Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Forever Gone

**This post was originally published in May 2012 but was the perfect fit for one of Mama Kat's writing prompts.

Third Grade- 1979

The red brick school sat like a crown on the top of a mammoth hill surrounded by bluegrass and  20 foot dogwood trees. The pink flowery blooms bursting with color.

There were only 3 of us left. Mrs. Marks, Abby and me.

 It was eerie to be in the nearly vacant school...hearing the click-clack of high heeled shoes on the dark grey tiles as the teachers walked down the long, empty hallway.

The wheels of the mop bucket grinding to a halt and the water sloshing to the floor as Mr.Fletcher diligently washed away another day of dusty footprints, cracker crumbs, and kid grit.

Looking out the window- wishing, hoping, knowing the next car HAD to be my mom's enormous white station wagon.

We were going swimsuit shopping after school but my mom was late.

She was rarely late picking us up.

Abby was my best friend and her mom was late too.

Mrs. Marks sat at her brown metal desk grading papers and re-arranging piles. Our principal, Mr. Sword rushed in wearing his trademark gray 3 piece suit.

His footsteps slowed as he entered the room and glanced at the two 8 year olds looking out the window. Two little girls waiting on their moms.

There were hushed, frenzied whispers. Mrs. Marks took a few deep breaths before pushing herself away from the desk and walking quickly across the classroom. She asked for our help...plants needed watering, pencils sharpened, the chalkboard cleaned.

We were thrilled to be chosen...to be part of the secret society of after school.

When we finished our very important jobs Mrs. Marks invited us to go through a huge stack of extra worksheets. She knew how we loved to play school and told us to take whatever we wanted. We could have them all! We could even take the extra reading workbooks.

 My mom came racing in, out of breath and flustered. Across the room, she and Mrs. Marks spoke quickly and quietly.

It was decided that Abby would go home with us. She was my best friend but I was crushed that I wouldn't get to buy a new swimsuit that day. I might have been a little mad at her too.

We played outside mostly..riding bikes and practicing the 3-legged race for field day. We had been partners since first grade. We hadn't won yet-or even placed- but we clung to the hope of a first place ribbon.

The shrill ring of the black rotary wall phone had mom racing across the yard, the metal door slamming in her wake. She balanced the phone on her shoulder, passing out popsicles and nodding, "uh uh, uh huh. ok."

A few hours later Abby's mom and college age sister (who I barely knew existed)  pulled up in a light blue VW bug. The moms talked over our heads and then sped off down the street.

My mom called me inside to tell me that Randy died. He had been playing tennis and had a massive heart attack.

 Her daddy was gone.

Forever.



Linking up with yeah write for another amazing challenge.


74 comments:

christina said...

oh christ, Robbie. what a haunting memory. :(

Anna said...

Pretty much same thing happened to me when I was in 5th grade, but it was my step dad who didn't show up to pick us up. It was my brother's birthday. He had a heart attack at 32. To this day I go bat shit crazy when people are late.

Treading Water in the Kiddie Pool said...

Stop making me cry at work! Terrifying how life can change while we go on about our daily tasks, oblivious to it. My mom was 13 when she lost her dad and it's something she has never recovered from.

Robbie K said...

Oh my gosh!! I cannot imagine the panic and heartbreak. so sorry for your loss.

Robbie K said...

yes. Exactly that.

Robbie K said...

It is terrifying. I don't think anyone can really recover from losing a parent...just get thru one day and the next.

Kimberly Speranza said...

Oh my. This is so well written. I had a similar experience when my grandfather died. This piece took me right back to that day. haunting.

Kristin @mondayswithmac said...

The suspense in this post is haunting. I was waiting for the tragedy to hit. How awful.

Robbie K said...

Thanks for your kind words. Sorry about your grandfather. those memories stay, don't they?

Robbie K said...

thank you. It was horrible and only the start of a string of tragedies...

Fritter said...

I'm sure the sound of that phone is something that will forever stick in your ear. I'm sorry. What an awful day, beautifully written.

Louise Ducote said...

What a well-told story, haunting and sad. I once had to pick a little girl up from school knowing that her mother had been killed in a wreck that day. Took her home with my boys and did my best to be normal until her father could come and tell her the next day. Watched her shriek and play happily with my kids, knowing her life was about to blow up. Interesting to hear your tale from the other side; great post as always.

KimP said...

Oh wow that was SO well-written. Every single detail. I remember being that age and I could feel how you were feeling.

Great job.

~The G is Silent

Stephanie B. @B4Steph said...

Robbie, that was so well set up. The build up of tension - we know something awful is about to be revealed we just don't know how bad it will be. I was holding my breath. How incredibly sad, too, to lose a parent at that age. Any age, really, but at 8, wow. Lovely details in the story - the pink flowery blooms, the sound of the mop bucket and the slosh of water, your mom passing out popscicles. Really well written.

Robbie K said...

Thank you and you're right the shrilling phone still gets me.

Robbie K said...

Thank you so much. As a parent now I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for you knowing she was enjoying the last moments of life as she knew it.

Robbie K said...

Thank you. It's pretty easy to put myself back in that classroom looking out the window knowing something was up but not sure what it was.

Robbie K said...

Thanks for your thoughtful, kind words. it means so much to me to be able to put into words a moment that altered my life.

Donna B. McNicol said...

So beautifully written, I could picture myself at that age, sitting there, then helping the teacher. So very sad at the end...as life sometimes is. Well done!

The Preppy Girl in Pink said...

Such a tragic story but so wonderfully written! I was right there with you. I think your heart knows you are "heading home" to be with Big Yankee. You were relaxed in this writing and it came through beautifully!!

Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Horribly sad and shocking - I kept waiting to find out what had happened.

Emily said...

Oh, that's beautifully told, but terrible. No wonder that day is etched in your memory.

Gia said...

Ughhh, so upsetting. I remember when my friend came to school the day after her mom died. Sad.

Abby said...

How heartbreakingly sad. I wonder how your friend remembers that day.

Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms said...

This story was so skillfully told: the way the tragedy is processed in a 8 year old's mind, the haunting pace of it, the inconsequential details that are forever frozen in time. So sorry you had this tragedy in your life. Elolen

Jen at Kvetch Mom said...

Beautifully written, Robbie. So sad & moving

MamaMash said...

There are so many of these moments that I can't find words for. There's just a lump in my throat instead. You gave it text and released it, and it's so sad. But did it feel good to write it down?

Galit Breen said...

Ohmyheart, this is heartbreaking, and so very beautifully written.

(You're such a natural memoir writer!)

Kerstin said...

I love your style of writing. Gripping, yet simple and to the point. When I read your blog it keeps me thinking for a while.

Pish Posh said...

Oh goodness!! How awful. These memories leave indelible marks on our lives. I remember this happening to a school friend of mine too. It is terrifying to think of how fragile life is.

Beautifully written!

Cookie’s Mom said...

Oh my gosh. That's so incredibly sad. My father had a heart attack when I was young - his mother as well. There's no way to prepare for such a thing.

The Writer, Rinser, Repeater said...

I've lost two dads- my real dad when I was a kid and step dad a few months ago. There's just no getting over it. This was a beautifully written post.

Jack said...

That is so very sad and so wild, but not in the "good" sense. I have a few friends whose fathers died when we were little and I remember how hard it was for them.

Kim S. said...

Robbie, you have such vivid memories of your childhood and write about them so well I really feel like I was there watching the water from the bucket slosh to the floor. What a sad and painful memory though. Must have shattered your 8 year old worlds to realize something like this could happen so suddenly and unexpectedly. Terrific post!

Robbie K said...

thank you very much. it's something i'll never forget.

Robbie K said...

Thank you..you are so sweet! I am soo ready to be heading home to Big Yankee too.

Robbie K said...

it was awful..i can only imaging how my friend remembers the details of that day.

Robbie K said...

Thank you. Yes it is a day that i will never forget.

Robbie K said...

yes it was shocking and changed everything.

Robbie K said...

I remember talking about it sometime later..asking her how they told her. i'm curious what else she remembers.

Robbie K said...

I appreciate your comments..they are the best! Frozen in time..exactly that.

Delilah Love said...

That is so sad. How tragic to have reality crash in on you at such a young age.

Wily Guy said...

Wow. Some things you shouldn't have to endure as a child.

WG
http://itsmynd.com

Heidi said...

Robbie, this is so awful and crushing. I can't imagine what that must have been like for all of you.
And can I say that you wrote this so, so well.

Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

Oh, my gosh, Robbie. This tore my heart out. I can't imagine enduring that at such a young age. Poor Abby...and poor you. That's some kind of reality to have to face. :(

Wonderfully written though.

Robbie K said...

Thank you.

Robbie K said...

It did feel good to write it down...it was a long time coming.

Robbie K said...

Thank you very much for your generous compliments.

Robbie K said...

Thanks for reading and for your kind words.

Robbie K said...

Life can certainly change in an instant..and both of ours was forever altered.
Thank you.

Robbie K said...

I am sorry for you loss and you're right there is no way to prepare.

Robbie K said...

I am truly sorry for the loss of your dad and step dad. I cannot even imagine what i will do when it happens to my parents.

Thank you.

Robbie K said...

It definitely changed both of our lives and i can only imagine what she remembers of the day and those that followed.

Robbie K said...

It's strange how much more real those memories become when I write them down. They have been swirling around in my brain for ages.

Thank you.

Robbie K said...

It was heartbreaking and definitely changed our lives.

Robbie K said...

It was tragic and really changed things.

Robbie K said...

Thank you.

It was crushing and I had no idea how to help my friend. what 8 year old does?

Robbie K said...

Thank you. Our lives were forever changed. I often wonder how she remembers that day.

TriGirl said...

My very first best friend and I grew apart after a couple of years. But I still remember finding out about her mother's death when I was on the playground. And telling my mother later that day while she was driving us somewhere--it's lucky she didn't drive off the road with my insensitivity to the timing of it. Death of parents when they are young is so crushing. This girl actually just posted a message to her mum on facebook the other day. This was a beautifully written post.

My Whacamole Life said...

Wow - so beautifully written, with such anticipation. I feel like I'm reading the beginning of a novel! Well done. Are you able to share this with your friend? Though so sad, I bet she'd be so touched by the memory and it's indelible mark.

Michelle Longo said...

Such a sad story!! I felt the build up the whole time!

sugarnspicemakeseverythingnice said...

Oh no! I just wasn't expecting that! How sad!

Robbie K said...

Thank you! Things like that stay with us forever don't they. As a kid we don't understand the gravity of the situation do we?

Robbie K said...

Thanks very much. That day was the start of huge changes for my friend and I.

Robbie K said...

It's strange the details we remember in times like this.

kristin said...

I dreaded the ending for the entire story. Well done with the telling. Thank you.

Robbie K said...

It was heartbreaking and definitely a life changer.

Robbie K said...

Yes it was a very sad day. thank you for reading.

Jade said...

The hangout grid is GOOD! I have time to get around to everything at last, even if it is a week late! I too read through this with a feeling of dread...and, I'll admit, a feeling of relief that it wasn't your mum who passed away. A very sad and evocative story. I'm sorry for little Abby.

Stealing Mummys Mascara said...

This story gave me shivers - so haunting. Poor, poor Abby! xx

Robbie K said...

I love the hangout grid. i love the challenge grid. I love all that is yeahwrite!

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Robbie K said...

Yes...even many, many years later it gives me chills. It altered her life in unimaginable ways.

Your Doctor's Wife said...

Wow! That was not what I expected at all! Your story hit me in the gut! Very well done!

Patricia Purcell said...

That poor child! I remember a couple of kids losing their father's to accidents when I was in high school. I can't imagine being so young and facing that.