My therapy appointment last week was tough to say the least. I sat in the chair shaking and trying to spill my guts about all the fear I was feeling…Was I going to be homeless, lose my dogs, starve? I had no idea.
My therapist finally said to me, “I want you to remember a time when you felt good and tell me about it.” I didn’t have to think for long..I said, “Living at my grandparents house, between the ages of 10 and 12, was the best time of my life. The only truly carefree days I have ever known.”
I began the story with the night we finally broke free from my father.
My brother’s used to wait by their bedroom window and yell down the stairs to Mom, letting her know that Dad was home and telling her to get on the couch, pretend she was asleep. Maybe he wouldn’t beat her. It didn’t work that night. My sister and I crawled into the bottom bunk together, holding pillows over our heads so we wouldn’t hear. We heard. I don’t know what came over me, but at some point I found myself peeking through the small opening between the stairs and top floor, just in time to see my father raise his fist. I watched as my mother went airborne and landed on the other side of the room. I don’t remember going downstairs. I must have been crazy. The next thing I recall is standing between my parents, Mom on the floor behind me, Dad standing in front of me looking so imposing and threatening in his uniform. As Mom would tell it to me years later, I stood all of 3 feet tall, hands on my hips, my little knees shaking, yelled at my father to just go to bed! I don’t remember much more of that night. My brother woke my sister and I later on and said, “Come on…we’re going to Grammy and Papa’s house.”
Sweetest words I ever heard. I loved it at their house. I remembered waking up in the bedroom with the slanted ceiling, the scent of summer coming in the windows,the breeze lifting the white curtains with the little puff balls on them. The smell of those sheets was like a warm hug, not a scent you get from dryer sheets, but from bleach, bluing and fresh air. Reaching my hand up behind me and running my fingers around the curly cues of the white wrought iron. I was safe. I was HOME.
The sound of glass milk bottles rattling as the milk man made his delivery.
Going downstairs in the morning, Grammy at the kitchen table, the sunlight falling across the linoleum floor, warming my feet. I’d get my bowl of cereal and stand by the door, the smell of warming wood and metal screens. It was an old screen door with glass panes for winter, screens for summer, and a spring at the top that made it slam shut when we let it go, a sound that still soothes me to this day.
I couldn’t recall my mother being around much then. She was either in and out of psychiatric facilities or…I don’t know, but it didn’t matter. I only know I was happy. I had a chance, for a while, to just be a kid.
Playing, playing, playing. That was my world. The old pump organ in the garage, climbing over boxes to get to it so I could sit and pump the petals, making nothing even close to music, but it was fun. Making leaf “houses” with my sister, which were basically just an outline in leaves..We would make rooms and doors and spend hours with our dolls and dishes playing house. We used our imaginations back then…remember? Skating on the “pond” which was really just a swamp. My brothers and a neighbor placing a barrel in the water during the summer so that they could jump it on skates in the winter, and watching as the neighbor kid jumped it and went through the ice on the other side. That kid just disappeared, and we laughed so hard.
Sledding down the hill at the cemetery out onto the frozen pond. My little brother was buried at the top of that hill. The time my best friend A. and I took the small dinghy out on the “pond” during a dry summer and getting stuck in the muck, having to be rescued by her older brother.
Behind A’s house was a large tree that had a rope swing and a tree house that the boys had built. I loved that swing, though the wooden slats that were nailed on as “steps” were a bit scary. One time, A. our other friend L. and I were out there swinging. It was my turn. I climbed the steps carefully, slid myself across the branch, A. swung the rope until I caught it. I place my foot in the loop at the bottom of the rope, scooted to the edge of the branch, and launched. I left the branch and stopped short about a foot or two, in midair….my underpants had gotten caught on a nail that was sticking out of the branch! I hung there screaming, wondering how long I could hold onto the rope as A. and L. stood 14 feet below me, laughing their butts off. Finally, L. scurried up the tree, slid across and somehow managed to pull me back to the branch. I pulled myself together and launched again…Oh, what a feeling it was! That first few seconds of falling until the rope snapped taut and I sailed through the air…laughing.
What a world it was. I really need to put together a readable story here. It was such a blessed time in my life, so many things to recall. Maybe I will…
A quick update on our situation. Hubby is finally going to do a roofing job on Tuesday. We still don’t have rent, but I’m hoping the landlord will give us time. The other bills have all come in, but will just have to wait. I am trying each day to just breathe, just BE. It will all be okay…somehow. Please keep us in prayer. Hugs