Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Hearse, Frozen Goldfish & Twins

A memory for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Childhood Memory.

We had only been at my Grandmother's house an hour when the hearse came and took my Mother away. The hearse did double duty as the town ambulance. I was only five, but I knew there was something ominous about a hearse. My Mother with her overnight bag climbed into the front seat next to the driver and they left. They left in a hurry.

It was November and one of the coldest winters in Missouri. My Mother was pregnant and the baby was due any day. This would be her third child, so when the snow storm hit she called our neighbor, Mrs. Mary's husband. He arrived with his tractor and dug us out. The drifts had covered the front door.

I remember standing there next to my Grandmother crying for my Mother, thinking I would never see her again. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized my Mother had been in labor when she called the neighbor. Snowed in, two small children and in labor; yet she remained so calm.

Grandmother was not very demonstrative. She was not affectionate. She seemed at a loss to comfort the two little girls holding tightly to her apron and crying.

That night my sister and I slept in the front bedroom just off the parlor. Neither room had heat, the stove being in the back bedroom just off the kitchen, quite some distance from where we were to sleep. My grandmother piled her handmade quilts on us for warmth. To this day I do not remember ever being that cold. No goodnight kiss, no father. I was frightened. "Watch the goldfish," my grandmother said as she pointed to the fishbowl on the table next to our bed. She turned out the lights. My little sister cried herself to sleep. Nothing I did comforted her.

I woke the next morning to the sound of my Father's excited voice. I sat up and looked around. The fish bowl was frozen solid, the goldfish caught in mid-swim. I could see my breath and remember well how cold it was as my bare feet touched the floor.

I ran to my Father leaving my sister under the pile of quilts. He was sitting at the kitchen table eating biscuits with honey and drinking coffee. My Grandmother, looking very pleased, was waiting on him and treating him like a child. It was so difficult at five to understand the relationship between my Father and my Grandmother; to realize that he was her child.

He lifted me to his lap and hugged me. I was so glad to see him. "Well Sis, guess what," he asked as he tickled me. "Do you have a new baby brother? No, you have two new baby brothers."

Twins had not been expected and were not discovered until the delivery. This revelation was the reason for the pleased look on my Grandmother's face and the excitement in my Father's voice.

I, on the other hand, was not pleased in the least. Not then, and not for many years to come.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the first sentence you drew me in. That's quite a memory, it choked me up and then I enjoyed a chuckle.

October 4, 2009 at 5:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the way you told this story! Twin brothers? Ugh - just what every girl wants - LOL

October 4, 2009 at 5:30 AM  
Blogger Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I can't imagine ever being that cold! My family was not very demonstrative but if hugs would warm us they were given.

October 4, 2009 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Nikki - Notes of Life said...

Brilliantly written :)

Poor goldfish! :D

October 4, 2009 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Greta Koehl said...

Great story, and one of those stories that a child who has experienced it has to grow up to appreciate. Frozen goldfish and twin brothers - it must have seemed like the end of the world.

October 4, 2009 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Renate Yarborough Sanders said...

Sounds like there should be a "to be continued" to this story! Enjoyed it! :)

October 6, 2009 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Polly F. Kimmitt said...

Well written and poignant!

October 7, 2009 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Doyle said...

fM - I missed this one – so glad that Apple included it in her roundup! I'll be adding it to the CGSL eNews "Links From the Blogosphere" this week. Great writing, as always.

October 24, 2009 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous tipper said...

A wonderfully written memory-I really enjoyed it!

October 24, 2009 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Peggie Trei said...

Great true story wonderfully told.
Peggie Trei

October 31, 2009 at 5:27 PM  

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