Thursday, January 25, 2007

Memories of Two Rats and One Horse

Although it is hard to be certain about chronology, my first memory as a child is from when I was five years old.

The memory is of a dream, in fact, a nightmare.

Two rats are standing at the foot of my bed.

The strangeness is that they are large, in fact human sized, standing on two legs. One of them wears a green shirt with a red vest and the other a red shirt with a green vest. The rats talk about me, talk about what to do with or to me.

I woke up screaming...

At the time I of the dream, we were living in Hobart on Connecticut Avenue. My dad, Robin, had purchased the house from his father Charles Edward. I learned years later that he had paid much less than market value for the house with the agreement that granddad could continue living in the house.

Either they forgot to tell Gerry-mum about the understanding or she did not grasp the consequence that she would have to take care of the old man to some unspecified degree. As Gerry-mum succinctly put it, she had not married Robin to be "your dad's nigger".

This incident was later forged into yet another of the many sharp edged weapons of hateful recrimination they used against one another in their ongoing fights over the next fourteen years until my father finally ran away and they were divorced after the summer of my first year at the university.

There are other memories that I should have access to and can deduce from other information. At times I can feel the raging loneliness of these memories, but the doors to them remain closed, bolted, locked and chained. Perhaps it is just as well.

A memory I have from Poosah City is a store window in which was displayed a small wooden horse painted in blue, pastel colors. I recall standing and looking at it whenever I passed by. For some reason it fascinated me.

Years later in Denmark, I learned that what I had seen was a "Dalar Horse" [Dalar hest], a bit of traditional folklore from the Dalerne, or Dales of Sweden. The horses are stylized, carved in wood and hand painted, the dominant color being either blue or red.

It happens that my grandfathers' second wife, Amanda, was from Sweden, perhaps from the Dales, spoke some Swedish and, if she had anything from her homeland, it would have been one of these lovely small horses.

When we moved into granddad's house, it was not the first time I had lived there. I had stayed there when my mother, Eunice, fell ill. Apparently I became attached to Amanda. Unfortunately she held to the hodgepodge beliefs of Mary Baker Eddy and, when she contracted a minor infection for which she refused medical treatment she, also died.

This was less than a year after my mother died.

All three of them are buried on a small plot in Hobart, Indiana, which I good fortune to visit for the first time in September, 2006.

Because of the war my dad was working long hours in the steel mills, so I stayed at Connecticut Ave., living with my widowed granddad for a while. He had had no idea whatsoever what to do with a little boy my age. I'm told that he tied a rope around my waist to keep me from wandering away.

My aunt Helen, put a stop to that as soon as she found out and took me to live with her. I stayed there about a year until dad married Gerry-mum not long after the war ended.

What is the significance of the rats? I have absolutely no idea!

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