It’s truly crazy how the craziest things can trigger the most precious memories
Last night as I was driving home, I came close to ramming Liam Nissan into a herd of deer. I was rounding the hill up to my house, and there they were. I immediately slammed my brakes and watched six or seven of them cross the road, each one stopping to stare at me as they passed. As I watched the deer cross, my mind raced back to one of the last times I sat with Ms. Judy and had a decent conversation.
As the years went by, Ms. Judy’s dementia obviously worsened. The last couple of times I saw her, she barely knew who I was, let alone anything else.
As a matter of fact, the last time we got to sit down and have a real conversation was in December of 2019.
It was the first time I had seen her since the family has put her in the facility she stayed in. She was excited to see me, and I her, but I could tell she was getting worse. She told me the same 3 stories and asked the same several questions. I just tried to soak up and enjoy the time I had with her as much as I could.
Out of nowhere, she looked me dead in the eye and asked, “Derik, do you remember that time a little baby deer came up to you and Nikki while you all were splashing in the pool?”
I was flummoxed(what a word) that out of everything she would remember, this memory was the one. Happily, I recanted the entire story for her while she sat smiling and listened to my every word.
It was the summer of either ‘94 or ‘95. My cousin Nikki was in from Nashville for the week, and as we always did, we spent that week at Nana and Papa’s swimming in their pool. We’d wake up, have breakfast, then hit the pool til lunch. Ms. Judy would usually cook us a Totino’s Pizza (please sponsor this blog) that we would devour. Then back to the pool until dinner. Dinner would usually consist of food and a Disney movie. Then back to the pool for night swimming. We were obsessed with the pool.
On one particular day of swimming and trying to out-cannonball the other, Ms. Judy noticed something in the trees behind the house. We all stopped to look at what it was but it ran away. So we went back to diving into the pool from the deck. The splashes made the something come back. This time, Ms. Judy gasped and said, “oh! It’s a baby deer!”. Sure enough, a young deer was curiously approaching the pool. Papa Earl kept a salt block out in the woods for the deer, and I assume this one saw all the water splashing around and got curious.
It was so crazy; as long as we continued to splash, the deer would get closer. When we stopped, the deer would take a step back. It was as if we were playing some kind of fun game with the deer.
We wanted to see how far we could get the deer to come to us, so we continued to cannonball and make splashes until the deer was almost at the edge of the pool! Holy smokes, we’re gonna pet this deer. I had visions of just keeping it and making it my pet. Could you imagine if I taught a deer how to play fetch? How cool would that be?
Just as the deer was inches away from us, the deer jerked its head back to the woods and took off like a flash of lightning. We were so close to petting this deer and now it was gone.
Again, this had happened twenty-five years ago, and it was the memory burned into Ms. Judy’s brain. I loved retelling her that story that day, just as I loved remembering it all while watching the deer cross the street last night.