Sunday, April 8, 2012

Early Childhood Memories (Ch. 1)

My very first memory is of me and my biological mother making a snowman when I was three.  We were in the middle of a brief stay with her father at the time.  I can specifically remember marveling in the magic of actually "making a man out of snow."  My mother sent me in the kitchen to get a carrot from my Nana for the nose.  I ran in with purpose in my black and white saddle shoes clapping up the stone stairs  to the side of the house.  I was bursting with pride!  I remember my mother being excited too and it rubbed off on me to the point where  I was about shaking.  We just made the most incredible thing in the world... a real life man of snow!  Afterwards we went in the house and my mother told me, "go and give your Nana a kiss," and I remember I wasn't fond of doing this.  She took the cigarette out of her mouth, bent down and gave me a wet kiss right on the lips.  I felt equal parts repulsion and love.  My kisses meant a lot to my Nana and this made me feel important, but I had to endure the bad breath and nicotine saturated saliva in return.  Never too early to learn life's a tradeoff I guess. :)

My second memory is in the same house and at the same age.  I was three years old and running down the hallway in my favorite black and white saddle shoes.  My cousin was chasing me.  I was faster than her and wanted to make sure she was still coming after me and not giving up.. I loved to be chased, but I think what I really loved was being caught!  I looked over my shoulder and when I turned around I ran straight into the TV stand and split my head open.  My cousin ran up the stairs to get my aunt and she called an ambulance.  I arrived at the emergency room covered in blood and scared to death.  I wanted my mother.  I was laid on a table under a really big bright light when I heard her voice.  I scrambled to get up, but the nurses wouldn't let me  They held my arms and legs down on each side.  I became hysterical.  I just wanted my mother... the person I knew would make it all better.. the person who would make my boo boos go away.. the person who loved me. When she finally sat down next to me she held my hand and told me I was a brave girl and she smiled at me.  She was so beautiful.  Everything was OK then.  I was brave and my mother was beautiful.... and she loved me.

Looking back at these earlier memories makes me sad.  I don't have very many happy memories about my mother.  Cracking my head open when I was three was a good memory.  Here is me and my cousin after I got stitched up.

Later in life I lost touch with my grandparents completely.  Then when I was 19 I tried to look up my grandfather using the world wide web.  I called and left messages on 4 different answering machines that were listed with his same name.  "Hello, I'm looking for _____________, I think you might be my grandfather.  Please call me if you are, I'd like to meet you."

I went to meet him for what felt like the first time for me, when I was 20.  He had pictures of me as a little girl everywhere.   He cried and kissed me and wouldn't stop staring at me.  I felt so strange there.  I remembered every single room in his house.  I didn't need any directions to the bathroom.  I knew up the stairs to the right was a bedroom and straight ahead was another bath.  But I didn't know him.  

Memory is a strange thing.  I wish I could pick and choose what memories I could keep and what ones I could forget.  I would keep my memory of making a man out of snow, and I would forget the time when I was 7 and my mother pulled me out of bed at 3 in the morning high on drugs. 

She was sure there was a UFO outside and wanted me to tell her if it was really there or not.  She scared me.  "Come here real quick, look out there and tell me you see it!.. Is it there?"  I looked out the window and realized it was just the street light in front of the house.  I stared at her completely confused.  Is this a game?  Is it a trick?  I felt panicky and hot all over my face.  What does she mean?  The street light is a UFO?  I started to cry.  I didn't know what she wanted from me and I didn't want her to get upset.  I didn't know if I should say it was a UFO, or a street light, or a street light that was a UFO.  She started laughing low and deep and it rose higher till she was cackling like a witch.  I peed my pants.  She yelled at me, screamed at me, no doubt angry that I had killed her buzz and made a mess.  As a punishment I went to bed in my wet clothes.

I still love my mother.  I always will.  I hate my mother too, and I'm not sure if I always will or not.  The miracle of my life is that despite my upbringing I turned out fairly normal. :)  It is by the grace of God that I can tell my story and let you all know that your past does not have to be repeated.  You do not have to be your mother's child.  You can choose your own path.  I choose to walk mine with God.  I want to have my own children one day and they will never have to see the kinds of things I saw.  I look forward to reliving a happier childhood through them.  I hope to give them only happy memories...... memories like the magic of making a real life man of out snow perhaps.

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