Free Writing Friday: Kellie Elmore: Abandoned

Little Fingers!

Little Fingers! (Photo credit: jmccauli)

Abandonment is like a second skin, it rolls up slowly on my arms like old-fashioned gloves, soft, sleek, black, elbow length. My teeth sink into the word “abandoned’ and “insecure” as if I was in the middle of eating a piece of double- layer chocolate cake. I not only taste but feel the delicious, sweet frosting rolling around my lips; it lives there, it feels at home. I was always a scared child, anxious, what was I picking that up that no one else was? I was always called “over-sensitive” by my mother but I fought hard, independently for everyone to hear my voice. When I was young my voice was low, I was always the good girl, after my father died, the dynamics all changed.

It was the first time my parents had been to a party; my mother borrowed a maternity outfit from her friend Ann. When they got to the party, six weeks before my due date my mother wasn’t feeling well. Her friend Claire made her sit down, she timed the contractions. “It couldn’t be, it’s too early” but sure enough, they called the doctor and he said he would meet them in the hospital. Claire drove my mother and my Uncle Teddy drove my father, I don’t know why, either does my mother, the last survivor of the four of them.

When I was born hours later my mother looked at me and said I looked “like a plucked chicken.” My father said to Teddy” How cute can you get?” Since I was born six weeks pre-mature and only weighed 4 lbs and 6 ounces I was not allowed to leave the hospital. I was in an incubator until I could reach 5 lbs. I was in the hospital for 4 weeks. Back in the 50’s they didn’t the knowledge they have now; I’m sure no one held me except the doctors and the nurses. There were no advanced techniques back then. Moms and Dads weren’t even allowed to enter the room much less caress their little one’s tiny hands. I knew my father had visited every day, after work, he knocked on the glass that separated us, and smiled. My mother’s story has changed a little over time, she had my older sister to contend with and she felt “there was nothing she could do.” I think the error in judgment was telling me the story. What purpose did it serve?

My parents traveled a lot when I was a teenager leaving me alone in the apartment building. I would cry when they left and cry when I saw them wait outside for their taxi but as soon as their taxi left, I felt fine and strong. Being left is not one of my favorite things; I’m better at leaving. Even now, when my children, age 18 and 20 leave for college, I still cry.

When I was a child, every night, I would ask my father questions “Will anyone go to the hospital?” “Will there be a fire?” and plenty more. I needed that nightly repetition of answers to feel safe. That lasted until I was in the third grade when my mom did have to go to the hospital for a small surgery. I was hysterical. I remember pounding the blankets with my fists and screaming “We can’t play the question game because one of the answers is yes!”

When my dad died, eleven years ago, my greatest fear came true, he left me, he left us all forever. I had a very tough time letting go, he and I were so close but I got through it, no one really has a choice and with the slow passage of time I healed very slowly and it took a long time.I grieved openly, never one to hide my feelings. My children were very young, 7 and 9, years later my son confessed he thought I would always be that way, crying endlessly and being sad. I felt terrible and guilty but there was no way that overwhelming grief could have been hidden. He also got to watch me heal and recover, a life lesson.

Life is all about leaving, my children will constantly leave as they grow up, even their first step, as toddlers grinning proudly, they show us they need to leave and it is our job as parents to encourage them. They will leave me or we will leave them. It’s life, and death, sadness and happiness, insecurity and hope. Abandonment feels so familiar, like a dress, perfectly fitted to my body. I know love, I know pain, but abandonment is not only familiar, it feels like my skin.

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Plinky Prompt: The Opening Sentence of My Autobiography

  • You’re writing your autobiography. What’s your opening sentence? See all answers
  • Intro of Your Life
  • Ravelympics: Premature baby hat
  • I was born six weeks premature; when the doctor delivered me, my mother said I looked like a “plucked chicken…..”

Carry on Tuesday: Once Upon A Time

Miss Haxby is holding a newborn baby that is i...

Miss Haxby is holding a newborn baby that is in an incubator at the Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto, Ont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1956 there was a child born six weeks premature, it was the first time the child’s mom had worn a borrowed maternity dress to a party. Doctors back then were strict about weight gain so she wasn’t really showing at all. After every appointment with her Obstetrician, she treated herself to a chocolate ice cream soda, a delicious, frosty treat that she looked forward to every two weeks.

Once at the party she wasn’t feeling well but had no idea she was in labor until her friend, Claire, suggested she sit in the chair and she timed the odd cramps, soon it was off to the hospital. Claire drove her to the hospital while Claire’s husband, Teddy drove her husband. Her husband hadn’t even tasted his favorite German potato salad yet, I’d imagine, he was a bit disappointed.

They arrived at the hospital and the mom was rushed into the delivery room, she hadn’t expected to be giving birth six weeks early. The labor was fast and soon, a 4 pound, 6 ounce tiny baby girl was born. The mother said she “looked like a plucked chicken.” Dad apparently said to “Uncle Teddy “how cute can you get.” Uncle Teddy told that part of the story every time he saw the little girl until he could no longer speak. It was “their” story.

It turned out that the dad visited the little girl in the hospital, on his way home from the subway every night. He looked through the window and tapped the glass, it was in the late 50’s and he couldn’t do much more than that but him telling her that he was there every night made her feel good. Mom’s story was that she never visited because “there was nothing she could do” a story she changed recently when speaking to the child’s older sister.  She hadn’t visited; why would she have told the ugly truth so many times before? Did she want to rewrite history? Maybe. All of a sudden she was feeding that baby, bottles every other day. The sister just wanted to help but the child knew her mother was lying. It was okay, it just seemed pointless. Why bother now? Maybe it was guilt or she wanted to right a wrong or maybe in her mind, she decided that she wanted to remember it that way. One’s history is really made up of interpretation from others and ourselves.

Once upon a time had happened already, the child had accepted the parameters of her relationships with both her parents, with her Uncle as well. You can’t rewrite history. You just have to accept it for what it was, like she had done, all those years ago and then slowly, quietly, tiptoe, on soft, gray, stocking feet, walk away.

Carry on Tuesday: “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

English: a little shy girl Русский: ЗАСТЕНЧИВА...

English: a little shy girl Русский: ЗАСТЕНЧИВАЯ ДЕВОЧКА (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She had always given up too easily. As long as she could remember, she chose not to fight but to deflate, like the air sizzling, slowly, out of a big brightly colored blue balloon. Why, she wondered now? Was it just her character or was she never able to feel safe and confident as a young girl even in her own home? It was hard to differentiate one from the other. Nature vs. Nurture?  Was it because she had  been six weeks premature and had to stay in the hospital for that long in a heated crib? She had always been a shy girl, an anxious one too.  Whose fault was that, she asked herself, in her older years. Surely it was not hers alone? Did her parents not think this was unusual enough to warrant some extra attention?

She didn’t like “playing board games”like Scrabble because there was no game that she thought she could do well in and she was easily embarrassed and ashamed. Had she dug right in, like others she knew and practiced feverishly, she could probably have been on top in at least one or two things but she never stayed long enough. It was a shame, she thought, later on in her life. No one had ever encouraged her to keep trying, it was almost as if they expected little so she gave them what they expected. She felt just like a tiny speck against a world made up of giant red rocks and icy mountain peaks, even large green valleys. She could disappear easily and no one would notice.

She tried to disappear one day when she was about thirteen or fourteen. Their family had a shared cabana at a beach club and one day she took off walking a very long distance and stayed away for hours. She wanted her family and friends to worry, to look for her, she wanted to be missed but when she eventually started walking back, and came “home” no one said a thing; they never even knew she was missing. She was upset, and mad that no one had even noticed.

She gave up all the time, but it didn’t seem like giving up when she was doing it, only years later, while looking back at her youth she figured out that she had been too scared, too fragile, too afraid to try new things. She gave up before she could fail; that was a very lonely and limiting life. She pushed boyfriends away before they became too close. She knew they weren’t serious, so she ended the relationship, knowing it would never be more than what they had then. She regretted that only once in her life but she didn’t have the emotional capacity, at the time, to communicate well.

Looking back forty years, she could see when her life had come to an emotional halt. It’s as if the brakes were firmly pushed and there she stood, alone and apart from most of her friends. Her husband still teased her about playing with Barbie dolls at fourteen with her friend, Linda. She was definitely a “late bloomer,”  her comfort companions were stuffed animals that surrounded her bed for many years. Even now, one or two are tucked under her pillow.

Now, as an older person, she sees the world in a different way. While physically she cannot run anymore, her mind jogs like the wind, as fast as possible. She is no longer shy and introverted but strong in her opinions and in her intuitive feelings. When she walks now, she walks with a brightly, colorful cane to help her balance issues but that does not stop her from walking, it fuels her with confidence, a confidence she never before had. Lastly, if she doesn’t like the sound of something she has written or a photograph she has taken, she will take another and another and not give up, until she knows, in her heart that it is exceptional and only she has to love it for it to be magnificent and divine.

A Love Letter To My Dog

 

Bernese Mountain Dog, puppy, 7 weeks old

Image via Wikipedia

 

Dear Callie,

I adopted you from the Briarcliff ASPCA  animal shelter 8 years ago. When I arrived,” just to look”, the manager of the shelter was cuddling two tiny puppies, one on each side of her cheeks. She told me that they never got puppies but you and your sister had just been returned by a man who adopted you at 5 weeks old. He returned after a week to drop you and your sister off because “you were too much trouble.” What did he expect from two 5 week old puppies? You and your sisters and brothers were rejected by your mother who was very tired after having given birth a few years in a row and she would not nurse you. I’m sure in my own psychological, baby heart I related to you, having been born 6 weeks prematurely and in the Neonatal department of the hospital for 5 weeks, away from my own mother. I wanted to save you, to save myself.

You and your sister,  tiny,  black with white and tan spots were handed to me as I sat myself down on the cold, gray concrete floor. You fit into the palm of one hand. One of you ran around, eating electrical wires and trying to escape; the other one walked more tentatively and curled up in  the center of my lap. It was love at first sight. I admit, the other dog was more confident and feisty and she probably would have had fun riding in the car, unlike you.  But, we all know that I’m a softie and when the tiny fluff ball that was you crawled in my lap and sighed with contentment, I did too. We were made for each other, Cal.

When the kids came home from school, in 3rd and 4th grade, you were so tiny that they first thought you were a hamster. For the first week or two I slept downstairs with you on the sofa bed and I treated you as if you were a newborn baby. When you cried I held you, when you whimpered I soothed you and I put a stuffed animal in your crate and the sound of a ticking clock to simulate a heartbeat. You were never a dog that needed to be walked continously you preferred to be at home, safe in our tiny house that was always filled with warmth and lots of love.

You are a natural-born charmer.When we eat dinner you stay near me and you rest your soft, silky neck right on my knee. Oh, you’re a spoiled dog, but you don’t whine or beg, you just look at me tenderly, licking your lips, knowing I will surrender eventually. Who can resist your warm brown dog eyes, the way your fur is outlined  so it looks like you are wearing permanent eye liner. I covet your really long eye lashes that dip and curl.  You eat everything, and you especially love Lorna Doone‘s, spaghetti sauce and blueberries. You’re not a fan of broccoli or pretty much any vegetable that’s not covered in cheese sauce. But, I admit, you eat more things than my two teenage children combined.

I love you, Callie. You are so important to our family; you always have been. The kids used to lie on their stomachs with one arm around you and talk. My son would confide in you when he was furious, my daughter still whispers her secrets in your silky ears. I never knew the meaning of unconditional love before you joined our family. Your fur has white and gray in it now, and you jump more tentatively but that’s alright. We will love you as long as you are with us and long afterwards too.