…9…10…Larry…Howell · 12 March 2011
Some people leave an indelible mark on your life and your heart. They do it in all sorts of ways. Spending time with you. Being there for you in times of trials and tribulations. Helping you pack when you are moving. Using a branding iron. And there is my favorite, making you do pushups.
If you are a regular reader (either real or imaginary), you might have thought this was going to be a more serious or sappy piece of writing, which I am inclined to produce every once in a while. But while I might venture into those realms, this is mostly an attempt at humor. So while using a branding iron on somebody’s heart would definitely leave a mark, in no way would I ever endorse using it as a means for helping somebody remember you.
Obviously, the best way to leave a mark on somebody’s life is to spend time with the person. Lots of time. My first published piece was about how we do not get to choose what is quality time, so we need to give people large quantities of time if we want to be part of their lives forever. And while giving this time might be difficult, it is the best way (besides a branding iron) to become linked to another person.
We have some friends that have left their marks on our hearts. We have only known Larry and Kathy Howell a couple years, but we have spent lots of time together. Our kids played together and had sleepovers. We had meals together. We celebrated birthdays and holidays together. We laughed and cried together. We became family.
We got to the point of not knocking when we went over to each other’s houses. The door would open and Kathy would lilt in her sweet sing song voice, “Knock, knock.” Or we would knock and open the door. It took me back to my younger days when we did that same thing going into our relative’s houses. We just went in, gave hugs all around, and then asked what was for dinner. And that is just what we did with the Howells.
Recently, the Howell family moved away. It has been different not hearing the door open followed by the familiar sing song, “Knock, knock.” It has been different to have somebody else in their house and not just popping over just to chat. It has been quite an adjustment to go from seeing them practically every day to not seeing them at all. Still, Larry decided that he needed to leave his mark on our kids before they left. And fortunately, he did not get out his branding iron.
When people come to our house, they often find kids doing pushups. It is not because I enjoy inflicting my children with a few muscles, although that is a nice side effect. The reason that kids are doing pushups is because like all children, mine do not always behave properly. When they misbehave, they get to do pushups. And it is not just my kids who get to do them. When other people come over and misbehave, they get to do them too. Usually, I do not make the adults do them, but everybody’s kids do.
Once the kids know the house rules, they get to get stronger when they break those rules. When they misuse the furniture, they do pushups. When they use forbidden words or phrases, they do pushups. When the kids are small, I often get down there with them. Or my kids do. Sometimes, it seems like it is a joke and the kids jump on or over the furniture just to do pushups. Then on the fiftieth one, they figure out that jumping on the couch or saying, “What the…” is not such a great idea.
Larry and Kathy’s kids did a few pushups at our house and they even started doing some at their own home. I do not know if it is one of those indelible marks at their house, but it has become one at ours.
We had Larry and Kathy over for dinner before they moved. (Actually, we had them at the house for a few days before we sent them off with hugs and prayers.) During that time, the kids did some pushups. Like always. Apparently, Larry did not want to get out his branding iron to leave his mark, so he did the next best thing. When Thing 2 was doing pushups one evening, Larry said, “You need to do something to remember me.” Peter looked up from his pushups. Larry continued, “After you get done with your ten for your dad, you need to do two more for me and say, ‘Larry Howell’ as you count.”
Thing 2 just smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and said okay. Then he promptly did 12. At the end he pushed up and bellowed out, “…9…10…Larry…Howell.” He got up and beamed. Larry beamed right back and gave him a hug. Everybody laughed.
Thing 2 has done many pushups since the Howell family moved. And he has kept adding those two pushups to the end. The other night, when I told him to demonstrate his technique to his brother who was not doing pushups so well, Thing 2 promptly jumped over the couch. He shrugged and declared, “If I am going to do pushups, I may as well earn them.” Then he pushed out his 10. Plus 2. “…9…10…Larry…Howell.”
We have not yet seen the Howell family since they moved, but I know we will soon. I am glad that we have become family and keep each other in our hearts and prayers. I am glad that we spent enough time together to put those indelible marks on each others’ hearts. I am glad that Larry did not get out his branding iron. And I am glad that every time Thing 2 does pushups, we get to remember our friends. “…9…10…Larry…Howell.”
© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi
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