"What stories have you been told about yourself as a baby?"
It's a short story, frequently told by my mother to explain one of my fears. It occurred when we lived in Savanna, Oklahoma. Mom set me on the floor while she put away the groceries. Suddenly, she heard blood curdling screams. She rushed to pick me up and figure out what was wrong. Clutched in my chubby fingers was a stinging scorpion! So my continued fear of spiders originated with this encounter with a stinging scorpion.
One of my most vivid spider memories occurred in a motel somewhere between McAlester, Oklahoma and Houston, Texas. After a family reunion in Oklahoma, my niece, Susan accompanied me on my return trip to Houston where we lived. Lance joined us for part of the reunion, but didn't stay the entire time due to work obligations. Susan was in college at the time, Sara was a baby, and Blake was almost three. And why on earth did we need a motel room for a drive that only takes eight hours? Well, Blake was sick with a stomach virus. (While it's tough having a child with stomach distress away from home, I can report that setting soiled linens outside the door and receiving clean linens in return is much easier than dealing with the soiled linens yourself. But I digress.)
Upon arrival in our motel room, I discovered a gigantic spider (the size of my hand!) in the bathtub. Did I grab the nearest shoe and smash it to smithereens? No, that duty fell to my niece Susan. I stood nearby and offered encouragement, but Susan was the heroine of the hour.
Fast forward to the summer of 2021. Hannah's planned wedding had been postponed once already due to the pandemic and we were determined that she would have a bridal shower. We planned carefully, Mother Nature cooperated, and we had an outdoor brunch. Our youngest attendee was Oliver. He spent most of the shower snuggled next to his mom in a front pack, but when all efforts to comfort him failed, Sara spread a blanket on the floor to see if he could settle himself and fall asleep. Why hadn't we thought to bring a pack and play? While setting up for the shower, I spotted a huge spider just outside the library door of our church where we were hosting the shower. I stood by with words of encouragement while Laurie took care of the hairy intruder.
Sixty-five years after my own stinging scorpion encounter, I was terrified that a spider would find sweet Ollie. I hovered, keeping careful watch. If a spider had appeared, it's a sure thing that I would have insisted that someone else be the smashing aggressor while I stood nearby offering words of encouragement.
And that brings me to a final observation. How on earth did I (a bona fide spider hater who believes that the only good spider is a dead spider!) raise a daughter who captures spiders in cups and and carries them outside to release them back into their natural habitat?
This is my eleventh year of participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. This year I'll be mining my memories for stories to share.
First story: My sister informs me that my scorpion encounter as an infant was in Tulsa, OK, not Savanna. We had returned from a trip to McNally Flat to visit the grandparents and it was my dad who set me on the floor while he unloaded the car.
Second story: I texted my niece a link to this slice, asking if she remembered the night in question. Here's her response, sent to me by text.
(Chapter 2 from my niece's point of view!)
"Oh, do I ever!! I don't remember being the heroine of the hour. I don't remember having a choice haha! I do remember smacking that spider with a shoe and then it just disappeared!! Apparently the force of the smack flipped it up onto the floor mat that was hanging over the edge of the tub. But, it was dead! I still hate spiders and worry they are going to pounce when i take my eyes off of them. But, I would rather smash it and see its dead body than wonder where it may have crept to otherwise."
My response: "Written like a fellow spider detester!"
Her response: "Haha! Do you remember not seeing it after we (I!!) smacked it?"
My response: "I don't. Selective memory, so I can continue functioning in a world full of spiders!"
response: "And I remember you saying, 'But, Susan, you have to kill it
before Blake sees it! If he sees it, he'll never come in the bathroom to