Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CHILDHOOD (03/09/17)
TITLE: Children Again
By Leola Ogle
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A breeze stirred in the courtyard. Leaves whispered and birds sang. Laughter mingling with nature sounds transported me back to my childhood when keeping a beach ball airborne was a simple pleasure.
Where had time gone? Was my childhood that long ago?
I sighed as nostalgia swept over me with a poignant ache. Memories of simpler times played in my thoughts like scenes from a movie. Hopscotch, jacks, Red Rover, Mother May I, hide and seek, sandlot baseball, playing in water sprinklers, and swimming in irrigation ditches were just a few of the activities that filled my neighborhood summers.
We skated on sidewalks with metal skates that attached to our shoes. We adjusted them with a key made for that purpose. We used clothespins to attach a card to the spokes of our bicycle tires – clickety-clack, clickity-clack.
We laughed often and played hard. We shared treats and got into arguments. We danced to American Bandstand, and went to Saturday matinees at the theater. I watched Wayne Newton and his brother, Jerry, play guitars and sing during intermission at the Fox Theater. My brother and I waited outside afterwards for our parents, along with the young Newton boys.
If I would have known Wayne would be famous one day. I sighed and chuckled at the memory.
I was pulled from my thoughts as the ball sailed towards me again. I tapped it to outstretched hands. I brushed at tears, grateful for good parents and a wonderful childhood. We were poor, but I never knew it. Sorrow assailed me for the times I whined and begged for something my parents couldn’t afford – my blissful ignorance to our poverty.
A hand patted my shoulder, drawing me back. A voice whimpered, “They won’t let me play. Nobody hits the ball to me.”
Sadness squeezed my heart. “It’s okay, Mom. It’s getting hot. Let’s go inside where it’s cool.” I helped Mom navigate with her walker through the nursing home courtyard. Our roles were reversed. She was the child. Dementia robbed Mom of so many things. She remembered I was her daughter, but not my name. Her body was eighty-six, but her mind and actions were those of a child.
I waved at the other residents still bouncing the ball around. “We’re going inside,” I said. They nodded, waved, and smiled.
Once inside, a nurse said, “We’re sorry about last week.”
“It’s okay,” I replied. “Things happen.” But it wasn’t okay. I normally drove Mom to her cardiologist appointments. The previous week they had sent her to one on a medical transport. The doctor’s office called the nursing home to say Mom was crying hysterically. The nursing home called me. They had forgotten to inform me of the appointment.
It took me forty minutes to arrive. Mom was in a back room weeping. It took me several minutes to calm her. “Where were you? I was scared,” she blubbered. Then she whispered she’d wet herself.
The kind nurse took me to the employee restroom to change Mom. Then we were ushered into a room where a technician ran a check on Mom’s pacemaker. “Sit still, please,” Mom was told when she turned to say something to me. I pulled my chair closer and said, “You have to sit still.”
Mom patted my arm and told the technician, “She’s the mom now.”
The technician smiled sympathetically. I reached into Mom’s bag and pulled out her musical teddy bear. “You can keep it on your lap, but don’t squeeze it to make it sing, okay?”
We made it through the appointment. I stopped at McDonald’s afterward and bought Mom a strawberry milkshake. The nursing home was apologetic. They were good people who did a great job, so I didn’t complain.
Mom had occasional temper tantrums. She stole small items during craft times. She claimed one of the male residents was her boyfriend. I caught them holding hands – frequently. She asked me about siblings and other people who had died years ago. I didn’t tell her they had passed on.
As much as I loved my childhood, I pray I don’t go through another one. I want my mind to stay sharp.
My mother, my child, left for heaven in 2014.
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