During that kindergarten school year, I often cried myself to sleep. But some nights I simply lay remembering my mommy and daddy and little brother. Many memories comforted me.
I remembered Daddy sitting on the floor with me. On a big sheet of paper, he’d draw a house—the one we were going to live in someday. He’d carefully add a door, a chimney, and two windows with shutters. Then he’d scissor open the shutters so I could fold them over the windows. He’d cut around three sides of the door, and I’d walk two of my fingers through it and pretend to be a little girl going into my new house.
Each night he’d sing to me before bedtime. “Dream train, please carry me back. Dream train stay on the right track . . . ” And I’d sing along with him. Then Mommy would read to me. I became friends with Ferdinand the bull, Madeline, Peter Rabbit, Raggedy Ann, the Velveteen Rabbit, the Little Engine, Babar the little elephant, and Ping. Afterward, Mommy and Daddy would kiss me good night and turn off the lights.
During those kindergarten days, I’d remember Mommy singing in the kitchen when she made our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. She sang, “I Get a Kick Out of You” and danced around the kitchen table. She told my baby brother and me she was “shimmying.”
Throughout each kindergarten day, I missed my two-year-old brother. He and I had often gotten into mischief together. That past Christmas, I’d pulled him into the closet, shut the door behind us, and showed him how to punch a hole in all the wrapped Christmas gifts so we could figure out what they were. Mommy didn’t think this was funny and ordered us not to open that closet door again.
He and I also played outside in the winter in a bathroom tub that had ice in it. We’d chip away at the ice with kitchen forks and spoons on our trip to China. Then we’d stand on the iceberg and pretend to be polar bears.
Mommy didn’t think this was a good idea either. “You could fall and bang your heads open,” she said. I thought maybe seeing a banged-open head would be interesting. She disagreed.
She ushered us inside, swirled a blanket over the card table, and played house with us. We ate our lunch underneath the covered table, munching our sandwiches and getting a milk ring around our mouths. The three of us sang “Dream Train” and “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “I’m Back in the Saddle Again.”
Mommy and Daddy and my little brother were gone, but I still had Gene and Champion and Dusty for companions. I played with them each day. No more campfires in the hallway. Instead I played on the neighbors’ front porch. Sometimes I rode my tricycle up and down the sidewalk. I missed giving rides to my baby brother.
When I got tired, I’d sit on their front steps and look up and down the street to see if maybe my daddy’s car was coming and my family would love me again. When the neighbor lady—whose name I can’t remember—called me to supper, I’d get up and trudge into the house. They hadn’t come, but maybe Grandma was wrong. Maybe they’d come tomorrow.
(to be continued on Thursday . . .)
PS: For this week and next, my postings will be about this time in my life. The time of abandonment. Then I’ll post for two or three weeks about my life in the convent. I invite you to journey with me as I write this online memoir. I greatly appreciate your thoughts and comments. It is so gratifying to know that my words and my story touch you in some way. Thank you.