I was a very, very late child who was the only child of parents who had given up all hope of having children. My father was in his fifties and my mother in her forties when I was born. I really did not get to know or understand my mother when I was small. She would have moods of depression, fits of anger for no apparent reason and sometimes that anger was directed toward me. I really do not remember much about her until I was around four-years-old.
I can remember my paternal grandmother who lived with us for a while, and that memory goes back to the age of two. Those are very fond memories and very special because she died when I was nine-years-old. She would be the one to take care of me when my parents would go out for the evening. She loved listening to Inner Sanctum Mysteries, which was a popular old-time radio program that aired from January 7, 1941 to October 5, 1952, created by producer Himan Brown. It always began with scary sounds that only an organ can make then the sound of a creaking door slowly opening. Every week, Inner Sanctum Mysteries told stories of ghosts, murderers and lunatics.
These radio programs were very scary for me since I was only two-years-old when she stayed with us. I know that because she bought me a little red rocking chair when I was two. She would sit in her rocking chair close to the big console radio, and I would push my little rocking chair as close as I could get to hers. Imagine a small child sitting in a large living room with only lamplight and shadows in every corner listening to this while her imagination takes over as she hears this radio show. My grandmother would reassure me often that it was just a story, and when it got too frightening, she would let me crawl up into her lap while I clung on tight with my eyes closed.
My early memories of my mother are quite different. I remember that I often hid in one of the closets until she was over one of her tirades. She would often threaten to leave and never come back. When she did this, she would go out the door and into the woods on the hill behind our house where I could not see her. I remember going in our back yard, calling out to her while I cried my eyes out.
I loved my mother and I wanted her to love me back. I guess she did, but I remember asking my father why, and he would tell me that she loved me, but that she had a nervous breakdown when I was born. He had been the one to care for me until I was about three years old. My father said he had hired someone to come in to take care of me while he worked, because the doctor said she might hurt me. He assured me that it was nothing I had done to cause it, and that she really loved me. I do not know what I would have done or what would have happened to me if it had not been for my father.
As I grew older, mother’s mental health seemed to improve, but there were times when she would still lose control of her temper. I was amazed at my father because he had the patience of an angel. He never lost his temper with her when she was out of control, but would stay very calm. I can remember once when she was on a tirade that he gently held her and talked softly to calm her down.