This weeks The Red Dress Club Prompt is multiple parts:
Make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. (Maybe it’s an image of your father or mother doing something they did regularly; maybe it’s a visit to a grandmother’s house.)
Jot down a few memories and then pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible. (Take 10-15 minutes to do that…)
My Childhood – before age 12
- My mother “sunburned”
- The evil carbon copy of myself
- Winning my first audition
- My first bike
- Freak Out
- Newspaper thief
- “But I left my homework at home..”
- Rain at Worlds of Fun
- Halloween “Ghoulosh”
My Mother “Sunburned”
Joy rushed through me.
School was out for the day.
I don’t remember how I arrived home anymore – the walk from my “new” first grade school along the busy road classified as “too dangerous.” If I had to guess, my G-ma picked me up and drove me home.
The olive green two story house I had known all of my life. White single car garage – that never had a car in it – just stuff and Daddy’s huge work bench. Slight incline up the driveway to the front door – perfect for careening downhill on my big wheel. White gravel rocks along the house, forming a secret passageway behind the pine bushes that surrounded front. Perfect for writing on the concrete. The smell of freshly mowed grass filling my nose as I passed The Tree showcased dead center in the yard – I could reach it now and escape into the height of the branches from my little sister.
I raced up the driveway, rushed inside, and dumped my backpack upon the floor – empty of books, only carrying my lunchbox and notes from the school – in a time and age before teachers started true homework that early.
My mom was there, curled in the horrid velvety 1970’s orange chair, huddled under a thick blanket despite the warm day and staring blankly at the television in front of her.
“Mom!” I shouted in joy as I raced toward her. She was home! I hadn’t seen her much in the previous weeks. She’d been gone “To Rochester” with my dad, while I’d stayed at my grandparents’ house down the street. Excitement and love filled me as I closed in to give her my usual hug.
“Stop Kelly!” My grandma yelled, stopping me in my tracks. “You have to be careful.”
Careful? With my mother? But she was Mom. She liked hugs!
I looked closer at my mother, the dark circles under her eyes, her waxen complexion, the fragility in her posture.
“Are you sick, Momma?”
She forced a small smile for me. “A little bit sweetie. I’ve been to the doctor in Rochester, remember?”
She pulled the blanket down, her shirt made up of the thinnest material, showing me her upper chest and arms – not pale or tan, but fiery red and angry. “Mommy has a bad sunburn sweetie. I need you to be very gentle with me.”
“Okay, Momma.” I closed the distance while my grandmother watched me like a hawk, ensuring I didn’t further injure my mother. Delicately, barely touching her, I gave my mother the lightest hug I could manage, as if she were glass I feared breaking. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too, sweetie.”
Now I want you to investigate what this memory means to you. Ask yourself the following questions (Take 10-15 minutes to do that.):
Why has this stuck with me? It was the first time – in my 7 year old blissful ignorance – I realized my mother was really sick. It didn’t just mean staying with my grandparents a lot while Mom and Dad were gone – it meant my mother couldn’t do everything she used to be able to do – even something so small, like hug me.
What did this mean to me at the time? I had to be more careful around my mother and help take care of her. I also had to pray a lot so she would get better and be able to play with me again.
Why did I (or someone else in the scene) react the way I (they) did? My grandmother seems overly harsh in this scene, and I get it now. My mother is her very sick baby girl. She was protecting my mother from me as I barreled full tilt toward my her. Had I continued over the short distance and given my mother her traditional greeting, I would have hurt her, badly – possibly making her cry or yell in pain. In a way, my grandmother was also protecting me – so I wouldn’t have to live with the memory of a hug causing my mother to cry out in agony.
How does it feel to look back on it? Terrified and blessed. I had no concept of how close I came to losing my mother at a young age. None. The idea of how different my life would’ve been without her by my side – it scares me – because she was my Unconditional Love through my tortured tween years. Blessed because my mother was a fighter – she wanted to see her two girls grow up and get married. Whether thanks to her will, her young age, her seeking a doctor and discovering what was wrong with her (lymphoma) before it metastasized, or sheer luck – my mother is still with me today.
Here’s a blog I wrote about her as a gift for her 60th birthday last year. Because sometimes our mother’s need to here that even though we had differences, we love them back just as unconditionally as they love us.
How does it still affect me (or not)? I try to never take my mother or another family member for granted. I also try to emulate her and be a wonderful, unconditional loving mother to my two children – letting them know everyday that I love them with all of my heart.
Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed. If I don’t respond to your comment for while, it’s because I’m busy writing, taking care of my kids, or working my way through as many linkups as possible.