Back to Stories

Climbing the Windmill

I have been wracking my brain to tell you a story that actually happened in my family.  You may pass it on to your children and to anyone else who you think needs a laugh. 

It occurred to me that perhaps you could be interested in what I am about to relate to you.  It happened and is so far-fetched that those who knew my mother would say, “That’s Merle.”  “I can almost see her!” “I know she said that.”  “It sure sounds like her.”

A little background – my folks had been married a few years.  They had my brother Ivan and perhaps my sister Martha was a baby.  They all lived in Northern Illinois or Eastern Iowa.  My dad worked on a farm near the Mississippi River for a former horse trader.  They farmed in the bottom-land and were forced to move because of a big flood.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Anyway, my mother happened to look out the kitchen window one morning and saw that my brother Ivan, who must have been around five years of age, was proceeding to climb a windmill in the barn lot.  He was making pretty good progress, too.  Mom said he was quite high off the ground by the time she saw him.  She was petrified.  She ran outside and grabbed something lying on the ground, which no doubt Ivan had flung down in his haste to climb the windmill.  As with most windmills, this one had steps leading to the top for men to climb in case the mechanism at the top needed repairing. 

Mom noticed that what she had grabbed in her hand was a BB gun.  She called to Ivan, “You come back down here or I’ll shoot you!”  Now my mother would never have shot my brother with that gun, or any gun.  In fact, she would have been hard-pressed to find the trigger on the contraption.  And was it loaded?  Probably not, but my brother cried out, “Don’t shoot, Mommy.  I’ll come down.”  He was as frightened as could be and made haste to climb back down the windmill.  Mom kept careful aim and repeated the warning to come to her on the ground.  “I’m coming, Mommy.  Don’t shoot,” he kept repeating as Mom issued her plea to come down. 

The story got embellished every time it was told.  But Ivan made it safely to the ground and Mom was so happy she probably nearly hugged him to pieces.

Ivan had to listen to this story so much I’m sure he learned to love Mom more for having reacted the way she did.

Believe me, this tale was hashed and rehashed at every family gathering.  Both my brother and sister are gone now.  Even my brother’s sons have retired and they are all fine men and have led good lives.  I suppose the windmill incident served its purpose.  It provided us with more family tales anyway.