Category Archives: Childhood

Thanks, Mom

The relationship a daughter forges with her mother is a delicate, confusing and strong one.

At least that was my experience.

Growing up, my mom was everything to me. I wanted to be just like her. We had matching Wisconsin Badger ski jackets and beaded leather belts. During those tough preteen years my mom was my best friend and confidant. Things got a little rough through high school, but life is never perfect.

These days my mom holds a special place in my heart. We’re separated by nearly 800 miles, but she’s only a phone call away. And she receives that phone call every day. I’m her only child and she still calls me her ‘baby girl.’ In all honesty, I think in her eyes, I’m the five-year-old princess she helped raise. And I’m ok with that. Because she is still everything to me.

So on this Mother’s Day, I want to send out my thanks to her.

Thanks, mom…

For being there.

For listening.

For showering me with unconditional, everlasting love.

For teaching me how to bake. And for sharing the importance of sampling brownie batter.

For spreading your KC and The Sunshine Band love. And for encouraging impromptu ‘Shake Your Booty’ dance parties.

For passing down your classic style. And for teaching me that trends always come back around.

For instilling in me your fear of everything. And for letting me do scary things every now and again.

For arming me with the tools to be a successful human being.

For showing me what a strong woman looks like.

For everything — thanks.

I love you, mom.

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Midsummer’s Panic Attack


Before my dad committed the ultimate misdeed two summers ago and sold our ’92 Malibu Sunsetter  to a family that undoubtably loved it less than we did, countless summer hours revolved around ‘The Pink Boat’.  And while certain days spent skiing behind that pink and grey-striped beauty stand out more than others, there is one particular day that rises far above the rest.

The July sun was hot and Lake Wisconsin was glass calm and virtually vacant of boats as my friend, Danielle, and I heaved our heavy wood-plank swivel skis into the water before jumping in after them.  At the time, we were both fairly new to swiveling, a form of skiing in which the binding platform is mounted onto a wide single ski and able to rotate 360°.  As we treaded water and slowly detangled our respective ski ropes, my dad began to idle the boat while Danielle’s twin, Mallory, sat spotter.

With our right feet slipped into the swivel binding and our ropes pulled taught, we both hollered “Go Boat” before my dad pushed the throttle down and pulled the two of us out of the water.

One of the first tricks any new swiveler learns is the toe turn, a move in which the skier rotates 180° with her free foot slipped through a hold in the rope’s handle.  The opposite end of the ski rope is attached to a pin release, rather than a pylon, which allows the spotter in the boat to detach the rope, should the skier fall.

Coasting above the water, Dani and I each lifted our left legs and wriggled the soles of our feet through the toe hold in the rope.  Because we were just learning toe turns, we took turns rotating one-at-a-time.

With my right foot firmly planted on my gliding ski and left leg secured in the rope, I held my arms out to support Dani as she prepared to turn.  Dani gracefully lifted her arms above her head and simultaneously shifted her hips and shoulders to the horizon behind us as she turned backward with a click.

With Dani safely turned and riding backward on her ski, I relaxed a bit in my toe hold and began to survey the water beneath me.  Glints of silver flashes around the edge of the boat wake quickly caught my eye.

Just as my heart rate spiked and I came to the realization that the silver glints were actually what I can now only assume were hundreds of minnows, I opened my mouth to alert Dani of the trouble lurking below.  I was, unfortunately, a moment too late.  Tired of riding backward, Dani initiated her forward toe turn.

The recovery of a toe turn is more difficult than the initial turn.

At age 16, few things terrified me more than fish.

My blood curdling screams pierced the cottages surrounding Lake Wisconsin before my ski even sank in the water.

Dani had lost her balance on the recovery, which subsequently led to Mallory pulling the pin and releasing both of our ropes from the boat.  While Dani plunged into the water, I slowly glided to a stop, fully of the aware of my minnow-filled fate.

Once submerged in Lake Wisconsin’s brown waters the school of minnows that had been jumping along the moving wake were now jumping around us.  I frantically thrashed the water in an attempt to spook the little fish as they jumped onto my head and shoulders and bumped against my body.  Sixteen-year-old Kelsey Bewick was out of her mind.

My flailing only intensified when I accidently kicked an unknown solid beneath me.  Fearing that I had come in contact with a larger fish, or some unknown Lake Wisconsin water-creature, I began screaming and splashing uncontrollably.

It turns out the unknown solid beneath me was sand.  We had been pinned in only four feet of water and could have easily stood and gained our composure… but we were far beyond that point of return.

With my unreasonable panic attack raging in full force, my dad quickly maneuvered The Pink Boat to the scene of the crime.  Initially unaware that our screams were the result of being dropped into a school of minnows, my dad arrived thinking that one of us was seriously hurt.  To say that my he was not pleased upon discovering the cause of our frantic screams and unrestrained thrashing would be an understatement.

The Pink Boat was put away for the day following that episode.  And while I remained a bit leery about skiing amongst my minnow enemies for a few weeks following the incident, I did apprehensively return to Lake Wisconsin’s murky waters.

Seven summers later, not a year has gone by where Dani, Mal and I don’t look back on that fateful day and laugh in hysterics.  Because regardless if a day is generally awful or great, any summer day spent on a boat in the middle of a lake is memorable… some more than others.

The end of an era

Faded denim barely peeked out between the plethora of colorful Harley-Davidson patches and golden pins that adorned almost the entirety of my jacket.  The denim arms reached high toward the  handlebars– quite the stretch for a little girl– and the denim back contorted as  ballet-slippered feet reached out as far as they could.

This had become something of a Saturday morning ritual; my dad would leave for work and I’d follow him down to the garage.  Outfitted in my deep pink tights and ballet leotard, I’d grab my dad’s steady hand as I swung my leg around the leather seat of his motorcycle.  He’d position me toward the back of the bike and I would will my legs to stretch the few inches that separated the bottom of my shoes from the top of the passenger pegs.

When you’re feet touch the foot pegs, you can ride on the back of the bike, was the dreaded phrase I repeatedly heard growing up.

My dad has owned three Harley-Davidson motorcycles since I could speak.  I know this because just as many times as my dad reminded me that my feet must touch the pegs in order to ride, I’ve told others that my dad owned three bikes.  Some way or another certain conversations were always led there.

But as of March 20th my dad no longer owns three Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  My dad has two bikes now, and that number will soon be one.  It’s silly that one person should own three motorcycles, but as these constants leave our garage one at a time, I can’t help but feel like an era is ending.

 

It was always clear when motorcycle season had arrived on Tarragon Drive.  My dad would relocate his three bikes from the shed to the garage; thus displacing his truck, which would spend spring, summer and fall parked in the driveway.  The far side of the garage belonged to the bikes during those seasons.

Before my dad would take a bike for a ride, he’d wheel it out to the driveway, switch the ignition, rev the motor, and let the bike warm up.  This was my cue to fly down the steps and hop onto the back of the bike-in-waiting, in hopes that this day would bring with it a significant-enough growth spurt to allow my feet to touch the pedals.  Never the case.

As a child it was my official duty to keep an ear out for the rumble of my dad’s Harley roaring down the street.  He’d pull into the driveway and wait on his bike while I descended the steps to the basement and opened the garage door for him.  This situation tended to allow for yet another chance to test my leg-length.  Of course mounting the motorcycle after it had been ridden was a dangerous task due to the hot pipes running along the sides of the bike.  But being the Harley protege that I was, I clearly lived my young life on the edge and risked 2nd degree burns in hopes that my feet would reach the pegs this time.

On hot summer days my dad would wheel each of his three bikes out of the garage and onto the driveway to be washed.  In the same fashion he moved his motorcycles, I’d heave my majenta Trek bicycle out to the driveway alongside one of his Harleys.  My dad and I would meet in the middle, soaping our sponges in the same bucket before parting ways to to scrub the debris off our respective bikes.

Our family road trips were not mapped out according to cheesy tourist destinations, but instead routed according to Harley-Davidson dealerships.  My parents would even consult the yearly Harley-Davidson atlas that conveniently remained tucked behind the driver’s seat of our Blazer.  An hour or so down the road, it was not uncommon to hear my dad asking my mom where the next dealership was.  We’d even drive a good hour out of our way to stop at a previously unvisited dealership.

I credit the strong bond I had with my Grandma Stella to the amount of weekend/weeklong motorcycle trips my parents took while I was growing up.  They’d pack their belongings into the back of my dad’s H-D Dresser and I’d be shipped off to Grandma’s house.  Being that this was a time before cellphones, we’d only to hear from my parents when they’d found a hotel for the night.  While my Grandma Stella and I weren’t doing grandma-granddaughter things, we’d speculate about the souvenirs my parents would return with; this would undoubtedly always include at least two Harley-Davidson t-shirts for me to add to a collection that was already out of control for a girl who liked pink ruffles.

And before long, my feet did grace the top of the foot pegs on one of my dad’s smaller motorcycles.  My dad prepared me for my premiere ride by pushing a scratched black helmet onto my head and advising me to slip on my fringed Harley jacket.  I felt like the biggest boy.  I even made sure the tips of my ponytail fringed out the back of my helmet so that the neighbor boys wouldn’t doubt that I was still a girl.

 

To say that my childhood was sprinkled with memories of Harley-Davidson motorcycles would be an understatement.  I grew up associating my dad with his three motorcycles and I can’t help but feel a pang of sadness as I walk into our garage.  My dad’s black truck sits parked in the motorcycles’ former spot at the far end of the garage and one lonely bike leans on it’s kickstand, crowded between two vehicles.

Banana on the bus

Ask anyone who has spent time with me for more than a day and they will likely inform you that I love to tell stories.  They’ll then likely follow that up with a comment about how I’m the worst storyteller ever.

So a disclaimer before you embark on this story:  The following event took place in 2003 when I was in 8th grade and  nearly a decade later my best friends and I still laugh hysterically when we reminisce… this could be due to that fact that it truly is a great story or because we just laugh hysterically at a lot of things.  So to you, reader, this will either be quite funny or ‘you just had to be there’… which after the crickets have faded, is the line I use to end most of my stories.

An intense pang of fear overtook me as I gripped the plastic seat-top and ducked for cover.  I had feared this moment would come the second I stepped onto that after school city bus and saw the browned banana smashed into the grooved floor.

I cringed as I guided my K Swiss Classics around the annihilated fruit and took a seat in the back of the bus.

That 3 p.m. trip on the 115 began as every trip had.  Being that it was Friday, we had a slightly larger group of friends with us, as Friday was the day we took the bus to it’s final stop and walked a few extra blocks to Culver’s for a celebratory weekend kick-off dinner.  Middle school was stressful and we needed to unwind.  Frozen custard always did the trick.

I’m not sure which of my fellow bus-riders noticed the banana second.  (Being that I was born with an intense phobia of bananas I was, of course, the first to notice the overripe fruit; though in an attempt to avoid drawing attention to the brownish yellow monstrosity, I did my best to divert my stare).  But somebody obviously noticed it, because soon after the 115 pulled away from the curb the entire back half of the bus was conversing about that banana.

The next thing I remember, small chunks of smushed banana were soaring in every direction.  Being that a good majority of Sennett Middle School knew of my intense disgust toward bananas at the time, I felt like an obvious target.  My fight-or-flight senses kicked in and I abandoned my backpack and shielded myself  between the two-person seats in front of me.  While frantically ducking for cover, I envisioned banana chunks becoming tangled and mashed into my perfectly combed tendrils of hair.  It was then that I desperately called out for the madness to stop.

Just as was I retreating from my soapbox, an especially mashed wad of pungent banana began it’s beeline straight toward my head.  Assuming I couldn’t move quick enough to dodge this bullet, I franticly swatted my hand to protect my face. Within milliseconds, my powder blue glitter mitten had defiantly deflected the banana chunk.  A rush of relief came over me as the piece of banana fell to the seat before me.

My comfort was further bolstered as I looked up to see my savior of a best friend pulling the yellow cord to signal the bus driver that we were ready to get the heck off!  My friends and I filed out of the back bus door and gossiped about what an atrocious Friday afternoon bus ride that was.  Mid-conversation the overwhelming smell of banana suddenly overtook my nostrils.  I desperately looked down to find banana shrapnel clinging to the glittered fingers of my mittens.  Fearing the worst, I quickly whipped them off and held the cuffs with my fingertips, dangling the glitter mittens like they were roadkill.

With no feasible plan of action and friends that were nearly peeing their pants from laughter, I frustratingly shoved the mittens under a nearby bush and covered them with snow in an attempt to wipe away the foul debris.

We continued our short trek to Culver’s while I kept my banana-free hands tucked  in my pockets.  And when one of our moms’ drove us home that night I requested that she pull over so I could retrieve the tainted mittens.  I then dropped them in the laundry room the moment I stepped into my house and recounted the evenings events to my parents, who weren’t the least bit amused by  it.