I’ll start this entry at roughly 5.
What kind of child am I? I love space, dinosaurs, tree frogs and lemon-raison cookies. I’m also shy and soft-spoken. I spend most of my time alone and have imaginary friends to keep me company. My brothers aren’t around much anymore, a couple of which barely live at home anyway. My favorite times are campfires out on our stone driveway. We live far enough out in the country that you can see the stars rather clearly. I’ve also grown fond of computers at this point. We had an old Commodore Vic 20 that we’d buy code books from the book store and my brothers and I would spend hours typing in code to play games with. I’ve also grown fond of animals at this point, mainly kittens and cats.
Aside from near-paralyzing shyness, I’m a somewhat normal kid, but feel different somehow. I apparently had started reading rather early and was reading at a very advanced level. I was reading the classics by 6 or so.
My grandfather lived next door on a two acre lot, nearly all grass with various types of trees lining the sides and back of the property. He was a railroad worker during his working life, but since retirement he smoked a couple of packs of cigarettes per day and spent his time tending to his lawn. Not just any lawn-care, but the type that would make golf courses jealous. Daily sessions of weeding by hand would be followed on random days with a lawn chair under an umbrella, a table with lemonade on ice and a shotgun within easy reach. He’d stalk groundhog holes waiting for any to show, then shoot them with quick and alarming accuracy for someone in his early 70’s.
My last memories of my grandfather were him deteriorating rapidly from lung cancer. He would get shingles, which I had no idea what that meant at the time, but basically, that was part of what eventually caused him to succumb to his illness.
My grandmother wasn’t my grandmother by blood. My paternal grandmother had died when my father was in his late teens and my grandfather remarried at some point and she’s the only grandmother I ever knew. She’d never remarry, but over the course of her remaining 15 years, she was always consistently kind to me. Looking back, my grandparents on my father’s side were the only adults whom had been consistently kind to me.
A week after my grandfather died my father’s employer went on strike. I remember my mother nagging him about something in the kitchen. Though he had never laid a hand on her in the past, he gripped her by her arms, pinned her against the wall and told her to leave him alone, then went off to the barn to brood. The next morning he left somewhere in his car and my mother came out to find me playing in the back lawn with my small suitcase used to go back and forth to Missouri and she told me to pack what was most important to me – things that I’d need; we were leaving. “He can pull that shit with you and the boys, but I’ll be damned if he pulls it with me. You’ll be the man of the house now.”
I packed my favorite overalls, pj’s and one of my favorite dinosaurs. That’s your life’s most important possessions at 5. At least for me they were.
I also recall that before all this had happened that I had been severely depressed. I had told my mother that I wanted to die a few times. She said not to think or talk like that; that I didn’t know what I was saying. We had farm animals. I knew exactly what death was, and I truly meant it. It wasn’t a child being dramatic. I’d also say frequently that I hated myself and would hit myself really hard in the chest or on my head.
That’s enough for today.