When we lived in a parsonage, I slept on the fold down couch with at least one of my sisters and our dog woke me up one morning by licking my face. Not a pleasant experience, that. As a matter of fact, I hated it. How do people like to let their dogs lick their faces?! That's when I traded places with my sister and slept on the wall side of the couch. Other people in my family were more tolerant of Teddy and his affection.
Teddy was as loyal and protective a dog as anyone has ever described and he was with us for quite some time. He waited by the door at ungodly hours to see our father off to work, even on his days off. We all have memories of his following each of us all over the place and we were not always together. It was if he could be in several places at one time. All this to say that our annoying, barked-too-much little dog is a fixture in these memories, as well. Magic little mutt.
There were five of us seven siblings, at the time, living with our parents. One hadn't been born yet and the eldest was in college. My father was a roughneck, an oil rig worker. I remember a time when I didn't feel as if I needed to explain what that term meant. Mostly, to us, it meant we had to move a lot. Had to follow the work, and pull up stakes, as it were, at any given time during the year. During this particular year, I attended five different schools in two different states.
The year we lived in a parsonage, we lived in a couple of different houses in a couple of different towns for little longer than a couple of months. I can't even remember how long, really, which is very puzzling in light of the fact that it was one of the most favorably memorable times in my childhood! My sisters have similar regard for that time, and we often mention something about it, but still I'm just not sure how long we were there.
This much I remember, some of it quite vividly and some of it very vaguely:
My mother went to a PTA meeting one evening, or maybe it was a Town Hall meeting, or maybe it was both in one, leaving her rag-tag brood at home to wonder what in the world went on at a PTA/Town Hall meeting! It got dark early in the Colorado hills and I remember that evening as being very mysterious and even somewhat dangerous. I mean, weren't we living in a parsonage with an off-limits, most certainly haunted, boarded-up second story floor? We had no phone, our father worked graveyards, and where was this weird PTA meeting, after all?
Did a couple of the younger ones go out in search of her? Down the road maybe, where there were some lights glowing in the distance? Was my mother embarrased when her kids came looking for her? Someone got scolded that night. Probably some older children for not preventing the younger ones from going out after dark alone in a strange town. But really, what did we know? They were probably the safer ones, with who knows "what-or-who" might have been hanging around behind locked doors upstairs! We had grown up playing out in the dark, after all, often escaping impossible to sleep on backyard army cots in the middle of hot, Southern New Mexico nights, to go in search of whatever creatures inhabited those fleeting cool, dark and refreshing hours. Outdoor dark was much less scary than inside unknowns.
A few days, weeks, moments? later, we moved from the parsonage in one town to an old farm house higher up in the hills in another close-by town, but of course, only within town-limits, as we were not in town. We were in the glorious, wide-open, adventure-rich countryside! Never before had we had such wild and wooly wonder at our fingertips and right under our beds, too, if you will.
To be reverently and longingly continued...