Early Memory's of a Child
I Remember When...
There I was, lying on an examination table in the emergency room at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, MN. My dad, holding onto me with feelings of helplessness and remorse all at once, was trying hard to ease my fears but I continued to cry out for my mommy. The room was cold, unfamiliar, and, with the exception of my daddy, full of people I didn’t know. I was scared out of my mind and there seemed to be no sign of my mommy anywhere. The light shining down on me was too hard to look at. I continued to turn my head and resist the doctor’s command to look up into the light. It was brighter than any white I’d ever seen before and large as a planet. I was only two years old.
I remember when it happened as if only minutes have past. Mommy, dressed in her nursing whites, pinned on her pointy hat and exchanged hellos and goodbye kisses with Daddy as they briefly met in the doorway. Mom was on her way to the hospital to start her shift and Dad was just coming home from his 8 hour day in the squad car. He soon retreated to his bed to read the paper and have a smoke. I waddled down the hallway as fast as a two year old can go without stumbling. Excited to see Daddy, I jumped up on the side of his bed startling him. He jumped, as anyone would, with natural reflexes. That’s when I felt a lit cigarette butt in my left eyeball. I screamed with terror from the sizzle and sting. Dad was beside himself. In no time flat, into his squad car we went followed by the piercing sound of it's siren whistling through the neighborhood as we drove swiftly to the emergency room. Mom had hardly had a chance to punch in before she was paged to the ER. Willmar was a smaller town back then. I think I was given preferential treatment as this was where my mom worked, and obviously at the time, I was a lovable little toddler.
Before too long, Dad took me back home and got me ready for bed. I was wearing footie pajamas and sported a fine gauze patch over my left eye. My brother and sister seemed happy to know I was going to be all right. They chased me around the dining room table, round and round we ran, laughing all the way. Dad cautiously watching me so I wouldn’t get hurt again. At the toddler age of innocence I remember plainly stating, “I can see better now.” There was no permanent damage from the traumatic event that took place, only strong memories of my very first trip to the ER. I can say without hesitation, it may not be my fondest, but it was my earliest memory ever.
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Coming In With A Bang!
Although I hold many memories in my mind of the days spent at 802 West 6th Street in Willmar Minnesota, I was born when Mom and Dad lived out on Highway 23 just on the West end of town. They bought a white rambler with black shingles; I was far too young when we moved away and I hold no memory of the inside of the house.
Mom had been through the birthing process twice before and didn’t see the need for too much excitement at first. She had the sense of labor pains beginning in the early hours of the morning. There had been a snowstorm the night before and the plows were in full swing of cleaning away all the snow accumulated in unwanted places. Mom had just acquired a new Whirlpool washing machine and wanted to make sure Dad knew how to use it if the need arose as she spent her week long vacation in the maternity ward.
“Winfield, come down here and I’ll show you how to use this new washing machine.” Dad recalls telling her,
" I won't have any trouble and to get in the car!"
They drove into town and Dad took his chances by turning onto a side street for quicker access to the hospital. The wind row of deep snow from the plow was a bit more than Mom was able to handle. Her water broke and the labor pains became fierce. Once in front of the hospital, Dad put her in a wheel chair and escorted her to the elevator and up to the maternity ward. He claims to have heard the sound of my infant cry before he managed to get back to the waiting room. The doctor never made it in time to administer the birth, I was delivered by the nurse. It makes me wonder if that has anything at all to do with my inability to be patient from time to time.... I wonder if I’ll leave this world as quickly as I arrived?
Life At The Lake
Mom and Dad somehow managed to scrape up enough money in the early ’60’s to buy a quiet little lake cabin on Nest Lake outside of Willmar. My memories are quite faint as I was still very young. I know it consisted of one main living area with a fireplace, and the beds were on the far side with the absence of walls to separate the space. There was no indoor plumbing and we had to use the out house to take care of business. I was petrified to go in there alone and always had Mom prop the door open for me while she stood inside close by to protect me from the skulls that adorned the walls of the little shack. Apparently the previous owners of the cabin collected the wood carved masks and hung them in the pit toilet to scare out the smell.
Although my memories are faint, I clearly recall lying outside on the picnic table one hot summer afternoon along with Mark and Renae. I remember well that I was in tears and I was positive my life was over at that point. Mom and Dad each performed minor surgery on our bodies to remove millions of leeches from the lake water we had been swimming in. "There's another one! AHH! Get it off of me!"
As traumatic as it was, Mom and Dad were able to save all three of us with no trouble at all. To this day, however, I'd rather swim in a chlorinated pool versus a natural lake, for obvious reasons of course.