|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Weeping WillowLessons of Loss and Love
By Michelle Scavarda
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Michelle Scavarda
All right reserved.
"Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk." ~ Susan Scarf Merrell ~
I come from a fairly large family and I'd have it no other way. There's just something warm about knowing someone is always there when you're part of a big family. I am the oldest of four children. Including me, there are two girls and two boys. In order, it's myself, Christopher, Annamarie and Matthew. Chris is two years younger than I am, Anna is five years younger, and Matt is nine years younger than I am. My mom has four siblings, and my dad has two, so including both sides of my family, all together, I have sixteen first cousins. I love each of my family members so very much and am so proud to be a part of this family. You know those funny little stories that weren't meant to be funny but are hysterical and only your family busts a gut laughing at them? I could spend hours with you telling stories like that about my siblings or my cousins ... but I won't right at this moment!
Because my brother Chris and I are only two years apart, we spent the most time together, and not always the most wanted time. We were in the same schools at the same time, hung out with many of the same friends, and helped watch over our two youngest siblings when needed. Chris was by far the biggest daredevil in our family, always coming up with some new idea on how to make life more exciting. One winter, after the movie Home Alone came out, he thought he'd try what the character, Kevin, did by sledding down the hallway stairs and out the front door. Our stairs are set up much like the McAlister family's in the movie, being that they are directly in line with the front door. He took his blue, plastic sled up the staircase and told me to hold the front door open; he was coming down. And there he went with his mouth wide open screaming his head off, down the stairs, out the front door, flying over the porch steps and stopping inches from the fairly busy road we live on. Needless to say, our mom nearly had a heart attack when she saw him fly out the front door.
My sister, Anna, has always been known as the quiet, sweet young girl out in public, but at home she has the voice of a lion. I shared a room with her until my junior and senior years of high school and for those of you girls who have a sister, you know all too well what it is like "sharing" clothes, and taking up each other's space. Although you cannot miss her around the house, she is always quick to ask if you're okay if ever there is something wrong. Anna was quite gullible growing up and believed pretty much whatever Chris and I told her as well as anything she heard. One time Anna came in from playing in the backyard one afternoon to tell Dad that she heard God speaking to her. She was rather excited and Dad asked her what was said. "Hello Anna, this is God talking," she said. Dad looked at her, perplexed, and asked where she heard God talk to her. She pointed towards a large maple tree on the right hand side of our yard, "Over there!" she exclaimed. As Dad looked over, he saw Chris nearly at the top of the tree, giggling that he'd gotten his little sister to believe he was God talking to her.
The age difference between my sister and me as kids seemed huge, and the same goes for my brother, Matt. He always seemed so little to me. No matter how much older he got, he would still be the littlest brother. He was always doing something cute or funny and with no intention of making it that way. We had gone out to dinner one night with family friends when Matt was around five years old. While sitting at the table, someone told a joke that children wouldn't understand. Matt kept asking what everyone was talking about and Dad said to him, "Oh, it's okay, Matthew, I don't think you'd understand, it's over your head." Matt was rather offended by his comment and began defending himself. "You know, Dad," he began, "I'm sitting down. If I stand up, it won't be over my head anymore." Matt always made us laugh, that's for sure, and he followed his three older siblings around all the time but mostly his big brother, Chris.
For the most part, we all got along fairly well despite the fights and brawls our parents saw. My goodness, did we have some big ones, and who mainly got the blame for most incidences? Usually it was Chris or I, whichever one hadn't really done it. Nevertheless, isn't that the way it usually goes with siblings? As a child, you smirk when you think you've gotten away with something that you did wrong but then it's completely unfair to you when you get the blame for something one of your brothers or sisters did. Oh, the joys of having siblings. But really, there are so many wonderful times and they outweigh all the teasing, punching, and shouting. I would do anything in my capability for my siblings, as well as I know they would do the same for me.
Chapter TwoRoad Trip!
"And that's the wonderful thing about family travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind." ~ Dave Barry ~
My grandparents on my mom's side live in Florida, about forty-five minutes away from Disney World, and my family visits them from our home in Westchester, New York, at least once every year. This place, by far, is my favorite place to go, as it is my siblings'. I always felt like I was in a fairy tale when I was there, not only at Disney but the property my grandparents live on. It is an escape from reality and the truth that the world holds.
You may think we are crazy but the six of us drive down in our van for just about an eighteen-hour trip. Nothing is better than spending a full day fidgeting and whining in the car with your family ... Not! The drives were rough when we were really little, but as we got older, spending the time together in close vicinity wasn't really that bad. In fact, it was pretty fun!
Dad used to set up the back seats with sleeping bags and pillows so that he could keep driving at night while we slept. We thought this was the coolest thing because when we woke up we were usually almost there. On one occasion when Matt was still in diapers, we woke up and he stunk so badly and was in dire need of a change. We were about five minutes from grandma's house. Chris and I were rolling him back and forth over the backseat bench because none of us (including Anna in the backbench with Chris) wanted to be next to a stinky diaper boy.
We could not stop laughing and we knew we were almost to our favorite place. We were all suddenly best friends when we arrived down there no matter what time it was; it was one of the best feelings in the entire world. Even if we quarreled down there, it didn't seem as important or huge as when we were at home. Our surroundings just pulled us in.
The land my grandparents live on was passed down in the family and they moved down there after living in Northport on Long Island, New York. Because of it being passed down, the land is very different from most pieces of property you would find available in Florida. This two-acre piece of land is surrounded by beautiful palm trees and various other tropical trees to the point where you can just barely see neighboring land and the busy road they live near. You cannot see their house from the road which makes it that much more peaceful. It is quite cool because of the shade the trees give and very serene.
My grandparents designed the house and built it after they retired. It is a one-floor house with three bedrooms and a beautiful back porch looking out into their densely wooded backyard. Minutes away from their home is a quiet freshwater spring in the depths of Florida's forests, very refreshing to say the least. The water is constantly being naturally pumped from underground and the temperature stays at 72°F year round. It is definitely a place to get away to; and what's better than being forty-five minutes away from Disney World, being able to go when we wanted? What a dream come true for any kid, and how happy we always were in this place.
Chapter ThreeRiding Into A Nightmare
"What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen." ~ Cynthia Ozick ~
I am currently twenty-six years old in 2011 and have been to Florida more times than my age; so many times that I cannot remember what happened on what trip and what year each one was. We have driven down with different aunts and uncles and for various holidays. On several trips we have met other family members living down in Florida for some great fun whether at Disney or at the beach.
One year we even met our close family friends, who are also our neighbors, right in the heart of Disney's Magic Kingdom for a full day of absolute fun together. Every year we would come back from Florida sharing with them, Frank (my age) and Maryann, a year older than Anna, and their parents how great it is. It was exciting to finally get to spend time together down there and create the memories that we did.
When we all went to dinner, taking a break from the rides, dessert was what all the kids looked forward to. We all got dirt and worms (crushed cookies and gummies) with our dinner meals. When it arrived, Chris and Frank convinced Matt that he was really going to eat dirt and worms. He was rather upset and insisted on getting another dessert. Frank and Chris thought they were clever because they were going to eat the extra dessert themselves but were disappointed when the dessert was given to Frank's sister, Maryann. I couldn't finish mine and Anna couldn't finish hers, so we both gave ours to Maryann too, who accepted the desserts with excitement. She had her own dessert plus three others and loved every bit of them.
We finished eating and immediately went straight for the hour and a half wait for Splash Mountain. There, we waited in line as Chris and Frank began to strike up a conversation with a girl from Georgia. They thought they were being slick until the little sister, Maryann, who just had four deserts, pushes her way through our group, up to Chris and Frank. She was extremely hyper and began telling her life story at warp speed to the Georgia girl. "Hi, my name is Maryann and I live at ... in New York. This is my older brother and these are our neighbors, Chris and Michelle. We're here in Disney ..." Her story went on. The boys were mortified that she would scare the cute girl away. If the Georgia girl didn't think we, as New Yorkers, talked fast before, she did now. Each trip has its own unforgettable story that will be told for years.
Florida trips, the stories and memories are all precious and priceless to me. My family has been so fortunate enough to have a wonderful place to stay in Florida without having to pay the normal expenses of a vacation. There have been some years that I remember being down there to celebrate my birthday at the beginning of March. How amazing it was to be down there at the very end of February when it was so cold and snowy in New York. Although as a kid I loved the snow, it was nice to have a warm, sunny break.
One Florida trip that I will always have imbedded in my memory was February of 2000. We went down with such great expectations for a relaxing vacation and drove right into a fairy tale dream. What we didn't know was that this was not a fairy tale which would have a "happily ever after." We had no idea we would be riding back into a nightmare.
Chapter FourThe Happiest Place On Earth
"If you can dream it, you can do it." ~ Walt Disney ~
The last week of February 2000, my family and I took our yearly trip down to Florida. I was 14, Chris 12, Anna 9, and Matt was 5. We arrived, unloaded and, of course, went straight to the freshwater springs to soak up the Florida atmosphere. Who could simply resist? The second we were done, my siblings and I asked my dad when we we were going to Disney because Florida would not be the same without it! We planned out the day(s) we wanted to go, the park(s) we want to go to and then planned around that fantastic day. This particular year we went to Epcot, the Magic Kingdom, and Sea World.
When it came to thrill rides and exhilarating activities, Chris was a daredevil, even more so than I was. I love intense rides but sometimes it would take some talking into by him for me to go on one. Together, we were always trying to get Anna on rides that she was just tall enough for; sometimes she wouldn't budge and other times we could coerce her into joining us.
On one trip, we tried so incredibly hard to get her on The Tower of Terror but she was refusing without some sort of bribe. In thinking that she would forget how we got her on the ride, Chris offered to buy her a T-shirt with a picture of the ride on it, and I told her that she could play with my "untouchable" porcelain dolls when we got back home in New York. That sealed the deal for her but, of course, our parents didn't know about the bribes until after we got her on the ride. They laughed at us when we all got off and Anna said, "Where's my T-shirt"? Needless to say, our parents made sure Chris and I went through with our end of the bargain.
Chris and I were always striving for both of our younger siblings to get on every ride they possibly could. This particular year, in 2000, Matt was transitioning between the kiddy rides and the awesome, higher thrill ones. You have to be 48 inches tall to be able to get on most of the larger rides. We weren't sure if Matt would make it so we stuffed his little shoes with soft toilet paper because we thought it would give him a few more inches. Sure enough, he was just tall enough to ride all the Big Mountains: Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. My dad was so ecstatic that Matt could get on all the rides that he took him by his little hand and practically dragged him up to the end of the queue in excitement. Chris and I giggled, knowing very well why our brother was able to get on the rides. At the end of the night, my dad carried Matt into bed and found the crumpled up toilet paper when he took off his shoes. "Oh, so that's why he was able to get on all those rides!" he said with a chuckle and then proceeded to stare Chris and me down with a smile and a look that said, I know you two were behind this.
The day we went to Sea World was on the chillier side for Floridians and other Southerners. It was a gorgeous day for us and we enjoyed the park not being so packed because of the "cold" weather. There weren't a lot of people there that day and the lines were short. We walked right on most rides and only waited five to ten minutes for others. In 2000, they had a new ride, Journey to Atlantis, a water ride. There were so many little surprises and we just loved it. We went on all together once and then Chris and I went on it repeatedly. I cannot count the amount of times we got off and then right back on!
The last day we were in Florida, on the 25th of February, we all celebrated my fifteenth birthday, which was six days later because of leap year. Grandma would always make me whatever dinner and cake I wanted; she spoiled me! I was given fifty dollars each from my grandparents and my parents to choose something I wanted from Disney. I was so excited, as I had been looking for a number of years for a glass globe with Cinderella's castle in it that plays the song, Wish upon a star.
My family and I looked all day for this globe while we were at Disney and it wasn't until we were walking out of the park down Main Street that Chris spotted it, all lit up in a shop window. It looked so beautiful and delicate with its dark wood base and glass globe. I was thrilled that he found it. He also found some other little gifts that he thought some of his friends would want. I remember that he spent all his vacation money on other people. While picking gifts out, Chris explained to me the meaning behind each and to whom each one was for. It was again, a true fairy tale. There was no better way to end our vacation than to be celebrating my birthday with family.
Excerpted from Weeping Willow by Michelle Scavarda Copyright © 2011 by Michelle Scavarda. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.