Sunday, August 17, 2014

Memoir # 1

In observing 50 years on the planet, I am writing 50 memoirs through the year

Here is Memoir #1

A Cat/ A Couch

     This will be short. I was maybe three years old. But before I get on with the first of 50 memories of my life, I pause to think about memoir, the French word for 'the study of memory'. I recall my own children with their window eyes; pooling-- the organ that they will grow into, taking it all in, like an aperture on a camera.

     What is it that impresses a first memory? Is it that the heart and brain are already programmed to absorb certain sights, sounds, tastes, textures? Are likes and dislikes already established? Do we have an acute sense of right and wrong, good and evil? Are we drawn to what is lovely, noble, worthy, and do we suppress the not so pleasant visuals, because our souls are built for purity? Or maybe we have a want for approval and we chase what is always beyond our reach? We seek to conquer, and we are adventurous in our quest for imagination.

     I was a breach baby. This is what I've heard: If the mother is under stress, the breach baby is intuitive and sticks close to the mother's heartbeat, refusing to turn head down to face the world. I wish I could remember the womb, but instead I imagine tugging on the umbilical cord, swimming around like a mermaid, a lifeguard (which was decided in the womb). Water holds me. I don't churn against it, but sense the turmoil of a current that would be my life.

My soul knows. It was in the womb where I started accumulating images, sounds, and feelings, building a frame of reference; a memory bank.

     Of course, that is the writer in me, constructing a story, from bits and pieces of what I've heard. But maybe it is the Holy Spirit revealing what really happened; a grace.

     But my first memory isn't that deep or profound. 

     I was itty bitty. I wore Mary Jane shoes and a dress that barely covered ruffled panties. My Dad placed a large baseball cap backwards on my head. The kitty scurried behind a tweedy beige couch. He looked Siamese, but I doubt it because I've heard that he was gathered from the pound to be a good mouser. His name was Fred. Dad tells me that he carried his prizes up on a hot tin roof. Dead mice and rats everywhere.

     The gap between the sofa and the wall was sliver thin. I reached to pet his furry softness. I remember his cat eyes. He swiped his paw at me.

     I feel the scratch, even now.




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

50 Memoirs

Stuck In The Middle With You

....and I'm wondering what it is I should do.

I'm so scared, in case I fall off my chair,

and I'm wondering how I'll get down those stairs.

Clowns to the left of me,

Jokers to the right...

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

- Stealers Wheel

So here I am, observing my 50th birthday.

Smack dab in the middle of life.

Of course, if you know me, there is an old song lyric to summon the moment.

Note the aforementioned.

At the beginning of the summer, I launched a project.

I am writing a biography about my son Paul.

It's tough for me, because I am very much a part of his life.

I want to weave in my own feelings about autism and parenting.

I can hear my mother in law asking, (with her index finger in the air), "Who is this about, you or Paul?"

I've learned from Geri Anderson, that I need to keep the focus on Paul.

I call her my 'Blind Editor.'

She can't see that my skin has grown reptile. It is like alligator bark.

She is not picking on me. By reading a couple of classics, aloud this summer, e.g., Jane Eyre and David Copperfield, I reckon that Geri is right. I must reel it in, hone the ink, and remember that Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens never veer away from the protagonist.

So I write.

And I'm groovin'.

Yet after writing 7 or so solid chapters, I am in the middle. The white page is so truthfully blinding, that I panic. I need a break. I need to write about me.

The other day, I woke from an afternoon snooze on the back porch. I heard our neighbor's baby crying. It took me back about 17 years ago, when I had a few crying toddlers. Afternoon naps had become a necessity to make it through dinner, dishes, baths, and bedtime stories. I called it the second shift. That crying baby stirred a longing for those old days.

Rubbing my eyes, and rising to fix dinner, I realize the maxim, "The days are long, but the years are short."

In honor of my birthday, I thought it good practice to pen 50 essays.

A slice of life, or in this case, a slice of cake for 50 pithy memories gathered throughout these years.

Stay tuned.

Memoir #1 releases on August 8, 2014.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Front Yard Tye Dye

I think photos help us remember. Many pictures taken of my kids, I'm not in them, because well, I was the one snapping the camera.

I tried very hard to imprint certain memories in my brain, like an old fashioned Xerox machine. I'd think, "You'll want to remember this."

They were significant events like birthday parties and first words, but they were also the everyday stuff, like wake ups from naps and fevers during mid-night.

I was aware that the kids would have their own take on the situations later on.

I didn't realize how much their memories would mean to me though...

Did Mark remember this summer hot, hot! (and I mean one of the hottest ever) days because I took pictures? Or would he recall it anyway, because the colors were vivid, the sun sweltering, the popsicles cool...the cicadas buzzing, the geraniums blooming?

Well I'm not sure, but I can't read his writing without a catch in my throat, and I'm sure glad I took a lot of pictures.

And there would be one more to make eight: 3 sons and 3 daughters

                                                           Front Yard Tye Dye

My brother kicks the ball to me,

We chase back and forth,

The courtyard seems miles long and wide.

My Mom calls us in,

"They're almost dry."

Sporadic blasts and twists of color,

All five siblings each has their own,

...but all by the grace of Mom's hands.

She washes our paws of dirt and melted popsicle.

We were so happy...

The seven of us living in that Virginia apartment.

Life was so simple.