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  • There’s not a lot of happiness in our family history. As I think about it now, it’s mostly sorrow and tragedy that has shadowed our ancestors. And even shadowed me.

    Great, I want to write an up lifting story for you for your birthday and all I can think about are dark stories of sometimes unspeakable deeds committed by our family members. This does not bode well for my story idea.

    I want to tell you about love. And redemption. I want you to know that your life has meaning beyond the meaning you may or may not know it has now.

    I want to show you examples of truth and honor and love and happiness from your family and frankly, I’m hard pressed.

    Oh there are snippets of these things, these feelings and heartfelt smiles and even a few belly laughs.

    But even the belly laughs are often singed around the edges.

    I could tell you that my mother read to us every night. And that's why I did that for you.

    There was the time that Kent and I were bored and squirreling around the mobile home complex where our grandfather lived between ranches. We wandered the blank and tidy streets, kicked the occasional can and ran sticks on fence boards.

    Then we saw this huge drum barrel. It was taller than we were and we couldn't see what was inside. So we tipped it over.

    Out flowed all this dark oily goo. It made an interesting stream in the gully by the road, eventually pouring down a storm drain. We thought nothing much of it. I mean, it was a momentary distraction, but not what we had hoped.

    Hours later, back at grandpa's house, several angry neighbors stormed his front porch. Kent and I watched through the screen door at the hand-waving, stomping group. My father went out to see what was going on.

    We were grandpa's oldest grandchildren. He really doted on us.

    After everyone left, he came back in the house,chuckling and shaking his head.

    Dad, not so doting, came back in far less happy.

    "Did you kids get into some oil? In a barrel?" He barked.

    We nodded.

    "Well," grandpa said, "looks like I'll be moving soon."

    He ruffled our hair and left us to our father.

    Turns out... the barrel of oily goo went down into the well that supplied the entire mobile home park. In one fell swoop two kids under the age of 7 had fouled a well for 300 people.

    But, that’s probably not all that interesting or even funny to a man of 29 or so.

    I could tell you that I was a bed wetter. But there’s nothing really funny there.

    I could tell you about how magical it was the few misty mornings that Kent, Danny and I would silently steel out into a local orchard to pick wild asparagus. Mom showed us what it looked like and sent us out in the early morning dew on a few weekends to pick it for dinner. We had a basket and a knife I think.

    I just remember feeling like I was in a fairy tale. Low mist hung over the grass and weeds under the trees as we hunted for the little spears that matched the ones Mom had shown us. The world was cold and damp and muffled. Not even birds were yet singing. We made the only sounds, tromping through the grass. Shouting ‘hey, here’s some.’ To each other. Getting lost in the adventure of being on someone else’s land without permission and forgetting our mission.

    Looking over our shoulders to see if we were going to get caught. And then forgetting that Mom had cautioned us to be quiet.

    But I really want to tell you a story. Not memories. A story that entertains you. That you can get into. That isn’t too long…because I only have ten days to write, edit and finish this thing.

    I’m going to sleep now – I think the story will come over the next few days.
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