Childhood

November 30, 2012 § 5 Comments

Mom is sick – bronchitis – has been since my Ma-maw passed last Monday. We’re all certain she caught it after all the travelling back and forth to the hospital and nursing home. Ma-maw would have been 99 in December and I am so thankful to have gotten a picture of Lily and her great-grandmother together, meeting for the first time after 100 years!

Lilly and great Maw maw Atcher2

 When I was little, I would stay with Ma-maw for a week or two over the summer. She lived on 62 acres in Vine Grove, Kentucky in a little country house with an apple orchard behind it. I wrote a poem about a few of my memories there:

Childhood 

I was born in a land of vines – the third of three – the only one with earthy eyes.

We sung from chords tangled into jungle, a gangly blemish in a field and slid into sink holes

We drove the road parallel the river, the train, the gun smoke rising from the woods – the River Girl’s Lounge, a pasty pink nipple popped from sheets of rust and overgrowth and old tires.

Patchy clearings and piles of sticks, split boughs and purple buds that salted the brown of winter like prophesies sent from Spring

I learned to sew – I stitched pouches and Barbie clothes.

At night, I slept next to Alta. I thought I might see the same brown face with bright brown eyes hovering by her window – the one my mother saw when she was young – his breath mingling with the voices of crickets – his skin a dewy guise.

In the morning I watched her dress – draped in her own skin, the sigh of the body – her breasts oblong, her hands translucent – girded in nude hosiery, shoes with holes cut to ease the pain.

She hung her clothes on a line in the cellar. The smell of potatoes and mold, cool hard cement, these are elements of my childhood.

The poem is a work in progress but it captures a few of those memories I had when I stayed with her. What will Lily remember about her childhood when she’s an adult?

One Monday when I arrived to pick Lily up from her Paw-paw’s, I found her sitting on the couch with her cousin Cody and her aunt Courtney looking at a book. Without realizing it, I have felt that Lily was solely our possession – as if the three of us, Myke, Lily and I were the whole family.

 I felt the same when Mom showed me this picture of Lily and Emma, my niece.

Lily and cousin Emma

Lily and cousin Emma

 You don’t realize you’ve taken something for granted until God gives you the ability to see something from a different perspective. Before Lily, I didn’t have much interest in extended family stuff. I loved, even liked our families, but now we are more eager to see Lily learn to love her family too.

 I can remember being a little girl and which uncles I liked best and what it felt like to spend the night at my grandparent’s houses. Sometimes it felt lonely since I was the youngest – my two oldest sisters, Marcy and Amber never stayed. Ma-maw Atcher taught me how to sew, Granni Moore took me shopping but otherwise I had to find ways to entertain myself.

 I explored the expanse of Granni’s house. She had walk-in closets in every bedroom where she kept things in boxes and strange devices she used to polish Cliff’s shoes and red velvet lent brushes for his suits – fur coats, holiday decorations and sometimes I’d ask if she’d let me have something, it didn’t matter what. She’d answer, “One day, this will be yours.”

She had high heel slippers, all kinds of makeup and fancy brushes and combs that laid on mirrored pedestals. The bedrooms upstairs were always kempt, like no one ever slept in them. But at bed time, I wished to be home. I didn’t like being left alone with the tick of the clock. At Granni’s, we went to bed at the same time; I didn’t like that. At home, I knew Dad stayed up watching M.A.S.H. and felt comforted knowing somebody was awake in the house.

 

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