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©March 2001

Carol Jane Remsburg


Watching Samantha Grow





It was August 20th, 1983 when she arrived.  The evening was firecracker hot and it was a party atmosphere for everyone except the mother and child.  We, the rest of the family, couldn't wait for our next little girl to get here.  Daddy Tom made visits between the birthing room and the parking lot with regularity and updates.  Out in the parking lot, things were lively.


We waited and we partied—even the Grandpop and Grandmom.  This would be a night to remember as each of us ran in and out of the building.  They didn't want our rowdy lot on the inside; so about 14 folks stayed outdoors and had a tailgate party awaiting the WORD.  Of course, Sammi never knew until much later how her launch into this world was met.  Her sister, aged two at the time, still holds vague memories of the event—but not much.  Little Jamie that night was a party-pooper—she wasn't quite sure she wanted an addition to the family.  Still, once she saw that little "Popeye" face screwed up into a full howl—then Jamie knew that baby Samantha belonged to us all.


Way back, all those years ago, Jamie, the first born of my sister Betsy, never took after anyone in the family.  The joke was that she was the postman's daughter—even though she wasn't.  Now Sammi, was different.  Little Samantha Rae was a total composite of both families.  She had a "something" of her daddy's face and eyes, but she was unmistakably a "Caulk" child—her mother's side of the family.  I knew the instant I held her, this kid had my fingers and my same nail shapes.  She was MY kid.  Oh, she also had my legs. 


Funny thing was although each of the three of us "Caulk" girls are different, when you put us together you know we are related.  From the tall to the small there is just something that makes us from the same family.  But, and the big but here is that you have to put all three of us together to see it.  If you put just two of us together then you can't.  It's like a doofy science project or something.  It's just the way it works.


Now Samantha Rae was of a different mold.  She was a child unto herself.  She knew from the beginning what she wanted, when she wanted, and she couldn't and wouldn't be deterred from it.  That old "sitting on the washer as it goes through the spin cycle" did nothing for this kid's teething problems.  It had worked like a charm for Jamie—but NOT Sammi.  Little Sammi was stoic and couldn't be pushed to do anything she didn't want to.  There was no amount of bribery, threats, or spankings that could change her course.  She always knew what she wanted.


I remember once on a Saturday night, when my husband and I normally came over to visit for an evening of cards and fun when the girls just wouldn't go to bed.  Their mom and dad, Betsy and Tom, like all parents of young kids were tired and frustrated.  It was time for "Uncle Donny's wall exercises"—it's an old-timey sort of ruse that will usually put the kids out like a light.  They stood in the same room as we; leaning spread-eagled upon the wall until they decided it was time for sleep.  This works within about 5 minutes for very young ones and sounds worse than what is was.  The kids just were thinking they were missing something when they weren't and didn't want to cave into sleep. 


One night, long after Jamie caved (in about 2 1/2 minutes), Sammi decided to wait it out.  She was determined to find out just what it was that kept the adults awake while little kids went to sleep.  After that 5 minute magical mark, it became torture for the adults in the room.  None of us paid the least attention to our round of Spades, our libations, or the treats we were feeding on.  Conversation dried up.  Every eye in the room was on Sammi—she knew it too.  It was already 8:30 PM and she was so tired that she could hardly stand up and she was only 4 years old.  Yet Sammi was determined to know just what it was and how it was to stay up late. 


Ten minutes rolled by and then twenty.  By thirty minutes into this routine I couldn't stand it and neither could anyone else.  I pushed back my chair and scooped her up in my arms and took her to bed.  I wanted to cuddle her and give her a thousand kisses "goodnight."  This kid wasn't having any of that.  No, little Sammi wanted to know what it was the adults did after dark.  I was puzzled and I tried really hard to explain it but she wasn't ready to hear any of it.  Back into the dining room we went.  Me back to my chair and she back to the wall.  She just wanted to listen.  There was no sleep in her.  Sammi was riveted on the conversation.  She stretched and she leaned.  The rest of us played cards for another 20 minutes before Sammi finally gave up the ghost and decided that what we were doing held little interest for her.  I never forgot her determination.  She's always been just like that—totally focused when she wants to know something. 


Years and years have passed.  While Sammi is as determined as ever, she's got a soft side; that tender, under-belly that others don't recognize.  She's as sweet as Silver Corn at its peak, as steady as the tides—and tougher than nails when it comes to something important. 


Samantha has grown as lovely as I knew she'd become.  She's also got a good head on her shoulders and is rock-steady.  She has a strong work ethic and is driven.  She is something we don't often see in our youth of today.  Sammi is a gift.


Samantha spends her time between school and her family.  She also spends time with her little cousin, Erin, who thrives on her attention.  Sammi is able to teach things to Erin that I can't seem to impart.  Even Erin knows just how special Sammi is—there isn't another like her. 


This is a girl who spent many weekends in my home while she was still in diapers.  I've watched her grow into a young woman, a young woman with promise.  Sammi is ready to face the world even with her kind heart and willing hands.  She simply is Samantha.  I wish that I had been so ready at her age during these times. 


Walk up to any other 17 year old and you'll meet with a jaundiced outlook, not one of drive or hope.  They are there but hard to find.  My Sammi has it.  She hasn't fallen into the pit of drugs or indiscriminate sex or apathy.  My Sammi is a "good girl" who will find her way into the adult world that so fascinated her as a child.  She will find out that it isn't all such great shakes, but somehow I know she's prepared for it. 


I can only hope that my own little Erin will grow up to be like Sammi—Sammi the strong, the kind, who has a vision of worth into the future.  Would that each of us could be like she.


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