I’m not sure how long my mother and I lived with Aunt Brenny and Uncle Marril, but I do know that soon after my cousin Marco dragged me down the street on my belly my mother and I moved again. (And I’m pretty sure the belly dragging had nothing to do with it. The kids in the neighborhood would take turns using their bikes to pull each other on their skateboards. It looked like so much fun that I begged and begged to have a turn and Marco let me. He was very clear in his instructions to HOLD ON and NOT LET GO, and wanting to please him that was exactly what I did. Even after the skateboard slid out from beneath my belly and I got dragged a good 10 feet on a gravelly street. Good times!) This time we moved in with my mother’s brother and his wife.
I liked it there. The sheets were clean and crisp and the entire house smelled good. Aunt Winnie made really good dinners and fun deserts out of pear halves and licorice and miniature marshmallows designed to look like a mouse. Uncle Garry ws funny, and he didn’t spank me like Uncle Marril had done until I’d wised up and started peeing on him. I was the only child so I didn’t have to share the attention or my mother. I’m not sure what my uncle did, but my aunt spent a lot of time coloring with me, and my mother spent a lot of time crying and holding me on her lap and brushing my hair.
I think we’d been there about 2 weeks when I was sent to the neighbors to play for the afternoon while my mother and my aunt and uncle went to “A Very Important Meeting.” I remember standing in the Simpson’s driveway and waving as their blue Mercury stopped at the corner and took a left. My mother waved back at my through the rear window. I knew something was happening, but I wasn’t sure what.
That night my mother gave me a bath with bubbles and after that she gave me a present – a new pair of pajamas. Not hand me downs, not garage sale finds, but NEW, soft, light yellow pajamas. I was thrilled and so very very proud and showed them off to my aunt and uncle in that special way that 4 year olds do – complete with preening. My mother held me on her lap and brushed my hair, then braided it and tied a set of thick yarn ribbons to the ends. This wasn’t unusual. Every night that she was home to put me to bed this was what she did. That night she tucked me in, kissed me, and turned off the light and I cuddled with Peaches and a stuffed rabbit that took up half the bed – a gift from my aunt and uncle- and soon drifted off.
When I woke up the next morning my mother wasn’t in bed next to me so like I did every morning I went searching for her. Finally I ended up in the kitchen with my aunt. I wanted to know what time we’d go to pick up my mother from her job. I’m sure my aunt broke the news to me as gently as she could, and I’m sure it must have been difficult for her, fielding my questions and trying to make me understand that my mommy still loved me very much, but she had gone away and left me with them. They were my parents now.
It didn’t make sense to me. She had always said that as long as we had each other we’d be fine, and now I didn’t have her. I didn’t understand why she would leave me. I begged my aunt to take me to her so I could apologize for being naughty. I thought it was something I’d done. I swore that if she just got in the car and drove me to New York that I would make it all up to my mom and she’d take me back. She would be lonely without me. I know it had to be difficult for my aunt, I know I must have broken her heart a thousand times that day, but I didn’t want a new mommy. I already had a mommy, and the thought of having a daddy was too much for me. I’d never had one. I didn’t need one. I wasn’t even sure what daddies did. My mother had been my world, and in my four year old eyes, my world had just ended.
I believed deep inside that my mother would return for me, but as it turned out, for reasons adults thought best, I didn’t see or talk to my mother again until I was 9 years old. And don’t worry, next Tuesday’s Tuesday Tales is a happy one.