Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Memories from Home

When I was a little girl we lived in a house that was my mortal enemy. The basement was always wet, wet as in several inches of standing water, when it rained. Due to the water in the basement, mold and mildew grew and could be seen in the bottom corners of the walls in almost every room of the house. I remember well my mom spending hour upon hour scrubbing those walls trying to remove all traces of the mold and mildew. All the while, I was a sickly kid. The doctor diagnosed me with asthma. I wheezed virtually all the time. I caught cold after cold. At the time I don’t think my parents ever connected the mold and mildew that permeated the house to be the trigger of my asthma. Of course, I also don’t think they thought that Dad’s pipe and cigar smoking were contributing either. When I look back, I marvel that I survived at all, and who knows, maybe if we hadn't moved to another drier house when I was seven maybe I wouldn't have.

Why do I bring this up here today? No reason. None at all other than it was something rolling around in my head, and I needed a place to put in on a shelf so I could make room for other thoughts.

Then again, perhaps I thought about this after having lived through a spectacular lightning show last night during the worst storm we’ve had in the year plus that we’ve lived here. It reminded me of storms when I was a little girl, living in that moldy house. It particularly reminded me of one particular storm where the lightning flashed across the sky over and over and the thunder rumbled and boomed and rattled the windows in the house. During that particular storm a tree fell. It was a very large tree (at least in my preschooler’s mind it was, but I do think it really was a pretty good sized tree). I don’t remember if it was struck by lightning or was just brought down by the power of the wind, but either way it was quite the spectacle afterwards. It was large enough that when it fell across the road in front of our house it spanned both lanes, making the road impassable until a crew came out and used chainsaws to cut into pieces for removal. Fortunately, we could still get out of our driveway if we’d needed to do so and could’ve headed left into town. We couldn’t have gone right towards my grandparent’s farm though. That was blocked. If I remember correctly the road stayed blocked all night, and when I awoke the next morning it was to the sound of chainsaws as they were clearing the road. I don’t remember if we lost power during this particular storm, but we often did so I wouldn’t be surprised if we had.

Childhood held many fears for me. I feared dying when I struggled to breathe during an asthma attack. I feared dying when we sat in the living room watching storms out of the big picture window. I feared bogey men and monsters when I was alone in the dark. I’ve come a long way since then, and I seldom fear dying anymore although bogey men still scare me a bit (hence my refusal to watch scary movies). Last night, during the storm, I could see in N the kind of fear that storms used to elicit from me. I hope that I comforted him better than my parents comforted me. I tried. I didn’t tell him he was being silly to be afraid. I told him I understood his fear, that I used to be afraid too. I told him I was there for him and always would be. I told him that as long as we did what we needed to do and what the authorities advised us to do then we would remain safe. When the tornado siren went off we huddled together in the closet in the center of the lowest level of the house with our battery powered radio and cordless phone. We ventured back out, none the worse for wear, when the tornado warning was over and then, because the weather still seemed a bit iffy, we both slept downstairs in the family room instead of upstairs in our beds. I hope that N looks back in the future and remembers feeling cared for and protected as a child. I wish I could look back on my childhood in that same way.


Bunny said...

You are a great mom.

We also lived in an evil house of death when I was a kid. Our house in North Carolina had an old air conditioning system from the 50s (about 20-25 years old when we lived in the house). That thing was full of mold. My sister and I had always had respiratory issues (both parents smoked) but that got much worse when moved into that house. Our doctor finally suggested that perhaps we were allergic to mold in our environment. Sure enough, when we moved to Michigan and a brand-new house, our problems got much, much better. I was 8 and my sister was 4. When I was 10 my parents stopped smoking in the house and I really got better. Amazing. (Now my stupid sister smokes - can you believe that?)

Val said...

You ARE a great mom, put down the flagellation devices & back away slowly ;-) !
Unfortunately you remind me a lot of this chick I see in the mirror sometimes - if things can't be 100% "perfect", HER way then it must by definition be going all to shit...

Trueself said...

Bunny - I think people in general didn't realize how they were impacting their families back then with the smoking and the mold and stuff.

Val - Perfect or awful sometimes there seems no in between. I gotta get better about that (as do you girlfriend!)