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Author: Kandice Cruz
Title: Summer of 1986
Type of Work: story
Source: CMv1 #53

Copyright 2002 Kandice Cruz

In the summer of 1986, I graduated High School on June 3. The next day I began work at a place where I would end up working for the next 13 years of my life, Sam's Nursery. This was a plant nursery in Texas that grew it's own stock and alot of the plants we grew also went to Home Depots to be sold there. It was a happy job for me and I like working the 12 - 13 hours a day but little did I know that that summer I would lean on that place like a crutch to help me through the family tragedys that faced me that summer.

On June 15 of that year, my Nanna passed away from this earth. She was the ripe old age of 97. True she lived a happy and full life, but it was hard for me because I was so close to Nanna. The nursery gave me "Funeral Leave" and during the procession from the funeral home to the cemetary, the un-thinkable happened.

A man that was highly intoxicated ran through a red light. He hit one of the cars in the procession that carried my mother's oldest sister and her family. The impact was so hard that it killed both my Aunt and My Uncle and two of my cousins went into coma. One of those cousins was my cousin Michael that I learned to waltz with. During the double funeral for my Aunt and Uncle, my cousin Michael also passed away. His sister Elizabeth managed to pull out of her coma. During Michael's funeral, Elizabeth collapsed and died of a brain hemorage.

When Elizabeth passed, my mother called my Grand-Mierre to tell her of the tragedy that had happened in Texas and Grand-Mierre went silent and Mom couldn't get her to answer. When my cousin Eugene went to see about her later that same day, he found her dead with the phone in her hand.

I took off more time from the nursery to attend the funeral of my Grand-Mierre and at the services for her, one of my cousins, Melanie, went into labor. Before we could get her and the baby to the hospital she bled to death. The baby went into shock and we lost the baby as well.

I returned to my job and was thankful that that summer was one of the summers where I worked in the growing house for herbs and didn't have much public contact. I spent many a day crying into the sage and wondering where all this was leading. Late that July, I was called to the main office. Standing there in the office was my next to oldest brother, Johnnie, in his full police uniform. Tears running down his face so hard that I could tell that something was very horribly wrong, he told me that our father was found dead that morning by our mother out on the back porch in his favorite rocking chair.

I collapsed and the next thing I remember was being held by the owner's wife while Johnnie was holding the smelling salts. The nursery was so good to let me have off three weeks in order to morn the losses of so many in my family in such a short period of time, but they where suprised when I showed back up in my greenhouse that I was assigned to just 7 days later.

The begining of August that year was one of me not speaking to anyone for a good three weeks and I just wandered around the greenhouse taking care of the little seedlings that would be placed on sale as soon as they where mature enough. I guess that I needed that time to put my life back into prospective and a part of me needed to be important even if it was in a small way.

On August 16 of that same summer, I was working in the greenhouse like I had been (during the summers it was not unusual for me to work 6 to 7 days a week and 12 - 13 sometimes even 14 hours a day) I reached into the mints to seperate the spearmints that where ready to be placed in the selling inventory when all of a sudden I felt a burning sensation in my left hand. When I brought up my hand, there was a spider on my hand. It was a black widow. The owner of the nursery, Sam, was standing in the greenhouse talking to Miguel, who was at that time the Nursery manager, when all of a sudden I fell to the floor and went into convulsions.

I remember waking up in the hospital to be told by the nurse that I had been out for 48 hours and they where glad to see me concious. My entire left hand was swollen 4 sizes larger than normal and it was magnificent shades of purples and blues. At the foot of my bed was my mother and Sam. Sam looked at me and said "Little girl, are you going to play with spiders any more?" I started to laugh and mother said to Sam that that was the first time since June 15 I had laughed.

When I went back to the nursery after my recovery, I noticed that there where several geckos in the greenhouse where I worked. There was also a very large Iguana. Sam told me that he decided that I needed protection and so he went and got lizards and placed them in my greenhouse and it was up to me to name them. I named the iguana Joe and the geckos became Speedy, Isabella, Gringo and Lennon.

After that it was not uncommon to walk into the herb greenhouse to see me walking around the greenhouse and talking to Joe as he rode upon my shoulder or followed me with his little green and red plaid collar. I spent many a lunch time sitting on a rock in the middle of the greenhouse sharing my lunch with Joe and Lennon. Lennon was the only gecko that would actually come up to people and let them touch him. The other geckos would run off if someone other than me approached them. If it where not for those lizards, I don't think I could have made that summer at all.

Four years later, Joe died from eating some poison that was in another greenhouse and Sam declaired that there will be no more chemicals used in any greenhouse and we became the first plant nursery in Texas to be totally organic.