When my sister Brenda’s husband Larry finally got to come home from the Navy they settled in Childress, Texas. This is where his family was from. Every summer, taking turns, we boys got to go stay a week in the summer with her. It was some of the best times of my life. It was during this time that Brenda was free to make her decisions, raise her family and become herself. Brenda was a natural homemaker, it suited her well. She was an awesome mother and as I remember a doting wife. Brenda never drove, never got a driver’s license, but we were always going somewhere. We would walk to the Childress park and fish in the park lake. That was fun. Mostly though, her father n law Elmer Arnn would take us fishing. I remember catching grasshoppers, worms and crickets, putting them in a jar and using them for bait. Elmer always knew where the best spots were. Sometimes it was just he and I. By this time of my life, I had no grandfathers and he filled their place seamlessly. He lived to be into his 90’s. Brenda’s new family were great people, we all accepted one another for who we were, not for what we had. I miss them. During the week we would stay with her, we were allowed to sleep late, have late breakfast, and go to the feed store with Larry. He was strong, he would fill those 100-pound bags with grain and just pitch them in a pile. I will never forget the silty itch, the grainish aroma and how hot it was in the feed store. The grain was emptied in a bin. The bin had a place for the tote sack to be placed under. Larry would fill it, weigh it and tie it up. It was dimly lit in the area he worked and was close to the railroad with a dock. I remember him giving me a coke when all the grain had been emptied into the tote sacks. I wasn’t much help, I was too small, but I would whittle sticks and watch him work. It was a short friendship of only 7 years before Brenda passed, but in those short years, bonds were made that could never be broken, he had become my brother. After Brenda died, everyone just went their separate ways. Larry remarried, and we didn’t see anyone anymore, that was very painful and I still can’t compute it today. I never understood as a young man why everything stopped, it just did. We probably saw David about 4 times in 10 years and he was only 60 miles away. David didn’t get to come to either of my parents (his grandparents) funeral. It was God’s plan I suppose. Getting back to Brenda though. She was a spotless homemaker who loved hobbies. Baking was one of them and her coconut cream pies were awesome, everyone was happy then. Brenda saved all of her Styrofoam egg cartons. Often, she had what seemed like dozens of them. I can still see her dainty hands and polished fingernails with her Elmer’s glue, glitter, colored straight pins and Styrofoam balls of different sizes. She would go to the variety store and buy little dolls, different heights, up to probably a foot tall. She would collect all of her paraphernalia, take it to the kitchen table. We would gather around, sometimes getting to help, but she was pretty anal and didn’t like her stock bothered, for she knew exactly what she needed. She would take her egg cartons and cut out the bottom of each individual area the egg had been placed, until she thought she had cut enough. She pretty much had a routine down and had a count of how many she needed. She would take the largest Styrofoam ball, cut it across the bottom until it was flat with a piece of cardboard glued to its bottom to keep it stable. She would then put it on the bottom, select a smaller sized one and put it in the middle and then take the doll and push it through both of them until it stopped, or just the waist up of the doll was exposed. She would then start at the bottom with a little Elmer’s glue and a colored straight pins placing the cut-out egg cartons until she went all the way around. Then the next row, until the Styrofoam balls had been covered in colored egg cartons with a colored pin stuck through the middle of each of them, showing a little darker color or lighter color ball in the center of each. She would stitch a small jacket or shirt from a small piece of material and put it on the doll. Sometimes rows of same color or multi colored glitter would be glued in between the spaces of the carton pieces. She made beautiful dolls with a great imagination for detail. One of my biggest disappointments is not having one of the dolls she made. She would sell them for a couple of dollar apiece. When getting us ready for bed, she would read Harlequin romance novels at bedtime, leaving out the parts she would snicker at. She was such a great big sister. I can recall what then seemed like a large bath tub, when reality it was standard. It didn’t have legs on it like the ones we were used to. Her towels smelled so good. If only we had had more time, what might she have made?
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