From the Heart of a Child

Sometimes, when I was very small, maybe five or six years old, my mother would buy a small bottle of Jergens hand lotion and leave it for me just inside the door to my bedroom. The lotion smelled like almonds and my mother.

I don’t know why she would do this small thing. She was like that. When I was a bit older, she would leave a copy of Highlights and a bag of red licorice on my bed after she’d gone grocery shopping. I never expected these things nor asked for them. It felt like a fairy had left the gifts and that is how I often thought of my mother – a fairy in my life.

The lotion on my little hands was a comfort, especially so the summer my big sister was quarantined in her bedroom on the second floor of our house. It was the summer when the polio epidemic hit our small town in Michigan. My sister’s best friend died and my sister showed signs of having caught it. The paralysis, however, was short-lived and confined to her shoulder.

Only my parents and the doctor when he came went upstairs. My older brother and I always stayed downstairs. I don’t remember much about that summer except we couldn’t go on the bus to go swimming at the lake because there was much talk that kids could catch polio by swimming. Otherwise, life went on. My father worked long hours at Sears and then, several nights a week, packed up his trumpet and went to play with at dance halls out in the country. Polio didn’t keep him home. Maybe that was why I was never scared.

I remember spending long hours on my swing in the backyard. It was a swing my dad made with a solid, wood seat and rough, hemp rope that scratched my hands but would never, could never give way. I could swing very high on the swing even being a little girl. My swing tree was a tall one with branches that shaded our house.

At night, after dinner, my parents would sit at the Formica table in the kitchen. I could hear their murmuring from my room which was just around the corner. I never knew what they were saying. I only knew they were taking care of everything and I didn’t need to worry. Everything about my life was in my parents’ hands and I was glad for that. I remember this from the heart of a child and miss feeling that safe.


WordPress Discover Prompt #6: Hands

4 Comments on “From the Heart of a Child

  1. Every once in awhile I buy a bottle of Jergens for the scent – so many memories. When I was 17 I spent the summer away from home working and when I got back my mother had uncharacteristically bought some gifts for me – a radio alarm clock, a tiny doll, a new bedspread. The radio part of the clock still works and the doll shows up in my hoarding piles and I love remembering that my mother did that for me that summer. Thanks for taking us down memory lane when this crisis keeps up so much in the moment.

  2. Polio is spread fecal-orally so I suppose you could catch it swimming.

    This piece is sweet and invokes the child’s feeling so well.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: