Dark Memories (or Turning on the Light)

Christmas Memory
Christmas Memory

Memories that cloud the mind can keep happiness at bay. From the age of 4, I have been carrying thoughts of an event that has put a damper on all things “Christmas”. That is one awfully long time!

Let me explain how it all began. As that young girl I was living in a very old three story home in Illinois with my mother and grandmother. It was Christmas morning. My mother decided to hand me one present at a time.

I unwrapped present number one. Disappointment. It was a small black plastic comb for my hair. Next came present number two. More disappointment: an under slip for my dress. Finally number three. Glory be: a beautiful momma doll. Then mother snatched it away. “you were not grateful for the first  two. I will not let you have the doll. Maybe next Christmas.”

Of all the things that have happened to me before and since, I don’t ever remember feeling that hurt. The adult me knows I need to forgive my mother. In that attempt I admit I have failed miserably. She only was trying to instill the concept of gratitude. I have attempted to rationalize her intent but I cannot seem to do it.

Knowing I need to knock that unhappiness out of my head, I have hit on a new plan for purging. I will go back through all of the happy togetherness events in our relationship and thank her for those!

Now mother has been in the heaven world for many years but even if she doesn’t hear my ”thank you”, I will hear it and feel it. Hopefully that is what will make the difference for me and this Christmas, every Christmas.

So here goes. My dad, her husband, deserted us when I was not yet two years old. We were living alone in the second story of an old apartment building in Milwaukee.

One day while I was riding on my trike up and down the inner hallway she came out to check on me. She was shocked to see a totally unguarded, open doorway at the end of that second story hall. I believe she saved my life that day through her care and diligence. Thank you Mother, a thousand times thank you.

Next she made a wonderful decision when I was three. She needed to work and so we moved into my grandmothers old home. This was great for me because I had my own attic for a playhouse, my very own bed and bedroom, plus a big back yard to play with my new next door friend Janet. In addition the biggest benefit of all: my grandmother took me everywhere. I had never known that much love. For that choice I thank you Mother!

Now mother had always been enamored with words. She seemed to never use the same word or description twice. Her first job at the age of 16 was working for an attorney where being exact was all important. Her ongoing care with words is what made me so interested in framing my own thoughts and writing. In fact one of my first purchases as an adult was a tremendously large and heavy dictionary. All of that happening before ‘Google”. Thank you Mother for my love of words.

Water any kind of water has always called to me. Lakes, rivers, streams, ocean. Now I know why. On the weekends in summer my mother took me to the lake where we could lay on the sand or wade. Then came the biggest water adventure of all. She saved enough to buy a 1942 Studebaker (built like a tank). She and I climbed into the car for what I felt was the trip of a lifetime. I was only 12 years old and had never been farther from our Illinois home than St. Louis. This trip found us fording a stream in the Tennessee mountains, drinking Coca Colas while sweating through Atlanta Georgia (no air conditioning) and seeing first the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach and then in Miami. Amazing! Thank you Mother. Thank you again and again.

Daytona Beach Post Card:  Memory Grief

There is so much more I still have to thank my mother for but I think this is a good start. If my story has inspired you to be a little more aware of the gifts you have received then I am pleased. Perhaps you too have some attitude or resentment you would like to remove. I know for my part it feels great to have kind loving thoughts circulating in my memories.