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Weeps, wails, whimpers, howls and cries. When she moves it is with deliberation. Every motion takes each atom of effort.
She weeps for the unloved and unwanted. She wails for the starving and hungry. She cries out for the young soldiers fooled into service. She wails for the needless violent deaths.
She keens for the lonely and forgotten. She can not stop her continuous mourning.
Solemn specters of centuries.
Lamentations of mans inhumanity to man.
They say she wears WHITE.
Captures children with her sobs.
But I know she wears BLUE.
The only person ensnared is ME.
This is your UN-Birthday month...I have an urge to reminisce. I cannot help it. Blood of my Blood, Genes of my Genes... YOU are the STARDUST of A HUNDRED MILLION YEARS. From the moment of your inception..... I do know exactly where. You would rather not hear. I will keep it to myself. I was filled with joy at your arrival. I was brimming with determination to escort your arrival to this little planet. Secret number one. I was delighted with your cousins in the Keystone state. It was your cousin, the Golden Child who triggered my case of BABYFEVER.
When I think of wonderful memories of you I think of them as my BRIGHT SHINING MOMENTS. So whatever trials and disappointments we might have had along the way I have my BRIGHT SHINING MOMENTS to comfort me. I read a memoir once of a Korean Orphan Girl who only had wordless memories of her Mother because she was taken from her murdered mother at three, but she remembered her mother always saying
THERE ARE 10,000 SORROWS but for every sorrow
THERE ARE 10,000 JOYS. And so it was ever thus. Enough philosophy, on with my
Bright Shining Moments of you.
I suppose I should start at the beginning instead of hop-scotching around as my memory takes me. And it does take me on journeys everyday. I'm like Billy Pilgram ... I'm unstuck in time but I can only go backward ... I can't go forward....Okay so you've heard my version of the day you arrived from the 29th of December was the first day I took off during my pregnancy. I was on the phone with dad when I had my first real contraction 6ish in the evening. Everyone knew but me that you were on your way that night.
You've heard my story with sound effects, your voice saying, "Let me out, Let me out." I felt so big by that day. I weighed the same on my final day of pregnancy as I do now. The night was very cold. It was either snow or fog in the air. I was very hot because I had decided I needed a bath before I went...Teri had to park near the entrance right in front of a fire hydrant. Then the whole time we waited and pushed we both worried that she would get a ticket. I heard you wail.
There was the admission nurse who asked if you were planned. Contraction! I said, "NO-. She replied, "But wanted." I said "Yes-. Contraction! Contraction, Contraction, Contraction. Then there was the Giant Jamaican Nurse who threw you up in the air when I was engorged and you didn't want to nurse. She scared me to death and clearly startled you awake. She said, "You have to wake dem up. Dis the way you do dat." I made sure she was not around you anymore. When Gil arrived on the 31st after looking at you he said, "My specialty is bald babies.-
No, No, what the Jamaican Giantess of a Nurse said, "You have to do dis,"she said as she threw you high in the air. Your arms flailed, your eyes opened wide, "Dey Tink Dey Goonna Fall n dey wake uup!"She caught you midair. I jumped up as fast as a woman with an episiotomy can. Grabbed you back and made sure you were never anywhere near her. By that time I learned I could ask for you from the nursery anytime. You could nurse on demand. So that's what you did, nursed on demand til you had teeth.
I'll never forget the day you first plotted against me. You couldn't have been more than four. You had been fascinated with the "Amazing Stories"on TV. The one where the two brothers tortured their babysitters till a Jamaican babysitter arrived at the house. She warned the boys the "Doopies"would get them if they didn't behave.
We went to the movies. You weren't behaving. Even after several warnings. So I drug you out of the theatre during the movie. You were surprised but stubborn. On the way home you yelled,
"DOOPIES TAKE MY MOTHER!"and jump into the bushes!
I thought I could teach you Spanish. I tried. I got to you say Oso and Conejo although people often thought you were saying something else. I played Nat King Coles Spanish Album and Lola Beltran for you. But I guess you weren't to learn espanol. You told me, "BeeYAA, BEEYAA, BEEYAA"til I thought I'd go nutz. How was I suppose to know it was Michael Jackson's "BEAT IT-? I can still see Aunt Teri taking you to Madison Square Garden to present the picture you drew. The guards gave you a cap. The threeyear old you was thrilled.
The first place you went out to eat was Helens Chinese Restaurant on Main St & Jewel Ave. You were in your stroller. That's how little you were. They treated you like a King!
"WOM TOM Soup & Bones"that's all you ever wanted. And for dessert they would make a very big deal. Take you to the kitchen. Make you a fancy dessert of ice cream and jello with little umbrellas on it. I remember when you were ready for school they were shocked you couldn't really count change. After all their kids were making change all the time.
There was the first time at Angelo's Pizza on Main. You stood on the booth bench. You weren't really eating regular food yet so I just gave you a small taste of the cheese. You actually made the "Mummm"sound and indicated more. SO I gave you more. We repeated this several times until you started gagging. Of course I'm freaked. I thought I would have to perform the baby hymlic maneuver on you. But it turned out you had been chewing and not swallowing. You had a wad of cheese the size of a golf ball in your mouth.
Its funny how enamored you were of Michael Jackson. It might have been quite awhile longer for us to figure out "BEYA BEYA"and the "WHY WHY"song were Michael's if Teri had not got you the "Thriller"Album for your 3rd birthday. Boy did I get a lot of mileage out of that video, too. It was funny how you were afraid of it at first. Somehow telling you it was just a video didn't allay your fears. You looked so funny when we had you dressed as Michael the Monster for Halloween. Your idea but I indulged you.
Did I tell you that Teri and Hector drove you home with me on a very cold January morning from Lenox Hill Hospital? See your breath in the air kind of cold, cut it with a knife cold, but it was sunny. Dirty snow everywhere. I had a rocking chair. The apartment was
CLEAN for your arrival. Teri and Maria Antonia purchased a beautiful chest of drawers that could be used as a changing table. Mom and dad, the family were
waiting to see you. So at 10 days old you took your first flight.
Cleveland was VERY COLD, too.
We stayed in upstairs bedroom. The bedroom we three sisters slept in for years. Its cold and dark there in the winter but Lisa had found a bassinette. So your first ten days were in New York City then a month in Ohio. Lisa and I even drove you and Kyle on what became known as
The Grandmother triangle. Dad was still here on the planet as was Gramma Dorothy, Grammy, and Meta but Tappaw White was long gone and Tappy had passed away the winter before. Because Gil was at his funeral everyone made it including the Pennsylvania people.
Why was everyone at Tappy's Funeral? Because Gil was there to get John Roupe's car going again. Middle of winter, snow everywhere. The Roupes' drove from the hills of PA to Avon. Their car died. Gil and Bob fiddled with the carburetor. Gil impressed all the men when he siphoned gas from one car to another. He used a tube.
SUCK and SPIT.
Needless to say he didn't want to be at a funeral. He wanted to go to Acapulco instead. That had been the plan. He protested but Tappy's funeral I could not miss, Gil and Acapulco or no.
Oh I was talking about you. It was your Aunt Lisa that broke it to me that it was time for you to stop nursing at 18 months. After all you did have teeth and you were eating table food. But I had bought La Leche League Principles, HOOK, LINE, & SINKER. I was expressing milk at work and freezing the bags. I dunno if my male co-workers were grossed out or not. They never shared that. In fact just about everyone helped me in anyway they could. IT was a pleasant surprise. But you had to go COLD Turkey.
We went through so many firsts. I missed the first day you rolled over, because I had to return to work. I drove home with Teri I think. We were delayed in traffic. I was unbelievable anxious. When we arrived home I realized I had not made any provisions for your care if something happened to me. SO I went to the library to learn how to prepare a simple living will. Aunt Lisa was your first guardian, grandma second, Aunt Dana third. All chosen on their mental, physical, emotional and financial ability to raise you if I was GONE.
Choosing your Godparents was fun. The five White Kids did not have Godparents. Mom said it was because both she and dad were ONLY kids so no Aunts or Uncles.
Besides we were not Catholic.
But I got to choose Godparents for you. You were to be christened at the Avon Methodist Church. The minister said I could have as many God Parents as I wanted. I wanted both Lou and Teri. Lou cuz she was my best friend and Teri because she had been my birth coach. Lawry because he was Lou's other half and my movie buddy too.
Lou was in California at that time she was appointed Godmother. She was actually living in New Orleans when I was pregnant with you. I visited her then midsummer for a week. I remember HOT HUMID, little Victorian Homes, rain during the day. We went to a main hotel one evening where they had Mariachi Musicians. For our arrival perhaps? I think it was the Hotel were the ducks take the elevator from the lobby to the pool. But Lou was in California and didn't return to NYC til you were four or five. We visited her in Shaky Town.
We visited Lou and her sisters in California when you were two or three. I have pictures of you running after a BigREDBALL in a park to prove it. Remember it? Barb and Elaine were amazed that you could show them how to open and set up your stroller. We went swimming and had a backyard barbeque with Lou's friend Pam and Albert & her folks. I think I had already learned you weren't so crazy about swimming. A mild disappointment for moi. Pam's father collected license plates. He had a display of all 50 states plates in his garage.
Babies swimming were very popular when you were born. The movie "Blue Lagoon"had introduced the idea of swimming babies and I was going to have a swimming baby. After all, I loved swimming when I was a kid. And It's important that everyone know how to swim. So I signed us up for Mother and Baby swimming classes at the local YMCA. While all the other babies dived and swam you screamed and cried the entire time. No calming, coaxing , talking could convince you. This was a battle you won. Besides the pool was TOO TOO TOO COLD.
The Dinosaur Museum was your favourite Museum during our entire lifetime in the Big Apple. It amazed me at how happy it made you except for the first time we went into the Deep Sea Room. You were 3 maybe, and freaked at the giant whale hung from the ceiling. You got on all fours and tried to crawl out without the whale seeing you. I tried to comfort you but that dark room was just too scary. I used my tried and true diversion method. It worked and you lived to return another day. What was it that thrilled?
I am so so sorry for leaving you at the Amherst Library. I'm sure you think I did it on purpose but it was just one of those
VERY BAD DAYS.
The funny thing was I was convinced that you were in fact in the backseat of the car and only refusing to talk to me for punishment because I yelled at you. So I lectured and made empty threats all the way to the show repair man. Then I was frantic trying to think if you might have tried to jump from the car or if you were kidnapped.
The morning you were getting ready for school in Amherst and they were announcing the Presidency of Nelson Mandela and the end of Apartheid on Television with crowds of people dancing in the streets. You said, "Look mom, they are having a Party for that Man" You didn't know how right you were. You also were so mad at me one night in you little six year old voice you held a knife in the air and told me you would eat me like Jeffery Dulmer. I could not imagine what I could have done to make you so mad.
I remember one night when I came home from work in Cleveland. You had the TV on so loud. You would not answer my banging and shouts to open the door. I could not get in without breaking the pain of glass on the door. I banged, knocked and screamed ...NO REPLY. Were you doing this on purpose? Did something horrible happen? I ran to the Stanley's for a hammer. Ready to break the door but finally you heard me. Came to open the door. Red face, dazed look, and raging fever. Mothers no matter how inept always worry.
There was a little boy who wanted to please his mom so much he bought her a green glass ring for Christmas in Santa's Helpers Bazaar at Paul Klapper PS219. He was so proud of his choice. There was a twelve year old youth who went to the local Village Bookstore to ask the clerks' advice on a mystery novel for her birthday. There was a young man who used the babysitting dollars he ironed so carefully to buy her a giant vase of gorgeous peach roses. One who chooses her gifts so well must see her faults clearly too.
A fourth grade artist worked diligently on his drawing to be displayed on the wall with the works of all the other fourth grade artists. His work was not displayed but discreetly hidden til the arrival of his parent. She looked at the names on all the drawings. Where was his? Why wasn't it here? Teacher with serious face sits and silently opens a portfolio. There was an extremely well drawn open can of beer with the name neatly printed on the side. When I asked why? You said, "Teacher said to draw something you liked."I like chocolate, too!
Little blinking Christmas Tree Lights snaked in and out of your goggles and all around the elastic fastener. Bright fuchsia, yellow, blue, and green blinking bulbs in syncopation. This was around the time of movie "Back to the Future-. You and your cousins were always working on some kind of experiment or invention and the word "Flux Capacitor"was used a lot. What is a flux capacitor anyway? You were to plug them in and wear them while sleeping and they were suppose to stimulate extraordinary dreams. At least that's what your older cousin told you. Did it ever work?
I'm pleased you chose Cleo and I'm pleased you chose her name. She was you friend the feline who thought she was your dog or sometimes a tiger. That little tiny piece of fur who housed so many fleas...but we saved her. And she became your play pal. That little tiger with the thick eyeliner above her pink nose, who loved banana peels and marshmallows and slept near your head or on your head sometimes. You kept your part of the bargain and kept her sand clean and fed her diligently, at least til the teen years. Cleo loved you.
Remember the time I wanted us to see Garrison Keillor? You didn't. Were obnoxious til I couldn't stand it. You continued your teenage on slot til I demanded you get out of the car there in front of Acme Grocery. It didn't take me long to regain sanity but you were gone. I looked all thru Acme several times. Called the Crums. Called Mary. Finally 2 hours later had to admit to the cops what had happened. The male cop said, "Don't worry he just took you up on your offer. He'll turn up."Yep 15 miles down the road.
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