Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shining Star

I have a star on my hand. It has been drawn with blue marker, only my skin has turned it to sort of a bluish-green.

My teacher put it there.

I know she drew it on my hand because I had a good day and this was her way of communicating that to my mother.

I wasn’t that impressed with the prize, especially when I had no idea what I had done to deserve it.

I suppose I hadn’t yelled at anyone that day. I distinctly remember one instance when I told a group of girls, “You think you’re just so smart because you’re in Ms. Otto’s class!”.

They looked at me like I’d grown two heads. But, what ELSE do you say to girls who flock together and don’t let anyone else into their group?

Mean girls…

Cute hair, cute ribbons, cute clothes, cute dimples…

I did not fit in.

I didn’t really want to, though. I didn’t have any desire to play dolls, or house at recess, which is what they did. I preferred to play with the boys. Dodge ball, kickball, tag, etc.

Much better.

Though the boys never excluded me, I knew I was doing the "wrong" thing. Boys weren't going to invite me to slumber parties, or skating parties, or ask me to sit with them at lunch.

I understood that I didn't really fit in most places. My teacher had issues with me, the girls avoided me, the boys tolerated me...I knew this.

Then, one day, I got an admirer all my own...

In my wranglers and button down shirt, I walked up to the librarian and said in a very proper tone because he was the librarian, “Excuse me, but would you have any books by Rudyard Kipling?”.

After he survived his heart attack at hearing that come out of the mouth of a first grader, I became the twinkle in his eye. He didn't need me to be a boy, or wear ribbons, or listen.

I was fine just as I was.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fashion Nonsense

I have absolutely no fashion sense. I know what I like and I usually wear what I like despite fashion, sex appeal, or Labor Day rules.

I am a Wrangler girl. Or, a Levi Strauss girl. Both brands were bought from Wiener’s Department store.

Jeans were my choice of apparel because more could be done in jeans. It didn’t matter if you were running, or jumping, or climbing, or hanging upside down because nothing “unmentionable” could be seen and denim was allowed to be dirty, or ripped.

I didn’t particularly care for dresses.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I loved dresses that twirled. If they were “plain jane” what was the point in wearing them? I didn’t turn any more heads in those dresses than I did in my Wranglers or Levi’s.

There was one more plus to wearing jeans…

I could wear my favorite shirt. It was pink.

I know, shocking! My favorite shirt was pink!

But, I didn’t care about the color since the quote written on the shirt summed up my whole attitude, reason for living, and belief system.

People would see me coming and know EXACTLY what I was about. It gave me leave to prove it as well, which I did regularly.

So, exactly what was the quote on my shirt you ask?


Score for me, for girls everywhere, and for my mother who had the sense to buy it for me.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Febrile Convulsions…

That was what the doctor called them. I didn’t know that as a child, of course. My next memory of Bill and his health dealt with the giving of his medicine. (In a teaspoon of applesauce.)

I do know, that after that day, I was more by his side than ever before. I wasn’t waiting for something to happen again. I wasn’t scared.

I was soaking up him. Because, in my six-year-old mind, Bill was fine. He was smiling and playing and doing all the things he used to do. I thought it was all over, and I wasn’t going to waste a second.

But, it wasn’t. He continued to have seizures until he was two. Grace went with my mom for some of his doctor visits and Mom told me the Febrile Convulsions may not be the root of the problem.

He might have an immature brain stem. It would develop over time, but there was no telling what it would do to him in the long run.

It is important to tell you that I didn’t know about the brain stem concern until I was 13. Mom also told me, at that time, that the doctors said he wouldn’t be able to walk or talk.

But, the only effects I saw from those horrible tremors was a boy who concentrated really, really hard on crawling, and climbing, and walking, and talking.

If he hadn’t been so determined maybe it wouldn’t have happened. And, of course it didn’t happen the normal way. The walking, the talking…it all has its own story.

People called this his struggle and his triumph.

And, I might agree with them…but I think it was harder to grow up with four women in the house…

Saturday, September 3, 2011

All Is Not Quiet On The Homefront

An ear-splitting scream shoots through my brain. My eyes flash open and I see pink walls and my mother bolting to the door…

My bedroom was pink.

I know…yuck.

But, I shared that room with my sisters and they liked pink, so I endured it for their sake.

I am still in the first grade and still taking naps, but I think my mother just made us lay down because she was tired, and on this particular day my cousin was visiting.

This was her first time to visit and spend the night with us. We were all very excited and probably screaming and running all through the house.

Hence, the nap.

We were all lying down in our pink bedroom. My mother, too. I had my eyes closed, but I wasn’t asleep.

Still, the scream from Bill’s room would’ve woken me even if I’d been dead.

My mother shot up and crashed through the room, flying to the door and to Bill. I knew something was wrong. I could tell by his scream. He sounded like he was hurt, but how could that be? He was in his crib.

I followed Mom.

I know I did, but I don’t remember how she got to the living room with Bill. And I don’t remember our neighbor, Miss Holly coming over. She was there, though, beside my mom and watching Bill’s every breath.

And then, I watch my mother, holding nine-month-old Bill in her lap as his eyes roll back into his head.

She cries his name, calling him back to her, her tone conveying a fear that wrenches at my heart and trembles in my blood.

Bill’s eyes were white. Not brown. They rolled and the bottom dropped out of my stomach.

Mom stuck her finger down his throat, and he vomited. I know now that she was keeping him from swallowing his tongue.

I was paralyzed. My thoughts, my body…frozen. All I knew was a fear so acute I could barely breathe.

My sisters and cousin were gone from my mind, as I watched my mother struggle helplessly. I knew the ambulance was coming. In the fog that was my thoughts, I heard Mom say that to Miss Holly.

At some point, I came back to myself…someone had to check on the girls…

I left the living room and went down the long hallway to my pink bedroom where my sisters and cousin were waiting.

I don’t know their impressions of this day now that they are adults, but I remember having to answer a bunch of questions.

Is Bill gonna be ok? Is he hungry? Why won’t he stop crying? Why is Miss Holly here? Can I go home to my house?

I did the best I could and half-way through their questions I realized I was calming down. My sisters and my cousin needed me and that helped me focus.

The ambulance was coming, Miss Holly was with my mother, and Bill was still crying…so he was breathing.

I stayed with the girls. I don’t remember the ambulance arriving, or anything else that day.

However, some images are very striking. So much, in fact, that when I think of that day…I am there.

An ear-splitting scream. Rolling eyes. Tortured cries. Vomit.

And pink walls. Cotton candy pink…