Retrospective 6: 1968 — Days without Rain

Snapshots of the early days in Switzerland.

  • I was three for most of 1968. Rachel had diarrhea and exczema and I spent an afternoon running from the bathroom to my mother, carrying clean cotton nappies, and then from my mother to the bathroom with the dirty ones. We couldn’t keep her clean. It was a game for me, helping with Rachel’s nappies. Leah was little and compliant that day and didn’t cry much, and the sun made a square on the floor of the living room. I passed through it over and over again, and marveled.
  • I found a stuffed toy fox in the dumpster underneath the apartments. I climbed into the dumpster and pulled the ragged creature out. Where was my mother? Perhaps I was older than three or four. Time was meaningless in those years. I have only snapshot memories of that time anyway, and they are jumbled up. Still, they were happy times. I took the fox home and Mum sewed it up and washed it and it became mine. I still have it, 40 years later, sitting in my room with my other stuffed animal, a bear, this one 60 years old, my mother’s own childhood toy. None of my sisters wanted him. His button eyes were gone, and his nose, and he had brown coffee stains on his worn yellow pelt, and he wasn’t new and shiny. But I love(d) him, and he and the fox share space on my bedside table.
  • I don’t remember rain in those days.

4 responses to “Retrospective 6: 1968 — Days without Rain

  1. (o)

    I am loving this retrospective. Bits and pieces like this seem so much more authentic than coherent narrative, which you always know is a back-formation, and probably a deformation, of the memories.

  2. I love that the fox and the bear are still with you! Still being loved.

    My early 1950s panda bear with legs that rattle is almost is almost as old as I am. My first panda bear was lost sometime before I was two years old. The story is that I was inconsolable. I am eternally grateful to my father for understanding and responding to my acute emotional distress by going out and finding a replacement panda bear for me. “Panda” meant EVERYTHING to me. From my perspective as a two year old, no one else gave me as much comfort. His original eyes are gone, replaced by brown button eyes that my mother sewed on with black thread when I was still very young.

    When I think of kind faces I have seen, Panda’s face is one of the kindest. Odd that I can clearly remember Panda’s face from my early childhood but not my parents’ faces.

    Thank you, tarakuanyin for reminding me of all this. Days without rain. Yes. That’s how it was.

  3. Dale: Bits and pieces is all I can remember, but some of those bits and pieces are so clear and consistent that I convince myself they must be “true”! At least for me, for the moment.

    am: Oh, Panda sounds lovely. Isn’t it funny what stays in our memories? I can see my best friend from Switzerland’s face so clearly, but can’t visualize my mum as well. I think it’s because my best friend is frozen in the past, as she was when I last saw her. But my mum changed over time, and all those different faces lie one on the other till she is just a big multiple-faced memory!

  4. I, too, would have seen the treasure in your mother’s bear.
    These are so wonderful to read!

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