This is the point of the story where I usually get frustrated in attempting to arrange the scattered memories and stories within the factual timeline of my early childhood that I stop writing. The early years was time in my life when my mother’s presence was the most consistent. And since for the first few years of my life I have no memory of any event, I am forced to rely on her for nearly all explanation. Considering the dramatic rendition of my birth, one can only assume that many of the other stories told to me may also contain some slight exaggerations. That is not to say that her account of these years was not somewhat accurate, and inspired by, if not fully rooted in the truth.
That having been said, according to my mother, she was living in her car in Pennsylvania when she went in to labor. She had been working for an assisted living group as a caretaker and planned to rent an apartment as soon as she had enough money saved.
She spent her time in the recovery room watching soap operas and waiting for my father to arrive. This soap opera ended up being the source for my first name, although I’ve never checked to see if that was even possible. Sometime throughout her stay in the hospital, she met with the Chaplin on staff. She told him her story and he offered to help. This one chance meeting opened up a whole new beginning for her.
It turns out that he was the pastor at a nearby church, which assisted in finding her and her newborn baby a new home. There were so many people who took us in and helped us out during the first years of my life.
She told everyone the poetic story of my father’s death and further explained that she had no savings and no place to live. The story being so tragic, she was never questioned. Instead, she became showered with resources! For two years we bounced around from family to family within the church, kind soul to kind soul.
I cannot express enough how detrimental these early relationships were in forming the person I am today. Regardless of how their contact with my mother ended, their love and support for me never did. I am beyond thankful for every single one of them.
From the facts that I have pieced together, I know confidently that the majority of her account is true and accurate for the most part.
The entire story about my father on the other hand is absolutely false. Except for the part about them meeting in a pub in or around Corning, NY. That part could be true.
Perhaps the most significant moment of my young life, although I was oblivious to it at the time, was when my Mother and I moved in with the people who later became my godparents. They met through the church and one day out of the blue we showed up on their door step. She told my godmother that we had no place to go and asked if we could live there. I think I was almost 2.
Eventually, they helped her to make arrangements to buy a VW beetle and rent an apartment. This was where we had my 2nd birthday party (not that I remember my 1st). We were buying the rugged old bug from the same lady who rented us the basement in her house. Mom started dating again and we seemed to be settled. I don’t know much about most of her boyfriends except for what my mother told me over the years and most of it was not good. The worst of her stories involved a raging temper and large amounts of alcohol.
It was with the one of them that I had my first taste of wine and the first time I got drunk actually. I am not sure who had the idea, but one of them decided to give me some wine to calm me down because I was being too hyper. I was only a few years old and apparently had too much energy. Unfortunately, it did not calm me down. It pumped me up. My mother began to worry and decided to take me to my godparents for help.
By the time our dusty old beetle pulled in to the familiar driveway, my eyes were bloodshot and I was beginning to sweat. She barely finished slowing down before her door flew open and she ran to my side of the car. Quickly, she pulled my sweaty body from the backseat. I tried to walk by myself, but she gave up on my lacking motor skills, scooped me up and walked down the cement path. She knocked with panicking repetition on the door until my godmother answered. Her eyes locked with mine immediately. In a very stern voice she asked, “What is going on?”
My mother mumbled, “Is it ok to give a child alcohol?”
My godmother paused for a moment and then, with a mild roar, she exclaimed, “Heavens no! Are you kidding? What were you thinking? How much did you give her? What did you give her?”
Defending herself, my mother yelled, “She was running around like crazy and we just thought a few sips would calm her down, mothers give it to their babies when they are teething?!”
“Yeah, a drop on the finger to cut the pain, not enough to make them drunk!” my godmother declared as she grabbed me from my mother’s arms.
She didn’t bother to inquire anymore, it was clear I had obviously had too much. My eyes were glazed over, my body was sweaty and I couldn’t make much sense of anything. She spent the rest of the night walking me around to keep me awake and coaxing me to drink as much water as possible.
The effects of the alcohol eventually wore off and things calmed down. Little did I know that chaotic events such as these would become something I would grow to consider normal for many years to come.