Saturday, August 07, 2010

Your name is Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. Part 2.

I first realized that I was alive sometime in the very early 1970's; I simultaneously recognized that I was not alone. I had a baby sister, a little brother, another sister between my brother and me, and two older sisters. I remember having many tussles, scrapes and melees with them, as if we were the brood of a lower breed of creature. I am generally a peaceful kind of guy, but I strongly endorse the sort of mixing it up that my siblings and I had. It was good training in the art of combat, and it was a healthy release of emotion that might otherwise have remained pent-up, festered and turned one or all of us into drama queens or serial killers. (TV soap operas illustrate my point beautifully; if these people had spent more time butting heads when they were younger, they would not have the overdeveloped urge to backbite and back-stab, and there would be far less sociopathic behavior among them. This holds true for their counterparts in "reality.")

One of my older sisters, Annette, had complications during birth that left her with cerebral palsy. The doctors told my parents that she probably would not live a year, that she would never walk or talk or know love, and that she would only be a burden to them. I suspect they were trying to get my parents to let her die. My parents had deep religious convictions which compelled them to approach matters differently. They reasoned that Annette would be no more of a burden than any other baby; they resolved to take her home and make the rest of her days as pleasant as they possibly could.

I remember Annette's crib. It must have been 1950's vintage; it was enormous, heavy and very sturdy, much like the automobiles of that era, but it probably would not have met today's safety standards (as either a crib or a car). On the side that pulled down, there were metal rods with springs coiled around them at either end of the crib. I discovered that I could depress the springs one at a time, as my arms were too short to reach both at once, and they would "boing" to the top of the rod and rattle slowly back down. It was somewhat musical, fun and amusing. Annette loved it; she would laugh every time I would do it and would eagerly await the next one. I got really good at doing one and reaching over quickly and getting the other: "Boing! Boing! rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle..." I remember doing that for hours on end; it never got old.

One of my earliest chores or duties in those days was to go upstairs every morning and wake up Annette. On the morning of March 4, 1972, she would not wake up. I reported that to my mother, who hurried upstairs and a few seconds later wailed, "Terry!" I remember Mommy wandering around the house, cradling Annette in her arms, babbling and blubbering and crying inconsolably. Annette had died in her sleep.


Knight said...

Thousand was beautiful and touching.

Charlene said...

I don't think doctors are the best people to judge what a person should do in your parents' case with your sister. Thank you for sharing this story.

Palm Springs Savant said...

oh my gosh what a story, Corky.