When I became a mother I figured I would lose some of my freedom and maybe even some of my sleep. I didn’t know I would lose my once sharp memory.
There was a time I could remember things as insignificant as what someone was wearing on a particular day. Now I’m lucky if I can remember what my kids wore yesterday.
I could flip through my memory as if it was a photo album and recall what I wanted when I wanted to. Though those days are gone, there are a few memories that have remained crystal clear to me.
My friend Carol and I lived a few blocks from each other and were in the same afternoon kindergarten class. Carol was my ideal of what a girl should look and be like. Her long brown hair hung down to her waist, and she had the all-American face I wanted for myself. She always looked just right.
If Carol was a polished pearl, I was a diamond in the rough. I couldn’t stay clean if I was kept under glass. Unlike Carol, I couldn’t color in the lines, glue anything neatly, or cut a straight line to save my life. School never came easy for me, and kindergarten was no exception. It wouldn’t be until years later when my dyslexia was discovered that I knew why everything in school was a struggle. But even at the age of five, I knew something was wrong.
I never felt like a misfit when I was with Carol. She liked me for who I was. If someone smart and pretty like her liked me, how bad could I be?
One day in class, we were working on Valentine’s Day cards. I couldn’t figure out how to spell the word love and I asked her for help. With the skill and patience my teachers sometimes lacked, she taught me how to spell and write the word on my card. I never forgot how to spell it again.
There was another difference between us. Carol was Catholic, and I wasn’t. I got mad at the Catholic Church when the following year she started first grade at Catholic school. We were never classmates again, despite living a few blocks from each other. We rarely saw each other from then on.
I can’t remember if my mother used the word cancer when she told me Carol was sick, but I knew it was serious.
I can still see her that Halloween when she came trick-or-treating. Her beautiful long hair was gone, and she had a little granny cap on. But she was on my front stoop smiling and getting her candy like any other kid.
A few months later I went to her birthday party and brought her a Barbie doll. Since I ripped everything unceremoniously out of its package, I thought it was so odd that she wouldn’t take the plastic off the doll’s hair. Years later, I wondered if she was trying to protect the doll’s hair because she couldn’t protect her own.
I was home sick from school the day my mom got the call that Carol died. I was in the third grade and hadn’t seen her for at least a year, but I felt the loss. She must have been about nine. The same age my own daughter is now.
It’s strange to watch your own children reach the age you were when a significant event happened in your life. All at once you are confronted with your past, present and future.
Carol was in my life for such a short time, but the impression she made on me was very deep. Forty years later, I still remember her every time I spell the word love.
Kim from The Sheep's Nest says
Land of shimp says
Thank you for taking the time to write this, Kathy. Carol didn’t get a chance to grow up, have children, have her own memory soften.
We sometimes forget, growing older is a privilege and isn’t granted to all.
You did a wonderful job with this story, very moving. Wherever Carol is, I’m sure she’d be so pleased.
Kim, thank you! I was nervous about the post so it was great to wake up and read your post!
Land of Shrimp, Thank you so much for the kind words, you are right, growing older is a privilege. I am a fan of your writing, so it means so much to me.
The Nerd Mom says
Kathy, this made me cry! What a beautiful story to share with Valentine’s Day coming up.
I agree with you about our kids getting to the age when significant things happened to us. It’s surreal.
I’m sure Carol would be glad to know she had such an effect on you.
Thank you so much! I don’t think we ever really understand how much power each of us has to make a differnce in somebodys life, even in the smallest ways, such as teaching someone to spell love or writing an encouraging word on a blog! Thanks!
A diamond in the rough is still a diamond. Also, it is strange how we find out that some one we admired had to loose it all. As a teen ager I lost a dear friend who I always thought was “groovy.” Then I learned to be content with what I have rather than compare.
Amen! I think the more kids I have the more my brain gets sucked out of my head. Really thinking of getting some Aderall!
Thank you both for reading and posting I appreciate the support. Learning to be content with what I have is an ongoing lesson for me. Just when I think I have it down, I realize I have further to go!
Liz, I wish I could tell you the memory thing gets better, but when your new baby arives you will loose more brain cells than you knew you had, at least that was my experince! Thanks again!