This is my first conscious memory. I woke up to a dark house. It was night, and lightning flashed as a storm raged outside. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was at my grandparents’ house.
I went to the back room that led to the back yard. There was this stuffed caterpillar that was my favorite. I remember tearing off its eye and throwing it out in the rain.
I remember grandma’s parakeet. I loved to play with her birds. I’d climb a chair to reach the cage and take out the bird. Many a time, I’d lose my balance and fall from the chair. It didn’t seem to phase me.
There was one time I put on some galoshes and walked into Grandma’s garden. It was extremely muddy. I sank into the mud so deep that I pulled my feet out of the galoshes and left them.
And there were times when we slept with the electric blanket during the winter. I’d get so warm, that I’d get up and pull the cord out of the socket. I got a mild shock a few times.
One time, when I was four or five, I heard someone say “fish is brain food”. Already wanting to be smart, I got it in my head to call everything “fish”. The drink was “fish”. The peas were “fish”. And yes, if there was actual fish, it was “fish”. I also had a short-lived obsession with having a separate fork for each item on my plate. My cousin’s grandmother soon broke me of that bit of childhood insanity.
My grandmother gardened every year. And one day, she decided that she was going to thin the blackberry canes. I helped as best as I could. But one of the canes embedded and tore a gash in my left eyebrow. I cried that I was going to bleed to death and that I would be blind in that eye. I think I still have that scar.
I remember watching Sesame Street, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, the Lawrence Welk Show, and in the evenings, the news with Walter Cronkite. I’d watch all kinds of shows. And I was the “remote”. My grandparents would ask me to change the channel and the volume.