Amanda's Epistle

The continuing story of my life in Thailand

Life with Jam (Part 5)

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Jam with Johnny  Feb. 2012

Jam with Johnny
Feb. 2012

It was nice that we lived only two blocks from the school.  Jam and I always walked to school, with the exception of the one year we had to ride the bus (which we hated).  One time it was snowy and icy and we had a hard time getting up the hill.  My solution was to walk in the neighbor’s yards, as frozen grass is easier to walk on than frozen pavement.  But Jam, always a stickler for following the rules, said it wasn’t polite to walk in someone’s yard.  So she walked on the street and kept falling down.  Then, when we got to the top of the hill, a neighbor poked her head outside and called to us, “Hey you kids!  Don’t you know school is closed today?”

I was laughing.  Jam was mad.  We then sat on our butts and slid back down the hill.

We loved snow days.  Since we lived at the bottom of a hill, we would take out sled out and slide down it.  Unfortunately, the hill was also a road, as well as an emergency snow route.  So they usually plowed it pretty quickly and ruined our fun.  We would stand outside with the other kids and BOO at the snow plow.

Another time we got to go to Colorado for a youth conference over Christmas break.  This was when we both discovered that skiing is NOT our thing.  We spent most of our time hanging out in the lodge.  I also had a camera and had fun taking pictures of people.  I really wanted Jam to fall down on her skis so I could get a photo of it, but Jam refused to do so.  So I just waited until she really did fall down…and then took a picture before I would help her up.

Jam was pretty mad about that too.

Just as we never got the hang of skiing, being from Kansas where there’s nowhere to ski, we never really learned to swim either.  Mom took us to swimming lessons with Deb when we were really small, but both of us were terrified.  Jam didn’t want to pick her feet up off the bottom of the pool.  I didn’t want to put my head underwater.  So as it was, Deb was the only one who ever learned how to swim.

Not that we had much chance to swim either.  The only two pools available were downtown, and Dad the cheapskate only took us there once or twice a summer.  Even when we went on family vacations, Dad usually opted for camping rather than hotels that had pools.  If we were lucky, the campground would have one.

One of these vacations was in Branson, in which our tent was pitched on top of really hard rocks.  And it rained all night and the tent leaked.  The only thing we actually liked about that vacation was going to Silver Dollar City.

But most of our vacations were in Colorado, where our Dad grew up and where our grandparents lived.  We actually got to ride horses and go fishing out there.  One of our relatives still has a log cabin up on a mountain that was built in the ’20s, so we always wound up going up there.

In spite of nearly burning it down.

Jam and I were sleeping up in the attic of the cabin, along with Deb and our cousin Rachel.  Then cousin Stve came running upstairs and said there was a fire!  We all went outside in our nightclothes and saw Uncle Frank and Uncle Les, along with cousin Colin, trying to put out a fire in the woodshed behind the cabin.  Actually, we didn’t SEE them doing anything.  None of us had time to put in our eyewear, so all we could see was a bunch of blurry figures running around.

There was a drought that year, so a fire was terribly dangerous if we couldn’t get it out.  Cousin Steve jumped into his car and drove down to the lodge to report the fire.  They did get a fire squad up there, but by that time, the others had put most of it out and we were all able to go back to bed.  We later told the story to our parents (and also Steve’s parents), who had been staying in another cabin and slept through the whole thing.

We had a lot of adventures on vacation, or afterwards.  One year, Deb and I had to fly back from Colorado early, as I had to go to band camp and Deb had to work.  When we arrived, we had a lot of hassle at the airport, as my luggage didn’t show up AND there was a bomb scare in the parking lot.  Then when we got home, we get a call from Mom saying Jam broke her leg.

It seems they were having spaghetti, Jam’s favorite, but didn’t provide parmesan cheese. When she got up to get some, she tripped over the table and her leg hit one of the metal posts. Dad then had to drive her into town to the hospital…and the dog ate Jam’s spaghetti.

Jam was pretty mad about that too.

I’m rather glad I missed out on the trip back.  Mom said they found out which rest areas provided good handicapped bathrooms and which ones did not.  Jam had to be in a wheelchair with such a huge cast on her leg.  But when they finally arrived home, it was then MY job to help Jam around the house and in using the bathroom.

But I did win the bet.  Since Mom never told us which leg Jam broke, Deb and I made a bet as to which one it was.

Jam didn’t care for us gambling at her expense either.  But she was at least glad she was already done with school.  That would’ve REALLY been a hassle.  Jam was able to recover and walk again, but her foot was never fully straight after that.  She also had metal pegs put into her ankle, so we were never sure if she would set off metal detectors or not.

Turns out, they do a good job so people don’t have that problem.  Jam was able to fly out to Thailand with everyone else twice.  The first time was supposed to be for my wedding, which was delayed.  So my family stayed in a guesthouse near my tiny rental room.  They also sat on my bed…and it broke in half.

Thai beds were not made to hold up four Americans.

Jam did get a bridesmaid dress out of the deal, even though she never got to be in the wedding.  This was good, as in my husband’s tradition, I’m supposed to give a gift to my older sisters for marrying first and “surpassing” them in status.

Deb says she’s still waiting for her gift.

The second time Jam came out was when everyone came to meet little Johnny.  We actually had our truck by this time and didn’t have to rent a vehicle for everyone.  Jam got to ride inside, being so tall, while Deb and I were usually stuck in the back of the truck.  They stayed in our house in the village, where we had put in a mattress for Mom and Dad and a pair of sofas for Deb and Jam.  The sofas were too short for Jam though, so in true Thai  style, she slept on a mat on the floor.

That was the last time I got to see her in person.



Author: amandachwa

I am an English teacher living in Thailand with my Lisu husband (a Thai citizen) and our children, ages 10, 4, and 18 months.

One thought on “Life with Jam (Part 5)

  1. I have enjoyed hearing your stories about Jam and the family. I’m so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for the family.

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