Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Comforting Memories

(Continued from last Saturday . . .)
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.


  1. Hi Dee! You have such a good memory of that year. I am amazed. Your memories held you, and comforted the little girl who didn't understand the life she was left with.

    You present a picture of such loving parents, it still seems so out of character for them to leave you in this way. Yet, I know that when faced with difficult choices, parents will choose what they think is best. We can't truly understand their reasoning, in what must have been turbulent years for them. I'm guessing it would have been in the 1940's, and I know from my own experiences that parents can make some pretty unbelievable choices at times!

    I'm looking forward to reading more!

  2. It is amazing reading this and seeing those pictures. Even then you were so wise to hold onto the good memories.

    As always, I can't wait to read more.

  3. What a beautifully told story, and I felt sadness for that little girl who felt so left behind. Your story is very touching...keep writing!

  4. Dear Dee--

    Your poignant story & your beautifully written words have INDEED touched me! We have never met yet I consider you a good friend.

  5. I, too, am astounded at how vividly you recall events from those early years, but then, my 94 year old father-in-law has memories as vivid, so I guess you are among the minority who have excellent recall.

    Undoubtedly, your parents loved you very much and they clearly were great fun to be with. It's a tragedy that you ended up feeling so abandoned, but as Sandi has commented, they obviously found themselves in a position where they truly believed they'd made the right decision at that time. Had your grandmother been a more loving soul, she would have been able to reassure you of their love and to fill your emptiness with her love, not break your spirit with meanness.

  6. Dee,
    Having never been through what you did or faced with the decision your parents felt they had to make I am emotionally confused. My heart goes out to the child and anger towards your parents and grandmother is a raging war within me. I'm sure you will explain as time goes on the how's and why's it's just so befuddling to my mind how anyone would walk away from a child.
    I feel the same way Fishducky does however and am happy to have found a new friend. You are a dear sweet lady and I am blessed that you are a part of my life.

  7. How could we not be touched by your story, it is such a sad one.
    That poor, lost, little girl.

  8. The details about the songs your mother sang--excellent. Creates a great image.

  9. I loved reading your post! The photos really add to your touching and vivid depictions of your family and childhood. I've spent a lot of time on genealogy lately, and know your history will live on because of your efforts.


  10. You are doing a great job of telling your story.

  11. What wonderful memories you had to cling to!! I also just love seeing the old pictures. Brings your memories to life. Thank so much for sharing your life with us. :)

  12. I've awarded Coming Home To Myself the Versatile Blogger Award today-I enjoy reading your posts, and thank you for your support of mamawolfe! Please read my post to see your award!

  13. I find it interesting that you cannot remember the neighbor's name! Only because your memory is so clear of other events of the time! Life is so complicated -- from the child's view to the adult's -- our motives, our understanding and how all this impinges on our lives and futures and the lives of those we love and who love us. Decisions we make because we believe it's for the best and there is no way to tell whether or not we were right -- and so often there is no 'right' decision -- you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

    Wow though! You are a great writer!