Time for School - Chapter 14
Time for School
Richard had asked about my life as a girl. I continued writing emails to him concerning my childhood.
"After World War II was over in 1945, mom thought my dad was coming home to stay. He stayed long enough to get her pregnant, then went to a school for veterans in Texas to learn "photo engraving". He was gone until I was in the second grade.
I do not know where any money came from for mother and I to live on, unless my grandparents had willed her some monies from insurance policies when they died. She inherited a lot of land, and I often wondered why she did not "do something" with it, to earn some much needed money. She always said she did not feel like it, and it was true that mother felt badly much of the time; she was depressed most of her life.
She had my brother, Jacob, in 1947, when I was six years and six months old. He was sick with lung problems including asthma. I was sick with tonsillitis and missed many days of the first grade.
The first grade teacher would send my assignments home which I did sitting in the middle of the bed. The rooms were cold during the winter months so I stayed under the covers and studied. I was a good student: I loved to read and write; math and geography were easy.
In the spring of 1947, we moved to Nashville, Tennessee, as dad had gotten a job there. We lived in an upstairs apartment. I remember helping mother to wash my brother's diapers in the bath tub as we had no washer or dryer.
After about three months, we moved into the downstairs apartment, which was much larger. I liked this more spacious place to live and soon found some children to play with in the neighborhood. I liked the school and enjoyed attending classes in Nashville for three years.
When I was eleven, we moved back to the old home-place which mother had inherited, so we always had a place to live. Mother, my younger brother, and I moved back to Savannah, but our dad took a job in Missouri. He sent about $100 in a money order each week for the three of us to live on, so we did not have much money for extras.
When I was in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades, my teachers read the classics to the students each day after lunch; there were no changing of classes during the 1950's and the teachers were excellent
When I was ten years old, I placed third in the 4-H public speaking contest, placed second at age eleven, and won top honors when I was twelve.
I stayed busy doing my school work, reading for fun, preparing for the various 4-H competitions, and helping mother with my new baby sister and my five year old brother. I was big sister and official baby sitter."
The emails were sent to Richard daily and he responded with questions and comments about my life as a girl. Finally, I said, "Ok, that's enough about me. Tell me about you".
Richard's email concerning himself was not very long as he had been a private person much of his life. I realized his personality had changed over the years, but I was happy to receive the following email.
"I had to feed the animals on our farm....every day, come rain or shine. I grew up in my brother's shadow. He was perfect (like my mother), his personality was such that he was liked by everyone. I can't remember him ever being in a scuffle except with me.
When he was killed in Asheville, the funeral was huge. People from Asheville, Knoxville all the way down to Atlanta came.
I think I was always falling short (being like my father), always in a fight, and growing up thinking I had to outshine everyone around me.
I found out early in life that I was above average in any sport that I attempted. You would not believe the hours and hours of practice, when no one was around, that went into "being pretty good".
I had a vivid imagination very young; from age twelve until I left home at nineteen, I entertained myself. Living out in the country does that.
When I was thirty-six as I was visiting my mother and telling her about some of the trials and challenges of work, she looked at me and said,"Why don't you just try to be average?" I looked at her and said, "Mother, I have never been average at anything my entire life."
She was trying to help in her own way. For as long as she lived, each year at the anniversary of my brother's death, she would mourn for weeks. I never really understood until my sons were older. I know none of this matters a bit now, but it was big to me.
I grew up never seeing any love in the home. I know now that they did the best that they knew how....survivors."
After reading these words, I cried for his lack of love. He had tried to find love and approval through sexual encounters over the years. I wanted to hold and comfort him but I could not.
So I did what I knew to do. I prayed for him.