Seventh grade. When I first started thinking about what I was going to share about seventh grade my mind was blank. I couldn't think of anything worth sharing. Then I remembered that was the year I turned 13 and the year I lost my grandpa to lung cancer and the year that I hyperventilated at a church camp outing. What a year!
The year started like any other. I was 12-years-old and liked a boy (which just so happened to be the boy from the prior year...my best friend and the boy I "dated" off and on for the next eight years). I don't remember who asked who but we finally ended up being boyfriend and girlfriend again. And of course...how much can you really be boyfriend and girlfriend in 7th grade? We held hands at football games and smooched behind closed doors (shhhh - don't tell my mom!). When I turned 13 on November 15th I didn't expect anything from my boyfriend. But when I unwrapped a gold bracelet with 13 C's and 13 hearts on it - I was so surprised! I still have that bracelet. It hangs in my jewelry box with the necklace he got me the next year (after we'd broken up and gotten back together).
He is one of those guys that will always have a little special place in my heart...when we went out for dinner last week we even reminisced some about things like meeting at the park between our two houses and going to the waterfall - we'd sit for hours on a stone wall and talk about school and our parents and our siblings (his older sister and my younger brother). The fact that I have known him all of his life (he's a month and four days younger than me) has created a very special bond between us.
In January of that year our youth group went on weekend camping trip. I wanted to go but then again I didn't. My mom and brother and I had been spending every weekend with my grandparents. My grandpa was battling lung cancer and we went every weekend to see him and to stay the night. I didn't want to miss a weekend with my grandpa but then again I didn't want to miss the camping trip either.
So I'm at this camping trip... I don't remember many details really - other than the fact that I thought I was going to die. As an asthmatic, I could come up tight-chested and wheezing just because. I could be watching TV and suddenly, I couldn't breathe. I remember the youth group leader (or maybe he was just a parent along for the trip) giving me a paper bag and breathing into it. I'm sure I had my inhaler with me (I still don't leave the house without it) but it just wasn't cutting it that night. I finally was able to get calmed down and breathe again. It was a bit scary there for a while though.
Shortly after that camping trip, we lost my grandpa to lung cancer. It was February 15, 1991 and it is a day I'll never forget. There at the end, my mom wouldn't allow my brother or I to go to the hospital. She wouldn't let us go into the funeral parlor for the family open casket time either. She wanted us to remember him how he was before he got sick. Sometimes now I forget how he looks...I have to find a picture to see him better. I don't remember how he smelled anymore either. He is one of the reasons I'm so involved with Relay for Life.
And the afternoon of the burial service...I just about had a heart attack. My grandpa was one of 14 kids - a huge family and the boys all looked the same. There were no twins, but they could all pass for each other. Actually, one of the stories goes that my grandpa and family went "home" to Kentucky (they moved to northern Indiana when my mom was in elementary school) and one of the brothers had moved and my grandpa didn't know the new address. So he stopped at the old neighbor's house, asking for his brother's new house. The people in the house gave him the information and as he turned to walk away, he could hear through the screen door, "Well that Belt is so drunk he doesn't even know where his new house is." My grandpa said it was the funniest thing ever...he didn't even go back to set them straight either.
Anyways, after the burial service and family dinner, all of the family went back to the house and were just spending time together. I walked into my grandparent's bedroom and there my grandpa sat at the end of the bed. I gasped out loud, turned white as a sheet and slowly turned to walk out (my brain was all fuzzy I couldn't think to even move my feet hardly). He said, "Casie, it's okay...it's me, Alton."
Whoa. Relief. It was my great-uncle Alton, one of my grandpa's "twin" brothers. That was one ghost-like experience I'll never forget.
This is my ninth post with Mommy's Piggy Tales recording my memories in just 15 weeks. If you're interested in doing the same for yourself, swing by her place to check it out!
Click here to read my post from last week, where my sixth grade memories are about growing up, Girl Scouts and puppy love.