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Memories of My Mother

I’m standing next to a tall refrigerator, looking up.  I know that it contains all manner of good things.  Great tasting food and nice, cooled well water.

I go over in my mind the two tastes that stand out as my best ever!  The first is Powdered Sugar Icing.  Each of my two birthdays have had cakes covered with the stuff, and I remember the first time that its goodness is placed into my mouth via my mother’s finger.  It’s sweetness takes my breath away, and the texture has that crustiness on the outside, formed when the fluffy concoction meets air, and upon my young tongue, it dissolves into a smooth, honeyed caress.

The other wonderful taste is of this thing “banana sandwich”.  I reminisce, remembering the one fed to me while I sat upon my mother’s knee.  I am so tiny that she holds it together for me while I take bite after delicious bite.  As I grow older, I will decipher that the sandwich bread is white, the banana cut into rounds that are held on with a sweet mayonnaise.  As a toddler, it is all a mysterious bit of wonder, these pleasing assaults upon my maturing taste buds.

My two year old self stands staring at this stubbornly closed box before me that also contains the mysteries “apple juice” and “sweet iced tea”.  I’m quite thirsty and I know that opening this thing will produce, like magic, any number of thirst-quenchers – but I don’t know how to open it because I’m too small.  It’s a puzzle.  So, I’m standing, staring, trying to figure out how to go about getting what I need.

My main supplier of good things for drinking and eating is my mother.  There’s something wrong though, because she’s either not around, or hasn’t heard my requests.

My contemplation is interrupted as my mother appears at my side.  She is shuffling a bit and, though she sees me, it is as if she is looking past me and not at me.  My mother moves me aside, slides me, but in the manner that one moves an object.  She has this blank stare, and a strange feeling washes through my small body as my I realize that she’s not registering the fact that I’m here.  Not really.  She steps past me and opens the fridge, reaches in and takes something out, turns and shuffles away.  I watch as she exits the kitchen.

She doesn’t return.  My gaze returns to the refrigerator.  I’m still thirsty.

Posted in My Inheritance.

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4 Responses

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  1. Yvonne says

    It sounds as if your mom was a severely depressed woman. That is not a judgment since she definitely had reason to be. But the “numbness” and the lack of awareness of her surroundings indicate to me she was suffering a great deal from depression.

  2. Deneen Ansley says

    Yvonne – yes, she was! She did have reason and my next post is going to give more details about that. Depression is not something that people should feel shame about, and I think that being brought up in an extended family where depression was commonplace and talked about was actually very good for me. It has helped me a great deal in being able to deal with my own depressions and accept them as a transient thing. This understanding of the sign and symptoms of these melancholy moods has also allowed me to spot them in others and to even occasionally do something to help.

  3. Julie Carriker says

    This is a very vivid memory from such an early age. I certainly can’t remember anything from that young with such detail! You must have REALLY been thirsty! 🙂

    Your detailed description makes me feel like I’m right there with you, excellent job!

    On a more serious note, was this the first time you noticed such a distance in your mother? As a depression sufferer myself, as well as the child of one, I know how difficult it is for EVERYONE involved.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Deneen Ansley says

    Julie – This is one of my earliest memories and it didn’t come to me until I was about twenty-six or so I think the memories that we get to keep from childhood are hit-and-miss because our young brains are still developing the storage units. The reason that this particular event recorded, I suspect, is that this WAS the first time that I’d noticed this in my mother. I’m not sure that it had ever happened before, but my gut tells me that it hadn’t.

    Depression, or any mental illness, is hard on the entire family unit. My children have had their own struggles in dealing with mine. Oh course, there will be more of that story as things progress with my telling!

    I thank you for your encouragement and kind words!

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