vituary: deni

Spending all this time with Oskar has me thinking a lot about my childhood. I spent my summers at Girl Scout camp, outside Augusta, Montana. Linda would put me on the plane, remember my father was a pilot so I could fly for free, and when I got to Montana someone from the Girl Scout council would pick me up. I was the camper who never went home on the weekends. I think Linda needed a break from me. Or maybe she wanted to get me away from some bad influences that existed at home...we will never know for sure.

I think back to that person and realize I was precocious and I am not quite sure I would have wanted to spend a lot of time with me. On the one hand, I was capable of flying alone across the country at age 9, but on the other, I was a know it all (still am).

My fondest memories of camp are with my most favorite camp counselor, Deni. I had lots of great female role models growing up. But Deni was the first woman to actually tell me and show me that I could do anything boys could do other than write my name in the snow with pee! She taught me how to use a knife, a hatchet, a scythe, and how to start a one-match fire. I learned how to flip a pancake with one hand over a fire with her. I went on my first back country hiking trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness with her and learned how not to lose your shit when you were a) not where you were supposed to be when you were supposed to be there and b) confronted with lots of bear shit on the trail when you were not where you were supposed to be. We biked up and down and all the way around Lake Koocanusa, on the border with Canada. I learned to feel empathy for the camper among us who complained the loudest after learning she had lost her mother. I drove a car the first time with Deni. But most of all, we had fun together. She took me home to meet her parents. (Side story, her father was a trucker, as I remember, and when his trucking friends had clothes that needed to be mended, they could throw them out the window in front of their house and her mom would collect them, mend them, and then the guys could pick up the clothes on their way back. Lovely.)

Because I did not know that where were limits placed by society about what I could or could not do Deni was a perfect role model. I am sure there were times when she was probably tired of me, but I don’t think I ever tired of her. All told we spent 7 summers together.

Really, I want to say thank you for putting up with me and for teaching me survival skills that transferred way beyond Girl Scout Camp.

1 comment:

Amy Knizek said...

That was so beautiful. Deni sounds like an amazing role model and woman. Love to her.