When I was 12 years old, about 6 months after my dad died, my mother and aunt went to Texas to look for a new place to live…for my aunt. I was left at my grandmother’s with various cousins visiting throughout the 3 week period. My sister was 19 and away at college. I felt abandoned. There aren’t too many unpleasant childhood memories I hold on to, but this one just won’t leave.
Maybe it was my age. Moving into the teen years – feeling an awkward pre-teen. Maybe it was the fact that I just lost my dad. Should my mom have “left” me so soon after? Didn’t I need her to stay and give me that feeling of protection a mother should after such a traumatic event?
My grandmother was already heading toward senility. She said strange things at times. Embarrassed me in front of perfect strangers. Still, each day we walked to the local store, then to the park to feed the geese, and then back home again. It was our routine. Because she got up each day at 4:00 am. it was time to take a nap when we returned home from our walk. I loved her big bed. It reminded me of the Princess and the Pea. I felt like I had to get a ladder to get up in to that bed. We napped together.
Each morning I would head into the kitchen straight from bed. Why the kitchen, you ask? The floor was heated! It felt so good on my toes. We made breakfast together. I can still smell the pancakes and taste the muffins. We ate outside at the picnic table my grandpa made. I think he “made” the entire back yard where we sat. He was a farmer. He had a beautiful garden with huge willow trees. We lay on the hammock underneath.
My cousins came almost every day to visit.
My mom called every day. She hated Texas. She said she missed me and couldn’t wait to come home.
As I sit here and write this slice I realize that this “traumatic’ event wasn’t nearly as bad as I remember it. I think I’ve perpetuated it over the years and made it much worse than it actually was. My mind has extended the trip to 3 weeks. In reality it was only 5 days!
By dissecting those 5 days I see how loved and protected I was with my grandmother, in the house that my grandfather built, where my cousins came and went with their husbands and children, on the heated floor, eating warm muffins, outside in the hammock, in the Princess in the Pea bed.
I know now that my mom had to go to Texas. My aunt and uncle were divorcing. She had to leave town quickly. As an adult I know how hard it is to help one person while leaving the other on their own – even if temporarily.
It’s time to forgive my mom for this trip. She was doing what she had to do for her sister. She did the opposite of abandon me. She left me in the loving care of my grandmother and extended family. I was perfectly fine.