Several years ago, Cliff’s mother, Edla, and his aunt, Zerna, were here for Robin’s high school graduation. As with precious times revolving around ones you don’t see often, great memories and stories from the past make an appearance as well.
When Cliff was growing up all his aunts, uncles and cousins from the Robinson side of the family lived in the same neighborhood in San Diego. Everyone took turns watching everyone else’s kids. Tales of the families getting together for barbeques and painting houses as a team were frequent events-even if the dog ended up being painted green on one occasion. Cliff re-enacted just how they would slide down some hill of ivy on cardboard boxes and the consequence if you forgot the box and came home with ivy stained pants. It was like witnessing the Wonder Years all over again.
Cliff’s best story was when a neighbor kid brought over a pet spider monkey. The dream pet of all kids! I remember that Woolworth’s at Dodge City had one in the pet department and begging Mom for it! She swore they were mean, bit people, and spit. “We” would have none of that I was informed. I was willing to give it a try, but was shot down. How cool to be have access to one! Cliff recounted that they let it loose. Big mistake. The house cat freaked out and went after the monkey, who jetted up the gold drapes. The commotion caught the attention of the dog, who was one in the long line of the Long family dogs all named Charlie Brown. The dog took in after the cat, who thought the monkey’s idea of the drapes was marvelous and followed suit. Down the curtains and over furniture mayhem broke out with a cacophony of barks, meows and screechy monkey sounds as the boys. not so gently, tried to catch the critters with whatever method they could come up with. Cliff couldn’t remember how it all ended except that everyone and everything survived with only the gold drapes being a little worse for wear.
Edla and Zerna looked puzzled. They had no recollection of any of this or anyone in their kid-filled neighborhood having a monkey. The kids probably kept it under wraps, so no one would get in trouble. You could tell Cliff truly loved this story as it is so wild and began to argue his case as good as any attorney. Maybe they were at work or something? Edla toyed with that idea and said “Clifford, many things happened at home when I was at work that I was unaware of.” As hard as he tried, he could to pull the memory out of these two.
So, Cliff grabbed the phone and began to call the cousins. One after another the story is recanted. The other aunt and the 2 uncles were clueless as well. No one remembered. It ended up becoming something bigger than it ever should have been. With Edla’s mom-sense she caught on that Cliff really needed someone to remember this story. She tried to offer, “Clifford, I remember the gold drapes, but I don’t remember the monkey. It makes a really good story, though.” Valiant try, Edla, but no avail.
The next day Edla and Aunt Zerna went uptown shopping and found a cute little stuffed monkey as a peace offering. Cliff was not amused. For quite awhile no one could even joke about ‘the monkey’ without bumming him out.
But, I have always believed him and will go to my grave believing him even though I didn’t witness this Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom event. First of all, who could make that up? I had heard the incredible story from the time we started dating. The story has stayed exactly the same. Regardless, it isn’t that the story never changes. It is because of his character I believe him. I have gone through enough situations with him that I can stand on what he says. I know the tone of his voice, the look in his eye, the integrity of who he is. I can put my faith in the truth of this story.
Ok, so his story isn’t the parting of the Red Sea or a mere boy with a sling and some stones going up against a mean, trash talking 9 ft tall giant but it is the same principle. My faith gets stronger and stronger the closer I get to God. The more I see Him and see His character in action, the more I can believe that He could say “Let there be light’ and there was light. I can put my faith in the truth of His story. After all He created the monkey, the cat and Charlie Brown, plus it might have provided a little comedy relief in heaven that day.