“Bits ‘n Pieces of Me: Memoirs to retain identity in the face of growing dementia” — unpublished page 11:
Most of my growing-up years Dad worked nights at the Railroad then sat down to breakfast with us before sleeping a few hours and working on cars in the afternoon. When Julie and I were in kindergarten, the cars he worked on were at the gas station which he co-owned with Mom’s cousin Jack Cain.
In my memory “Jack-Cain” (like “Candy-Cane”) was fun and smiled a lot. He lived in an apartment building that was brown, and I was certain that he was in the brown apartments we could see on the way home from school.
Mom had recently decided we were “big girls” so she no longer walked us to school, or met us after school for our walk home. My sister Michelle was about three years old, and Spence was one, so she had plenty to do meeting their needs. One sunny Spring day I convinced Julie that we should hurry to visit Jack-Cain before walking home from kindergarten.
When we got to that apartment we could see it was not his home. However … there were some other brown buildings in sight and maybe one of those was it. None of them were his. This repeated until we realized that we didn’t know which direction to turn, in order to go home.
I reminded Julie that Mom and Dad said if we ever got lost we should stop, knock on a door and ask to use the telephone. Julie didn’t like some of these houses, so she picked a “nice” one, where we climbed the steps and knocked on the door. Our phone number and address were memorized as songs, so the people called home for us.
Mom was very surprised that we were two miles away instead of ready to walk in the door any minute. I gained a lot of confidence from this experience because we girls had the resources to meet our needs; we remembered the instructions, remembered the phone number, and avoided catastrophe despite getting lost.
Our parents were pleased that we remembered what to do, but they decided that even though we were “big girls”, we were not yet old enough to walk home without an escort.
(Written 2013-07/15 regarding Spring 1963)
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