Friday, July 27, 2012

Harvey and Lori Ferguson Ch. 19 A Learning Experience

My name is Valrae Diane Ferguson and this is my very own personal journal. So much has happened to our family lately that it's hard for us to keep track. Mumma said we should look at all of it as a "learning experience". So Daddy took me to Staples tonight and bought me this book. The cover looks like an antique photo album and I like that because I'm a very old-fashioned girl, everyone says that. I plan on putting pictures and drawings in here, not just words, so I guess it is actually a journal and a scrapbook.

First I will tell you about my family. My Daddy is Harvey Ferguson and he owns and manages a health spa called Feel the Burn. He's very handsome and has a mustache. One thing about him is that's he's always calm. Mumma says he's "mellow". He can lift me and Gray at the same time, Gray on his shoulders and me in his arms and we weigh 75 lbs. each and then walk around for a long time without getting out of breath at all because he's a fitness expert and he exercises all the time. It's easy to tell him stuff, even if you're a kid; which I am, being nine years old. 

Mumma is Lori Ferguson. She has long black hair and Daddy calls her 'Brat' but he says she's a beautiful brat. Anyway, she makes the best brownies in the world. When I have a nightmare she rubs my back and in the summertime she paints my fingernails and toenails pink. She plays the piano and she loves art and almost all crafts. Graylan is my twin brother, he's a boy, but he's still my second best friend after Scarlett Caswell. Gray has red hair like our Nana and likes to tease but I guess all boys do. He's smart about nature and science and drawing. He draws superheroes mostly. But I'm smart about history and games and music.

So until recently our family was very happy living in our brand new house--it was so pretty. We even had a little pond with a waterfall in the backyard. Gray and I had kids over after school almost every other day. Friends like Christabel Smith, Randy Hanzlik and Melinda Howard.

                                                              Randy Hanzlik with Gray and Me

                     Melinda Howard and me              Christabel Smith and me

Probably the most dramatic thing to come along at that time was when Mumma decided she wanted to have an operation. I don't know if I should put this here but I will. I'm trying to tell everything and be honest. Actually the truth is Mumma wanted her puffles to not be so big. That is, her "bosoms". Scarlett and I always call them "puffles" because that word fits better and sounds more like ladies' chests look than the weird word "bosoms". You know, booo-zums? Dumb word. When I told Mumma once that Scarlett and I preferred the word puffles she laughed and laughed, but every time we hear bosoms that makes Scarlett and me laugh. Okay. Mumma told me she was tired of not being able to wear prettier clothes although I think she always looks pretty. And her back hurts a lot from it. Mumma's mother--Gray and I always call her Nana--well, she has a little bit of the same problem, but I guess she's used to having her back hurt because she said she was not having any bosoms surgery, no way, no thanks, nossiree.

The night before her operation I heard Mumma on the phone to Melanie Caswell, who is her best friend since they were very small and the mother of Scarlett.

"Yes, it's tomorrow, but don't worry, I'll be back and healing soon. Mom and Harvey's mother will both help with the twins. Harvey? Oh, poor Harvey, he cried all night."

I couldn't believe Daddy had cried for even five minutes. He never cries.

Then Mumma laughed like crazy and said, 

"Oh, I'm kidding, Melanie; you know nothing fazes Harvey! Even though he's not all that pro on me having what he calls 'unnecessary surgery' he's been supportive and says he'll like me any size I decide to be."

I could hear Melanie laughing over the phone, too. So I waited around until Mumma hung up and went in her room.

"Why did Daddy cry all night about your surgery?"

"Oh, he didn't, sweetie, I was just joking."

"But why would--"

Mumma asked,

"Have you done your homework?"

She wanted to change the subject. Usually she asked if I brushed my teeth, but it was the same thing.

"Yes, I finished it, but--"

"Do you want to help me with supper tonight? You can use the mixer and mash the potatoes."

That made me happy, I was learning to cook like her and she would let me make the frosting, or stir the stew, tenderize the meat or sometimes tear the lettuce in bite-sized pieces but only when she was in the room. Once I helped make biscuits and I couldn't get the dough right and kept working on it even though Mumma said not to do that because the biscuits would be "tough". When they were baked they did feel a little hard but I put a pretty towel in the wicker bowl and put them in, covered them and set the bowl on the table. Mumma gave a long look to Daddy and when Gray fished a biscuit out and tried to break in in three pieces to put butter on it he couldn't even do it. I just kept watching while my face was all hot and turning red. Then Gray tried to use a butter knife, but did it work? No. So he said, 

"I think I need a saw. Like a chainsaw. A real big one."

"Never mind the dramatics, slick," Daddy told him, "No one said you had to eat them."

"I guess I messed with the dough too long," I told Daddy, trying not to cry.

"You're still learning, honey. Don't worry about it--anyway the mashed potatoes were really good!"

Mumma smiled at me and it was all right then. Except after supper I saw Gray and our cousin, Ryan, out in the yard throwing biscuits at each other and ducking. I think that was mean.

And I never did find out why Mumma joked like that to Melanie. It didn't make much sense to me.

After her surgery Mumma looked just as pretty as before but just with nice regular puffles instead of really big ones. Now she could have new clothes and Daddy said for her to buy a new wardrobe, whatever she wanted so I guess he thinks she's still pretty, too.

Daddy paints nearly as well as Mumma so they loved the new studio up on the third floor of our house. Gray had been asking to be able to learn to paint and have his own easel so Daddy had said he would get him one soon.

It was a big day when Mumma opened her new bakery. Daddy's mother and Nana are both very good bakers and they will help Mumma part-time but on opening day Daddy was with her and one of her first customers was Melanie. Like I said Melanie is the mother of my best friend, Scarlett, and pretty soon she is going to have a baby. Then Scarlett will have a baby brother or sister. I kind of wish Mumma was going to have a baby. Then I could rock the baby and feed it and take it for walks.

That night was when everything bad happened. But really it started out good. Gray and me ate frosted brownies left over from the bakery's grand opening and Nana was watching us while Daddy took Mumma out to a movie and a fancy dinner to celebrate even though she said they really ought to be going to bed early.

It was a new restaurant in Bluewater Village and Mumma told me later how pretty it was, with big windows to look out at the water. She said maybe the whole family would go to dinner there sometime.

But then came the fire. It was lucky Mumma and Daddy were out late because it was when they got home and getting ready for bed that Daddy smelled the smoke. When he went into the hall he saw flames at the top of the stairs to the third floor. Nana had already gone home and Gray and me were sleeping in our room.

All I remember is waking up as Daddy said my name and scooped me up out of bed. I looked over and Mumma was helping Gray put on slippers and a robe. Daddy told her to go ahead with Gray; that he already had my slippers and robe and he could put them on me when we got outside.

"What is it? What is it?" I kept asking.

"The house is on fire, honey, we have to get out now. The fire department is on the way," Daddy said in his quiet voice. He carried me downstairs and out the front door and I was looking over his shoulder at the house as smoke was following us into the foyer. Mumma and Gray were running to the street.

I don't have any pictures of our house when it was on fire, but online I found a picture of firefighters and in the picture they are fighting a house fire. I'm pasting it here because that's how they look in real life, too. It's how they looked that night trying to save our house. They worked so hard, but the house burned anyway. At least it did not catch any other houses or trees on fire. My grandparents, Grandpa Shep and Mamie, came over from two doors down and my Aunt Gillian and Uncle Jeremy who lived right next door were there with our cousins Robby and Ryan. Mamie went over next door to stay with Aunt Gillian's baby twins, Stephen and Sabrina. And then Mumma's parents, Poppa and Nana, were suddenly there, too. Mumma must have called Nana and then Nana called Poppa because they don't live together right now. I'm not supposed to know that, but I do. I just don't know why Poppa doesn't live there.

I still remember standing out in the middle of the street with Daddy and Mumma and Gray. I was in my pajamas with the bunnies on them that matched my bunny slippers and my flannel robe I got last Christmas. The heat from the fire was making it like you stuck your head in a gigantic oven and the firefighters were shouting to each other. Then the fire roared just like an animal and everyone rushed back. It felt like the fire wanted to get us and it was angry we got away. It made me jump and I started to cry.

All our photographs and our books, the drawings Gray and I made for Mumma and she taped to the refrigerator were in there. And Mumma's grand piano and all our paintings, some from when Daddy was a baby, and my sweet doll, Gemma, all our clothes, and even Gray's and my homework. They were gone. Forever.

By the time I thought of that I was crying so hard I could hardly breathe even though I could feel Daddy's hand on my shoulder. Tears were running down Gray's face, too, I knew later on he'd be embarrassed about that. I grabbed his hand anyway and he looked at me, he wasn't even mad about it. Mumma, who cries so easy, had not one tear that night. Her face was still and white as she watched our house disappear. That's what it was like--our house disappeared into the fire. Daddy had his arm around her.

Gray whispered to me,

"We don't have anything, now, not even a home," 

And I nodded, but then Daddy said that they were only things that we had lost and that we were all safe and that's what mattered. Then he said that we would sleep at Grandpa Shep's that night.