When I was a child of 2 ½ years of age my parents split up their marriage. My father took me and my brother who was 5 years older and my mother took my sister who was 13 months older. My father took us to his parents house where his adult sister lived along with her male child . My grandfather was deaf. Granny, as I called the grandmother was not a warm person. We lived in a rancher in the suburbs of Virginia. It was a nice home and we lived in a nice neighborhood. However, strangeness enveloped us there. It was a daily subliminal thought of where am I and where is my mother? The people I lived with where my relatives but distanced themselves from my brother and me. Although we were given all of the necessary meals and clothing, baths, etc., we were lacking in the essential emotion that plays into the early childhood years. When you are that young and not aware of what should determine a healthy childhood, it does not appear to be out of line but somehow there is a difference that you can feel inside. This difference is the matter that makes up your comfort zone in life. The people we were living with did not have a warm side. They came from the Mountains of Tennessee and West Virginia. Their Appalachian nature was very cut and dry about life and they brought the basics of their survival needs with them when they moved to Virginia. Meals were mostly beans and cornbread, sometimes meatloaf. Potatoes were always a staple. Peanut butter and sweet pickles for lunch and hot dogs and chili for Friday night supper along with Wise potato chips which were the craze.
My Aunt Virginia was a woman of probably in her 40’s and bore a son out of wedlock. She was not a “ looker” as they say, so she washer Mother’s dream child that would remain home to assist in all areas. She was an excellent seamstress as she made me many clothes and she like to show off her work. Like a doll, I was dressed on Easter with the spring green hat decorated with silk flowers. At Christmas , I would carry a fur mitten to warm my hands but mostly to show off Virginia’s skills of sewing. Granny was very proud of her daughter and everything she did was praised as well as her son Luther. Not so for the rest of the family ( not sure if that is the right word). Virginia would also wash and curl my hair in the Shirley Temple style and it would require several hours of standing in front of the floor to ceiling heater that heated the house. I was a child of three standing in front of the vent that heated the house until my neck would burn. Then, Granny would praise Virginia for her work. My brother would play as boys do. However, he always seemed not connected. Like myself, he gave the appearance of someone who was a beautiful child being well cared for but without the emotional factor that makes us human. Virginia’s son Luther was about 5 years older than my brother and he was a very cruel child. He liked to kick and hurt my brother and did so on a regular basis. Luther would light Grandfather’s newspaper on fire while he was reading it. Sometimes he would place my his Mother’s straight pins into his Grandfather’s chair to hurt him when he would sit. Granddaddy was a kind man and as I said earlier deaf. He was the janitor at the elementary school and other than his nature of endurance and tolerance of his relatives, I remember that he washed his hands a lot. I always looked back and thought that he might have wanted to wash them from his thoughts.
I played with a child next door. Carolyn was the poster child for Polio at that time and so she needed care. I was stronger by age five and so it was required that I move her from room to room in the wheelchair and help her on assist in any way that I could. I was quite a bit smaller that she was her condition made her dead weight as she did not have good muscle support. However, her mother was glad to have my help and my family where glad to have me out of their way.
Once , I was seated at the table for dinner and found many little green peas upon my plate. As a child does, I moved and pushed the peas around probably playing a game of great diversion. I had been told many times to Eat Your Peas. It was not long that the dinner was coming to a close and impatience was an entrée for this meal so without warning, a glass came down from the hand of my Aunt and landed on the hairclip snapping it open and revealing a sharp stab to my skull resulting in the blood that began to flow through the curls and into my eyes. I had been told to Eat Your Peas.
It was a strange beginnings for certain. Some of what I learned there was to shield myself from people who are out to hurt you. I later researched my ancestry to try to get more pieces of the puzzle and found out that my father had not been the only son. In fact, one male had died at birth several years prior. I took that to mean that Granny was never happy about my father coming along nor was she happy about the fact that he had brought his children there when his marriage failed. In fact, she was never happy.
Recently , in a search for a baby picture of my self , I came upon a picture where I was about 3 years of age standing in the dining area of that house. I held a balloon which could mean it was my birthday. On the back of the pictures had a message written on it. The message said that the floors and the dining room set was the same color but pointed out how much darker the floors looked in the picture. There was no mention of me. Where am I ?