My Earliest Memory

My earliest memory is of crawling. Just me on my hands and knees, on what could only have been linoleum (get up close and personal with linoleum, you’ll know what I mean). It’s kind of like in the movies with that tunnel vision lens-thing going on. I can see the world from the height of a crawling infant; the same view, I suppose, is shared by cats and small dogs. But I digress.

While I know now there had to be a world more than a foot above my head, in my memory, I have no concept of this. There is just the world I see, the coldness of the floor, the voices, and my intent.

The voices must have been those of my parents, although too young to understand words, oddly, I can remember that I could assign meaning to the sounds. Yeah, I know that sounds pretty new-age-y, woo-woo. But in one’s memory, assessments like that are immaterial. After all, in your mind, you are there

I am a baby. Again, I can’t talk yet, let alone understand what is being said. But I know my mom’s voice, of course, and the other voice is new and different. It is a man’s voice, and although I won’t get the whole male/female, Mars/Venus business at least until I can, you know, feed myself, tie my shoes and maybe even whistle, I know there is something very different here. I don’t understand people’s energy yet (obviously), but somehow, I know in my baby heart that the energy has changed in our house.

This new voice — it has legs. They are all I can see from my vantage point, but I know the legs belong to the new voice. So, I crawl beneath the voice, between ankles and feet, until I come out the other side. And even at that young age, I meant to be cute and was delighted when I heard laughter…which told me it had worked. They laughed; I kept crawling and, I guess I thought this would all be good — this thing with the new voice — laughing along with my mom, and all. 

I asked my mother, years later, about this recollection I’d had over and over; it was so real I didn’t believe it was a dream.

She remembered it, too; I had been a year old, and I was, indeed, crawling beneath my father’s stance. We had been in the kitchen of our tiny home. It was the home my mom, my three older siblings and I had lived in for the past months. I still don’t know how she kept a roof over our heads, although I’m sure our grandma and aunts helped make sure we ate. But at the end of the day, it had all been on Mama. And that was because from the time I was a week old, my dad, the guy with the legs, was in prison.

Mom told me that she was sure my earliest memory was of the day he came home.

6 Replies to “My Earliest Memory”

  1. Wow! Your father’s return from prison must have had a profound emotional impact on you for such a memory to repeat itself so often that you kept it alive until you could ask your mother about it. I can’t remember anything until I was at least 2 years old. I know memories repeat like that when the situation appears to us to be very extraordinary. While standing alone on a pier, at age 4, hysterically afraid of water and unable to swim, I fell into a lake. Contrary to expected reactions, I remained extremely calm. With my eyes open, I could see a ladder above me, and I thought, “I have to get up to that ladder so I can get out of the water or I will drown.” And strangely enough, I do not remember anything beyond that, but obviously I made it to the ladder. Years later when I discussed this event with my mother, she said that on that day, I had told her that I had fallen into the lake, but because of my horrific fear of water and complete calm in conveying the experience, she assumed I was just making up the story. Because I know how intense your experience must have been, I hunger for more information on this ‘guy with the legs’. Looking forward to your next blog.

    1. Wow. It’s remarkable how the mind works! I think that we grossly underestimate the intellect and abilities of children. Thank you for sharing this story! And thanks for signing up for the blog. Lots more stories to come in no particular order! I appreciate your time and your thoughts.

  2. Hello, sweet cousin!! I can’t believe you remembered that as a one-year old!! I also have many memories of that laughing man with the legs. He wasn’t around much in those early days and I remember your beautiful Mama doing everything she could to keep you all in a warm little house with food on the table. Even as a little kid myself, I remember how easy and comfortable the overall atmosphere in your house was when laughing legs wasn’t there. I also remember my mama loading us all in the car and driving a few hours away somewhere to visit your dad in whatever prison he was in at the time. Your memory bank is better than mine by a year. My earliest memory was when I was 22 months old. I remember seeing my mom and dad coming in the front door with my new little sister. I was not a happy camper !! 🙂 Can’t wait to see what’s next and hope you don’t mind me throwing in my take on our wonderful, wacky family. Love you like crazy !!!!

  3. Isn’t that interesting! My father was in prison during my very young years; the first time I remember seeing him, was when I was 4 years old, and it was Xmas; he was at our house (my mom and me, and the house was the same house she and I had been born in and had belonged to my great grandmother), and we 3 were waiting for Santa Claus; at least, that was what I thought, and I wanted to wait up with them. Of course, Santa wouldn’t come while I was awake, and I can remember him rocking me, talking with me, etc. I haven’t thought of this for years. Thank you, Tammy, for helping me recall all this.

  4. I’m so glad this triggered a good memory for you, Suzanne. As you’ll see in blogs to come…not all good (although hopefully interesting)! Sometimes I think of our memories like honeycombs…so many different compartments, many of them are socked in till something triggers the stuff to come out. Not all sweet honey, but its all better out than in!! Thanks for your thoughts and hope to see you here some more!

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