there was a sick worm. "
It must have been the summer of 1956, as best I can calculate. Australia was hosting the summer Olympics, the US tested the first aerial Hydrogen Bomb, the Snooze Alarm was invented and Elvis went from regional act to national sensation, recording "Hound Dog" and "Don't be cruel."
But more important to my three-year-old existence, on a weekend family vacation somewhere in the northern regions of Michigan ... I found a dead worm.
I have been reminded of this particular flattened earthworm often. It was and is the first memory I have of life itself. Here's the story in brief ...
I remember a cabin, perhaps on a lake. In a gravelly part of the yard I looked down to find a dead, flattened earthworm. Intrigued, I brought it to my mother. "Look mom, a sick worm." I insisted we help the pitiful thing. So my mother prepared a cigar box with dirt and some leaves and we placed the crispy dried worm in the box to mend. It was near or within my sight for the remaining days and nights of our family's weekend away. I specifically recall sleeping on a couch and looking across the darkened cabin long after everyone else had gone to bed. I reached beneath the couch and was reassured by the feel of the cigar box I had placed there for safe keeping.
My memory is that on the morning of the day we were to leave I retrieved the box from its place beneath the couch only to find that the worm was gone. My mother and four older sisters were quick to calm my concerns. "He must have gotten better and crawled away." My eyes widened ... wow, the sick worm was all better. cool.
Well that's the story, and I've told it many times. Several years ago my sister Shirley wrote and illustrated a children's book about the story. She has read and told the tale to many, many children since.
But, it doesn't end there. A few weeks ago, Sally and I had our son Ryan and daughter-in-law Jill over for dinner, at their request .. should've known something was up. Afterward they probed for Christmas and childhood stories. Sally brought up the "legend" of the sick worm which they nonchalantly recorded ... and that was that. Christmas was at Ryan and Jill's. After opening presents they had a projection screen set up for home movies, which everyone watched. Then, before proceeding to dinner they announced they had something to show us all. We had no clue. This is what they presented ...