Forty-one years and a week ago I ended a visit at my grandparents’ farm when they took me home. To this day I remember walking up the front walk, into the front door. I remember a lot of brick and my parents seeming really a lot more enthusiastic to see me than seemed normal.* In fact, this is my earliest confirmable memory, and it probably sticks because of how out-of-the-ordinary it was. Up to that point and for many years after that point my life was largely a routine of reading, eating, voiding. Small children lead spectacularly uninteresting lives if they’re fortunate.
There were cashews in the cupboard. I don’t know if we brought them from the farm or if mom had them on hand as treat for my grandpa. But they weren’t a usual thing to have in the house and there was a lot of fuss over them . I remember my grandpa–a big man, former basketball star–holding me in his arms as he pulled the jar from the cupboard to grab a handful. It was a spectacular view for a two- and- a -half foot tall child.
My parents were very excited to show me my new table and chairs. My father had painted them a deep blue. There was a great fuss made over them as well. Look, Kathy! Aren’t they pretty?! Now you have your very own table where you can have a snack! I’m not sure if they gave me a snack. One would think they should have, and with as much as eating formed our family events one could assume they would have. I just don’t remember.
What I do remember is that eventually they got around to introducing me to my new baby brother. His name was David “just like your daddy”. Once I cleared up the fact that I called him “Davy” and NOT “daddy” (Come on…you can see how I had a point…) I don’t remember anything else that happened. From that point on, though, Davy was a part of my world.
I remember all of those things. The smell of the cashews, my grandfather’s impish smile as he snuck another handful. I can still feel the new paint on the table, the hard seat of the chair under my tiny little butt. I can smell my grandmother’s perfume, the baby powder, the breast milk. It’s all right there just as though it had all just happened.
The house is another family’s home and I don’t know what they keep in that high corner cupboard. My grandparents have now both gone home to heaven and my brother who was a soft and milky new baby is now an attorney with his own children in his own house.
I think the blue table and chairs are in my parents’ basement. At one point I was saving them for the babies I never had, but it’s been fifteen years since that was a topic addressed. Wherever they are they no longer fit. They are small and old and rickety and I am large and old and rickety. Time is a melancholy piece of music and I am by nature a fermata. Yet I know that I didn’t want to be two forever, or twenty, or even forty. Still and all it would be nice to see my grandfather sneak cashews again, to have my brother be someone I could show new things to again.
*Yes, I know I was only two and a few months. I have a good memory.