late one cold, rainy afternoon when he spotted a little black and white dog on the side of the road shivering. He pulled over and approached the dog.

“Come here, little pup,” he said and picked the dog up, put it in his truck and covered it with a blanket.

The rancher drove around town to see if anyone might be looking for a lost pet, but there was no one in sight so he took the dog home with him to his ranch.

The little one was a small terrier who was overjoyed to be out of the cold and quickly made himself right at home in front of the Franklin stove in the center of the main room.

The rancher and the terrier became fast friends. The rancher’s wife had only recently passed away after 35 years of marriage and he dreaded being alone in his empty house.

The little dog provided the company he so badly needed. He loved spoiling him with treats, toys and things to chew on. Not content with all those items, the little terrier loved to chew on the rancher’s shoes and slippers much to the owner’s exasperation.

He lived on a big parcel of land so there was plenty of space for the dog to run and play and the rancher loved to indulge him, throwing sticks and balls and anything else the little dog could run and chase after.

After losing his wife, he didn’t feel like he was capable of loving anything or anyone ever again but the little terrier stole his heart and the two became inseparable.

As soon as the rancher would walk through the door, he’d say, “Where are you little pup?” And the little dog would come running full speed to greet him showering him with love and affection. The rancher responded with big hugs of his own. He found a dog bed at a pet store that he set in front of the fireplace and the little terrier was thrilled to spend a good part of the day curled up there.

At night, the rancher, covered up in blankets of his own in his favorite chair dozing off only to wake up with the little terrier stretched out next to him sleeping soundly and looking as comfortable as a dog could be.

The rancher loved that little pup and would have kept him forever had fate not intervened. One day in town, he saw a poster nailed to a bulletin board outside a general store with a picture of the little terrier underneath the words: LOST DOG. The dog’s owner clearly had lost his little dog and was trying to find him.

With a lump in his throat, the rancher called the number and explained that he had the little terrier and gave the owner his address.

Shortly after, a car pulled up to his ranch. A family got out and knocked on the door.

The little terrier recognized the family immediately and ran out to greet them.

“Chester!” they exclaimed. “We missed you so,” showering their lost dog with unbridled affection.

“I don’t know how to thank you sir,” the owner exclaimed. “We stopped for gasoline in town the day he got lost. Somehow, he got out the car door. It was starting to get dark and we couldn’t find him anywhere. We’re just so thankful to have him back.”

“I was just glad to take care of him,” the rancher said with a catch in his voice. “He’s a wonderful little dog. Let me go inside and get his things.”

With a heavy heart and eyes full of tears, he went inside and retrieved all the chew toys along with the dog’s new bed and brought them out to the car.

“Goodbye little pup,” he said as the car pulled away. Little Chester hadn’t forgotten who rescued him though and looked longingly out the window at the rancher as the family left his property.

The rancher was heartbroken. How he missed that little dog.

Two days later, there was a knock on the door. It was the family who had come by to pick up Chester.

The man was holding a tiny puppy that looked like a carbon copy of Chester. The man explained, “Before he was lost, Chester sired some pups with another little dog who lives near us. The mother gave birth only a few weeks ago to a litter of puppies and we wanted you to have one. We all felt bad because we could tell how taken you were with Chester and were so appreciative of all you did.”

Handing him the tiny black and white puppy, he said, “I know this little guy will have a good home here.”

The rancher was just thrilled with the man’s gesture and as he waved goodbye, he smiled and said, “Well little pup, it’s just you and me now. You’ll be happy here.”

Friend, Foe

Michelle Macomber

One of the foes of aging is the inability to recognize your surroundings. Unfortunately, it is not a problem that is monopolized by the elderly. My mother-in-law seems to have been born with it.

She was born and raised in a city in the north of Japan, where she still lives today. It is a medium-sized city full of museums and historic places. For most of her life, she lived right in the center of town. The high holidays in Japan are New Year’s, at New Year’s, and the Dead People’s Festival, on August 15. Culturally they are about the same as our Christmas and Easter, with family gathering at someone’s house and big meals.

Every year, twice a year, my mother-in-law and I prepare the food that will be served on the high holidays. I go to stay at her house three days before the holiday, dragging my dog with me because no one at my house wants to look after her.

Two days before the holiday we go shopping. The day before the holiday we prepare the food. The day of the holiday there is a short ceremony in our house to honor the ancestors and the recently dead in the early morning. Sometimes they will go visit the graves. Usually, we go to visit relatives in the area. In the evening all of our family, some 15 or so people, will gather to eat dinner together. By this time, the rest of my family has usually joined us at my mother-in-law’s house. The following day we will pack up our belongings and return to our home, content that our family is healthy and happy, and already looking forward to the next family gathering a few months hence.

I’m telling you this so that you know that everything ends happily, even though at some point in my story you may think we will never make it back home.

I’ve been married for over 30 years, and every year, even before we got married, I helped my mother-in-law with the shopping, cooking and serving of the meal at the high holidays.

I have never had any trouble finding my way around, in fact, I’m rather good at laying a mental map of my surroundings. And I can usually find my way back to some place that I have only been to once or twice. In the beginning, it would take us almost a whole day to do the shopping, even though we started at about 7 o’clock in the morning. Of course, I was young and naive and really wanted to give a good impression to the woman I was pretty sure didn’t really want me in her family.

We would start the day with a quick cup of coffee, make sure there was something for my father-in-law to eat, in case he got hungry, and off we’d go. It was always the same four, maybe five stores. The first place we would go would be the big supermarket to get most of the fresh vegetables we needed. I knew the direction, but I didn’t know the details. When I asked her to tell me how to get there she would say, “Oh, let’s see.” Then she would wait until we were right in the center of the intersection in the middle lane and say, “Oh, turn left here.” No problem. We would double back and make a right onto the street. We would get about 100 yards along and she would say, “Oh, dear.” Which meant that she had made a mistake and the street she wanted was farther back, or maybe farther ahead.

I never got angry, but it was an exhausting exercise. By the end of the day we would arrive home and all I wanted to do was crawl into my futon and go to sleep.

Like I said earlier, I never have any trouble finding my way around. However, when my mother-in-law takes her place in the passenger seat something happens to my inner sense of direction. It took me over 25 years before I could make that mental map, and that was only because of Google.

These days I just ask her where she wants to go and I type it into Google Maps and we are there within minutes. The entire shopping spree takes about one hour and a half. We have a very nice lunch together and then we go home before noon. Our family time together has gotten even better.