Saturday, March 10, 2012

Memories of Childhood

I think of my childhood as fairly normal until I talk to someone about it.  Seems they find having a bone disease that puts you in a wheelchair and a schizophrenic mother rather odd.   I always think my childhood ended when my mother's schizophrenia was diagnosed.  I was 13 years old.   At 18, I  committed my mother to the state hospital for the insane. After treatment. I brought her home again and made her my responsibility for the rest of her life.

Navajo child photo by Neeta Lind
When I look back I realize there were other odd things in my childhood.  I lived in Austin, Texas but I had a Navajo playmate when I was five.  Texans had done an excellent job of removing Native Americans from Texas.  Early Texans either killed Native Americans or married them.  I have a Cherokee and Choctaw ancestor.  I never thought that having a Native American playmate was odd.  His mother and my mother were friends. What struck me as odd was that his name was Norman.  His family moved away and my mother lost track of them.  I wonder what Norman is doing now.

When I was four, I remember being downtown shopping with my mother.  After much whining on my part, she bought me candy cigarettes.  Hey, this was the fifties: smoking was cool.  My mother only allowed me one.  I was very miffed about that.  I got my revenge ( totally unplanned, I swear) in the elevator of the only department store in Austin.  As the doors on the elevator closed on a full elevator,  I turned to mother and said "Give me my cigarettes."  Mother did not flinch although the elevator was now silent.  She looked at me and said "No."  She did not explain the situation to a bunch of strangers.  I did learn she had felt some consternation when she told my paternal grandmother what had happened.   I did not get the "cigarettes" until we were home.  I never remember having another pack.

I was a smart kid, but it took me a long time to realize that.  I always expected to fail the next test in school.  I  never did.   I just thought I was lucky but weird.  As an adult, I know I am just weird.  Most days that does not bother me.

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