Long-term Memories

UnknownThanksgivings are for memories.  Here’s one.

We used to wrestle with my father.  And despite the fact that we had numbers on our side, it was always a suicide mission.  We’d throw ourselves at his great tree-trunk legs, trying to bring him down and he would swat us aside like Godzilla dispensing with the Japanese army.

Eventually, he would end up on the floor (probably to prevent crushing one of us) and we would swarm over him, Lilliputians trying to hold him down.  In the end, he would stack us up, one on top of the other, holding us down with one hand while tickling us with the other.   He would laugh until tears came out of his eyes.

As we grew older, we could compete on size as well as strength. And there were more of us – six to be exact – with my sister Jean and my youngest brother Bean, every bit a part of the carnage. My older brothers and I would leap off chairs and the living room couch to cling to my father’s back while the littler ones tried to trip up his legs.  I distinctly remember my mother positioning herself in front of the new color television set to ensure that no one put a foot through it.

It was still a one-sided affair.  My dad had this ju-jitsu-style move he had learned in the Marine Corps that he employed to overcome any and all attacks.  No one was immune.  His hands would spin in an odd-figure eight maneuver and we were forever at his mercy.  It always ended the same – bodies strewn everywhere – all of us collapsed in laughter.

Now that we are grown, agreement is rare in my family.  We don’t share the same political views, work in the same profession or even all practice the same religion. Some live on the east coast, some on the west, some in the north, some in the south.  “All Chiefs, no Indians,” my mother often says.

Yet deep down, we know we are still connected – indelibly bonded by a decades-old, suicide mission to wrestle my father to the ground and make him laugh until the tears came out of his eyes.   We few. We very few…

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