I had a unique childhood.
Everybody says that, I know. But really…
My dad was a traveling evangelist, and until the 6th grade, our home was a Kountry-Aire 5th wheel travel trailer. We spent 45 or so weeks on the road, crisscrossing the U.S. By the time I was 12, I’d seen most of North America, touched my toes in the water on both coasts and eaten breakfast at a Shoney’s (or Elias Brothers or Frisch’s, depending on the region of the country) in almost every state of this fair union of ours. Top that.
While there were many advantages to this lifestyle (see earlier comment about Shoney’s), my parents knew there was also a cost. We saw our friends rarely, and we didn’t have a house with a yard and a tree house. So, mom and dad went to great lengths to make sure we didn’t miss out any more than we had to. Add that to the fact that in our house, holidays (all holidays) were big. B.I.G. These were the formative years where I was taught to grab every reason to celebrate. I’m still a believer.
With this backdrop, we come to the Halloween of 1981. We were on a long stretch of interstate, and for hours my dad had been searching for a haunted house. I don’t recall whether or not I had asked for a haunted house – but it was halloween, blast it, and we were going to get the bejeezers scared out of us. The afternoon drug into the evening, and the hours and the miles ticked away with no haunted house or spooky mineshaft or crazy Zombie corn maze to be found.
It was past ten, and my dad pulled into a dark Kmart parking lot (I know, Kmarts are scary – but it gets worse). My folks told my sister Vonda and me to stay in the truck while they went to work. My dad must have gone to the dumpster to pull out cardboard boxes. Fifteen minutes later, a screechy, spooky voice (my mom) insisted we enter the trailer. We had to crawl on hands and knees through the Mine Shaft of Horrors pieced together by cardboard scraps. Lights flashed as my parents howled and screamed and boomed. They hit the boxes and made clanging noises. It was terrifying. And I loved every minute of it.
There are things a parent does for the sheer fact of love. Some of those thing are crazy little moments like pulling cardboard boxes out of a dumpster and screaming your head off so your boy and your girl can pee in their pants and have a good halloween.
Well, mom and dad, it matters. Thank you.