First memories, very first memories, fragile like a whistle in a wind. In the Paxton place I slept upstairs in a room above the folks’ bed, alone the first few years of my life. I remember my father disappearing down the steps after leaving me there crying.
But I was a difficult child, I was told, always into everything, never sitting still, or perhaps I was one-year-old and being weened, the age when Mom weened each one of us. My youngest brother wailed all night, sobbed pitifully. Stories were told about my older brother bawling about horseys while imitating one. Sobbing and neighing merging.
I was born before my dad returned from the service, but no memory indicates a fear of him at this young age. A longing, yes, but no fear. Perhaps that too became reshaped and submerged.
A storm, a possible tornado, something forced my father one night to ascend into the cubicle that was my bedroom. I feigned sleep when I heard him come up the stairs, and became limp and kept my eyes shut when he picked me up, and remained so as we descended, my body wrapped by my father’s arms. I remember bustle and hurried shouts from my mother as we left the front porch door and scurried around to the cellar. And I remember warmth, the smell of tobacco and the heady smell of the farm that emanated from his shirt.