When you see a title "My Favorite Story About My Mom" there are certain expectations. Images of hugging and flowers come to mind. Perhaps the smell of your favorite home-cooked meal, or knowing that mom will always be there for you. Yes, these are tender memories. Yet, they have nothing to do with my favorite, now iconic, story about my mom.
Growing up we lived on a wooded, 1 acre lot. We had a creek that ran down one side of the yard. It was lovely, except when there were thunderstorms. Wind and rain scattered branches and limbs throughout the property. On the off chance we skipped removing the debris from the lawn, after a few storms the yard was a real mess.
One summer, when I was in junior high, we had a series of storms that left an unusually large amount of branches on our lot. My mom had this great idea that we could outside and throw the sticks in the dry creek bed. When Dad got home he could burn them. So out we went.
The pile we amassed was probably 3 feet high and 5 feet across. I remember looking at it thinking it was going to make one heck of a fire. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my mom take a packet of matches out of her pocket. I distinctly remember thinking, "Huh. This isn't how Dad burns stuff." But I was half way across the yard and figured this was more interesting that going inside, so I was going to hang out and watch.
She lit a match and threw it on the pile.
So she lit another match.
I don't know how many matches she threw on the pile but she made several more attempts, all with the same result. That's when she turned around, I assumed, to go back into the house. But that's not what she did. No, not at all.
She returned to the pile of sticks - from the garage - carrying...(wait for it)...
A. Can. Of. Gasoline.
She took the gas and randomly sprinkled a little on the pile to help start the fire. She threw in a match.
By this time she was hot, frustrated, and determined. So she took the FULL can of gasoline and dumped it all over that pile of sticks. And friends, we had a riding lawn mower, so it was a big can of gasoline. ALL. OVER. THOSE. STICKS.
She lit a match.
She threw it in.
At first, nothing. Then:
That thing blew up like a Zamboni on the 4th of July. My jaw dropped. I shifted my glance to my mom.
I swear, she easily flew 3 feet into the air, just like on a cartoon. Then, she dropped to the ground, rolled several times and lay motionless well away from the blazing fire.
I ran like a bat out of hell over to my mom. "MOM! Are you OK?! MOM!"
"Yes. I'm...fine...yes." Prostrate on the ground, face in the grass, lifting one arm in the air as if to say, "There's nothing to see here folks."
When I knew she was okay - and only when I knew she was okay - I fell to the ground laughing like I have never laughed in my entire life. We're talking full on, body laughing, no sound coming out because I was literally cracking up over what she did. I was crying I was laughing so hard.
My mom sits up, while wiping dirt off her face, says, "I guess that was too much gas."
At this point, the neighbors are involved, calling 911, running over with garden hoses. It was spectacular.
Today, 21 years later, the story lives on. Night after night my son, as I put him to bed, says, "Tell me that story about Grandma Linda and how she blew up."
Happy Mother's Day everybody. Hope it's a blast!
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