Monday, November 22, 2010

The Hearse, Frozen Goldfish & Twins

Today, November 22, is the birthday of THE TWINS. I remember their first day on earth. I've told the story before, but in honor of the fact that all my siblings are now online, I will repeat it just for them.

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. But I am now.

Posted originally for: A memory for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Childhood Memory.

The photograph is in the collection of little sister Biblio.


Blogger Andrea said...

What a great story! Happy Birthday to the twins!

November 22, 2010 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Brett Payne said...

Thanks fM, for another reminder of what an excellent writer you are. I aspire to write about my own childhood memories like this, one day.

November 22, 2010 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Thanks Andrea! My sister wrote this morning to say how sad she felt for herself, but being only three doesn't remember any of it. Good! Those dead goldfish were rather traumatic.

November 22, 2010 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Brett - Thank you, what a lovely thing to say. Having already seen your writing for Shades, I'd say you're already there.

November 22, 2010 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Mary K. McGraw said...

What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing.

November 22, 2010 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

You are most welcome! I love your resin necklaces. Beautiful.


November 22, 2010 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger my Heritage Happens said...

Twins? Awesome,(of course now!)great story! Love the part of the goldfish and the hearse!
(Mine are twin uncles...)

November 22, 2010 at 8:49 PM  

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