Jewels in My Memory Box
“You didn’t!” My mouth dropped at a detail my brother shared about a hunting trip he’d taken out west. Jeff and I were enjoying a glass of wine together on the sundeck during Mayflower’s “Tulip Time on Jewels of the Rhine” river cruise of the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland. My 6’4” red-haired sibling, (whom I like to call “my naughty little brother”) and I live 400 miles apart and were appreciating this chance to reminisce, tease, and joke with one another.
“I really did,” he said. “I had to haul the hind quarter of an elk I’d shot down a steep, snowy slope, so I sat on it and rode ‘er down.”
Shortly after hearing this tale, Jeff, his wife, my husband, and me were hearing tinkling cowbells while riding a cable car down from Switzerland’s 7,000 foot snow-capped Mt. Pilatus, one of Mayflower’s optional excursions. We spotted a toboggan run winding down the craggy, steep slope. Later I learned it’s the longest toboggan run in the world. My “naughty brother” and I used to go toboggan sledding together. He wouldn’t agree, but I’m sure he knocked me off and gave me a snowy face washing.
Now me, I was a perfect child and never caused my parents an ounce of worry.
“Do you remember what a hippy you were?” he asked me, while we were relaxing by the large picture windows and looking for the next castles.
“Not me. I was the perfect child and never gave Mom or Dad an ounce of worry.”
“You wrote P-O-T and drew a marijuana leaf on that big planter we had.”
That darn brother of mine. He had an amazing memory. Jeff and I continued to egg each other on and when I found out the evening entertainment on board ship was “Name that Tune,” I challenged him to participate.
Jeff not only identified the artists and names of most of the songs within three seconds of hearing them, but he could even do so when our fun-loving activity director played them backwards! Besides having a great time, but his big win proved to be a conversation starter later when we were enjoying dinner in the ship’s dining room. New friends joined us to find out more about Jeff, and he explained that he’d once worked as a DJ. “My sister dared me, so of course I had to do it. She loves to tell stories about me, but because of this trip, I now have a good one about her.”
I took a slow sip of the local beer, not sure where he was going with this.
“When we were touring the tulip Gardens,” he began, “she was showing off by crossing the stepping stones and fell in.” (See photo.)
“Hey! It wasn’t my fault.” I didn’t want these people thinking I was clumsy. In my youth, I regularly crossed the rock stepping stones over the turbulent Root River so I ignored the garden’s handrail. “My husband distracted me. I was crossing the water recording the scenery when he called out to me. I looked up and—splash!” The rest of the morning, every time my foot sloshed in my shoe, that naughty brother of mine grinned.
I not only got to spend ten days with my brother, but I shared a café au lait with my sister-in-law and she helped me shop. Any time I wear the sea foam fleece or speckled shirt she found for me in Germany, I’m going to think of her.
With each bend of the river, family and friends drew closer. One group from Texas, who call themselves Los Amigos, regularly travel together. Judging by the merry laughter, they were a tight-knit group who enjoyed each other’s company.
We ended our cruise by touring the alpine hills of Switzerland. I would be glad to get home, but was also sorry to have the tour end. Jeff mentioned wanting to see “The Sound of Music” again after taking this trip. I’m going to ask my naughty little brother to wait until we can watch it together. We’ll sit down and pop corn like we did as kids. The “well-behaved” sister and the “naughty” brother will add another jewel to our memory box.