Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Wonderful Robinson Memory

I have been affiliated with the Robinson Family for almost three decades, and in that time I have collected boatloads of memories. Today, however, I am going to focus on one of those memories that seems to stand out among all of them like a dog-eared page in your favorite book. You get to that page and wonder "Why did I want to remember this page? What made it so special?" So you read it again and remember that it was one of those moments in literature that reminded you why you read. Another person may pick up the same book, read the same page and move on completely unaffected. This story is one of the dog-eared pages in the book of my life. I do not expect this story to affect all who read it, nor do I expect it to be something profound and moving. No. It is just a simple story that I always come back to as an example of why I love my family.

Many years ago in a land far, far away, The Philippines, the Robinson family lived next door to a volcano. In the four years that we lived in The Philippines, we experienced a lot of natural disasters: typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, and now volcanic eruption. The volcano next door to us was named Mt. Pinatubo and besides being the possible hiding spot for the man who stole our Amiga computer while my dad and I were seeing Lee Greenwood, it was the home of some noxious gas, hot molten rock, and hot ash that was ready to explode into the world. Because my father was in the Air Force, he was required to stay back at the base, to this day I'm still not sure what it was he did, but I know it was important --probably. My mother, however, was put in charge of ushering an 8 year old cantankerous hell-boy, a 5 year old space-headed girl, a 2 year old spiky headed baby girl, and a beautiful Husky dog down the long, dusty trail of evacuation from their home to many stops along the way. Now, my memory is somewhat foggy as to the exact details, but what I can do is give a few short snippets that should give a pretty accurate depiction of what happened.
My mother's birthday, June 15, was a dark day. It was a dark day that began with a mushroom cloud of ash that covered the sky like Manhattan Island and it ended with dark red lightning bolts.
I remember trying to fall asleep while the earth shook beneath me all night. All night long there were tremors and I was absolutely horrified and completely unable to sleep.
I remember spending the night in a movie theater, an old dance club, and another dance club inside an old plane.
I remember being in a day long traffic jam with my family and our dog. We had to pull over a half a dozen times for me to throw up because our dog was so covered in slobber that it made me sick to my stomach.
I remember seeing a woman faint from heat exhaustion.
I remember sleeping in a tent village with hundreds of other evacuees.
I remember collecting a dozen or so sticks that resembled swords, guns, and spears and keeping them on a weapon rack that was actually a fence. When one of my prized weapons fell through to the other side, I was forced to go around and retrieve it. What I didn't know was that the other side of the fence was off-limits and was guarded by a pack of German Shepherds as well as a bunch of Philippine soldiers with M-16s.
I remember having to give away my beautiful dog, Wolfy, before we got on board the biggest Aircraft Carrier in the world at the time, The USS Abraham Lincoln.
I remember seeing so many people board a ship that I didn't think I'd ever seen that many people at once in my whole life.
I remember going up on top of the deck with my family and watching my younger sister nearly get blown off of the ship due to the intense wind.
I remember getting a USS Abraham Lincoln t-shirt.
I remember throwing up on my first and only helicopter ride.
Then I remember it finally ending and being happy that we were moving to Hawaii.

Through all of these amazing memories and crazy situations we got into and through all the others that I don't remember or failed to list, I also remember one other thing. I remember that without the strength and courage of our outstanding mother we may not be here today. Our mother who schlepped us halfway around a foreign country all by herself, a mother who saved me from being shot by Philippine soldiers, a mother who pulled over half a dozen times to help me vomit, a mother who made the difficult decision to give away our dog, a mother who had to keep up with three children who would have been a challenge just by themselves, a mother who never receives the credit she is due and a mother who has given her life away for the sake of her children. That is why I remember this story. I remember my mother not giving up, and that I'll never forget.