MY ONE AND ONLY BEDTIME STORY AS A CHILD (A LEGACY STORY)
By Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs; Dedicated to my sister Trula: The “other” story teller in the family.
I can only remember one story and one story teller as a child. The story was told by my sister who was three years older than me. For years I thought it was totally original. When I got in to school I learned that it was a slightly plagiarized version of “Rumpelstiltskin”.
I was a little torqued at her but later realized she had superbly surpassed the original fable. She created a name for the lead character that was ingenious and beyond a “tongue twister”. To this day I challenge my eleven grandchildren to memorize the name.
You remember the story about the royal couple who pledged to give their beautiful baby daughter to a little ugly dwarf if they couldn’t learn the dwarf’s name? Finally, a hunter followed him into the woods the night before he would have claimed his prize, and observed him dancing around the fire and heard him singing his name. The Queen was able to repeat it the next day and thus was able to foil his plot. Rumpelstiltskin was a big deal.
But, as I thought about it in later years, I was not so impressed at all with Rumpelstiltskin. Big Deal! Four syllables.
Here is the name my sister created and it was used or spoken frequently in the story when she told it to me, and when I passed it on to my grandchildren.
STICKY-STICKY-STOMBO, NEW-SO-ROMBO, ICKY-NON, NEWY-NON, HOTTIE-POTTIE-BOSCO
The pronunciation is;
(Sticky-Sticky-Stombo,) (Newso-Rombo,) (Icky-Non,) (Newy-Non,) (Hottie-Pottie-Bosco.)
I loved telling that story to new grandchildren as it must have seemed like the longest name they’d ever heard. It probably was, come to think about it. When they learned it was my intention to teach them to pronounce the name and tell the story, they were incredulous. But each one did. My oldest is now 30 and the youngest is 14. Some remember it, some don’t. In fairness, I had years of repetition from Trula, they only heard it a few times.
It may seem a strange Legacy but it evolved as one of the few positive things my sister and I shared as children. There were few exchanges of camaraderie that I can remember between us. Things were more adversarial and competitive. But getting her to tell me a bedtime story was a very important and bonding experience between us. In retrospect, it always surprised me that she would take the time. On the nights of the bedtime story, I went to sleep feeling safe and slept better than at any other time.
My sister and I laughed and repeated the story to each other up into our sixties. It always reminded us of the bond that had existed in those troubled times. A lifelong profession of sibling rivalry and family dysfunction, was to keep us from being the ultra-close kind of sisters.
It is true however, that we were known to be there for each other in crisis. When I was about five or six I remember she would boss me and make me go home. Often she pummeled me when it suited her. But, on one occasion her very best friend hit me, my sister beat her up. Her friend challenged her action saying that my sister always hit on me. My sister retorted, “She’s my sister. I can hit her, but no one else had ever better try it”.
Our sparring and fussing and fighting days went on into adulthood and old age. I truly have come to believe it was a genetic thing. Growing up to the teen years, when we were returning to our home state for visits, we always had to check out the family politics. We had to figure out which family members were speaking to each other and which ones were not. And we dared not go where the feud would try to draw us in.
As an adult I remember an incident causing me to fall on ice breaking six ribs and suffering a concussion. I was transported from the parking lot of my work place to the emergency room. After five hours they still wouldn’t admit me. Hospital personnel claimed that my insurance wouldn’t pay for someone to “just lay around and recover in the hospital.”
My sister was finally reached through her work and was on duty. My husband could not be reached (few carried cell phones in those days of the 80’s) as they sought a family member to take me home. Trula came to the hospital immediately. She was told to take me home and anyone who knows my sister knows you don’t “tell” her to do anything. Every time the nurses tried to sit me up and put me in a wheelchair, I passed out from the pain. (I had never passed out in my life.) Trula demanded to speak with the emergency room doctor who laid it off on the family physician who was gone for a few days and having to consult with his partner. The partner kept saying “send her home”. My sister said, “consider him fired” and then to the emergency room doctor, “you’re hired, now get her admitted”.
My sister was a police officer and in full uniform she was formidable. Actually, even without that uniform or gun she could be intimidating. But standing there alongside the hospital gurney and mad as hell, I think the doctor was intimidated every time she rested her hand on her gun. (Something she later told with that sly grin and glint in her eye that said it wasn’t by accident). At any rate I was finally admitted with insurance approval and remained four days mercifully receiving injectable pain meds. It took six weeks to heal enough to be back at work.
Likewise, when Trula was dying, I went to battle for her those last weeks. I am still too angry and distressed to relay that story. But, suffice to say, she and I hugged and cried before she lapsed into a coma in the hospital. But, knowing I had done my best, and that between us there were no secrets, and I had done everything possible to honor her wishes, I could let her go and rejoice in her being at peace, at last. She was never my “best friend”, but she was more. She was my sister.
To her I give credit for the legacy of storytelling that became so important in my life. She was the inspiration of my first novel, Loving Pride, and it is dedicated to her.