I was in the 5th grade when my Mom started watching some of the neighborhood kids for some side money. Actually, I don’t know if she ever made any money or if she just did it out of the kindness of her heart. But every morning a couple of kids would be dropped off at our house before school. They were Jeff and his sister Pam and another girl named Sarah. My mom would make sure that they all made their way to school, along with my brothers and I, and then after school she would watch them until their parents picked them up. (Now that I think about it, these kids were my responsibility on the walk to and from school since I was the oldest out of everyone that had to make the 4 block walk. So I have to guess that my mom did NOT make any money because I am sure she would have cut me in on the action since I was the responsible one).
After school, I would lead the 7 of us back to our house where we would play in the street or on Bob’s (my best friend who lived across the street) yard until, either dinner time, or until Mrs. Luchuk, the old cranky lady that lived next to Bob, would call the cops or come out and yell at us, whatever came first, and it was usually Mrs. Luchuk. (Hag).
Sometimes the other kids would not be at my house. Jeff and his father would be away hunting for a week. Sarah would be staying with her grandparents. I think there were other kids somewhere along the way, that I do not remember, but there were always a bunch of us playing in the street. Mrs. Luchuk would yell at us, and sometimes her husband, who was a nice man, would come out and apologize to us. Or Mr. Luchuk would tell his wife to come inside and leave the kids alone. Sometimes he would retrieve the ball that landed on his yard for us because we were too afraid to approach the house. He was nice man.
One day, my mom asked that we all play inside because Mr. Luchuk had died. She wanted to give Mrs. Luchuk a break. Later after all the other kids left we sat down to have dinner. My mom made meat loaf. My mom’s meat loaf was good. Not great, but good. It was consistent. It tasted the same every time. This particular night it did NOT taste the same.
“Mom, why does this taste funny?” One of us asked.
“I made it the same way I always make it. Eat it.” She would reply.
The LawnWhisperer asked, as he did with every meal, “Mom? Is there onions in here?” He hated onions.
“Mom this doesn’t taste right. What is it?” Said another brother.
Dad spoke up. “Poop and boogies. Eat it.”
At one point my mom announced that she did make the meatloaf a little different this time but she would only tell us what she used after we all ate it. After a while we all seemed to finish our meals although we were little wary of what my mom was going to tell us. We were waiting for Pat to finish his plate (Pat was always the last to finish) so we could all hear Mom’s secret ingredient. As Pat finished his last few bites, my mom told us what we had just eaten.
“I did make the meatloaf a little different.” She said. “I used a different kind of meat. It is called Venison.”
“Venison? What’s that?” Someone said.
“Well.” My mom replied, “Do you know how Jeff and his father go hunting? Well the last time they went, they shot a deer. Jeff’s dad was nice enough to bring us some ground venison so I used it for the meatloaf.”
There was an up roar at our house. “We ate deer meat?”
“Mom that’s like eating Bambi.”
“I will never eat meatloaf again.”
These were just some of the comments.
As I was clearing the table, I turned to my mom and I said, “I did not think it was too bad. And I am glad you said it was deer meat. I thought you were going to say it was Mr. Luchuk.”