One of the various things that mold us into the beings we are today is our Family. While many out there sever their family ties due to disagreements, falling outs, abuse, etc. I find that even this can be an addition to who we are inside. Think about it…look deeply into your memories of times past. What was your first memory? Was it good or bad? Who is sharing that moment with you?
I will share one of my first memories with you. It could be seen as good or bad. I choose to think of it as both. My first real memory was a time when I was three or four. Those menial details don’t stand out but what does is something I think that shaped my persona. My mother was moving us from California to New York where our family on her maternal side resided. She had packed our things early that morning, dressed me momentarily gaining my consciousness before I fell back into a dose. When she roused me later she had the suitcases by the door and a cab waiting outside. We rode this cab to the Amtrak station where we awaited our train. I had my favorite Barbie doll, she was naked as always smiling her plastic red tinted smile and her hair was the texture of a brillo pad since I never brushed it. We waited in the cold yellow light of morning, the train bristled its horn in the distance signaling its arrival. I looked up at my mothers face her expression sad and mournful. I looked to my siblings who stood off to my side their expressions blank, questions on their lips. The train stopped before us and we waited to board.
Back then I remember the gap between train and platform was much more menacing than it is now. My legs were not long; my feet would have dragged me into that perilous gap without the assistance of my mother. She held tight and lifted me when it was our turn to board and I cried out my fingers slipping on my precious Barbie. It was either her or me and as a child my fragile mind grasped onto that concept even though I knew my hand was sweaty and the doll would slip through.
I cried out, but my mother kept on going. We took to our seats even though I was screaming to high heaven that I dropped my precious Barbie. There was nothing we could do, she was under the train. We could not retrieve her. In my mind I knew this but at the same time I was only a child and I wanted to save her. I scream, yelled, kicked and cried but the train began to move anyways. The doors had shut, the conductor was checking tickets and still I wanted to save her.
As the gears shifted, the whistle blew and the train pressed forward I began to hear a snap, crackle and pop. I would have loved to dream of the notorious Rice cereal but that wasn’t the case. This was the horrid death of my precious Barbie as her body was ripped apart the pieces began to filter through the air like black snow flowing down around the window in front of my face. Pressing my face to the cold dusty window I cried as I watched her singed hair rain down. She was gone. I grasped that. I knew it in my heart, my mind, my soul. My Barbie had died.
I had sat back with a tear streaked face, my siblings were laughing and poking fun and yet none of that mattered. My mother shushed me with a big juicy glazed cinnamon bun from the snack cart. I ate silently as I wondered if my Barbie felt her cruel death. I wished I had dressed her, I wished I had combed her hair. I realized I would never comb her hair even if I wanted to now because she was dead.
It never mattered to me that my mother had left my father for the last and final time. I didn’t realize the complexity of why we were on that train. That we were leaving California for good, or that I might not see my dad for a while yet. I didn’t know that my siblings would be affected by the changes happening around us. I didn’t see the obvious, that my life was changing drastically and that this small innocent act of fate was preparing me for a lifetime of circumstances.
I do however know what I learned that day. I am a strong person. I am human, I feel, I love, I conquer. For the first time as a young child I experienced death. It may be insignificant to others, but it was real to me. Some may have imaginary friends, my oldest sister had Michael Jackson as an imaginary friend, and my youngest brother loved Dragon Ball Z and watched it emphatically for many years, even naming himself Yohan, a nick name close to the main characters in the show. That precious Barbie was my childhood friend, as close to my heart as a child could be. I loved her with a diligence that was unending.
This memory is so close to my heart because for the first time, I was aware of me. Not the outside of me that people see. Not the me that works hard day in and day out, Not the me that wears mascara or the me that braids my hair up to look pretty each day. But the me that cries when things go wrong, the me that will suck in a breath when a witty criticism is thrown my way. The me that has a mature level of understanding of myself and others.
On that morning my siblings teased me, laughed at me, and mocked me. It was the beginning of years of teasing over this memory, as time passed I laughed about it too. And I think going through such banter from them helped me in the long run. I learned to let bullies remarks slid off my shoulders over the years. I had built up a barrier of protection for myself that has helped me to this day.
My family ties are strong. I have learned so much from the people I share looks and blood with. We share holidays, woes, quality time as well as constructive criticisms. We laugh and banter, we cry and scream at each other. And I’ve come to believe that all the struggles we went through together prepared me for the outside world.
I may not have all the tools. They didn’t teach me how to budget a checkbook or my funds. They didn’t teach me all the basics of building a good solid relationship. But they did give me the tools to manage the muddy waters; Like a fight with a best friend, How to make something out of nothing, How to cope with a broken heart, and How to look stylish no matter your figure type. My brothers taught me how to be tough, how to fight without using violence. How to walk the walk, talk that talk and mean it all while doing it.
So when thinking back on that memory, what did you take away from it? How has it helped you now? What has it taught you about yourself?
This holiday I was very thankful for my family. We may not always agree on everything, may bicker and fight, but we love each other. I don’t know your situation; don’t know your background or the makeup of your family. But I will tell you this, its something I have learned and a philosophy I use for myself. Everyone is human; they will make or break you. They will always disappoint you at some point whether it is big or small, whether you can move on from it together or separately. But everyone deserves a chance at redemption, a chance to show their worth. Wouldn’t you want that for yourself? For you family? Your Children?
If it weren’t for the lessons we learned from the people we care about we wouldn’t be who we are today. They are the first teachers you will ever know in your life. They make mistakes and will continue to do so throughout their entire existence. It’s what they do after the mistake that counts. Do they pick themselves up and make better decisions or do they continue to make bad choices? And even if they do, who are we to fault them? We are all on our very own life paths, we don’t know where it is leading us. And something that you choose today may seem right and have a positive outcome, but whose to say it isn’t the biggest mistake you will have made on your journey? We can only hope to be the best person we can be with the hand of cards we have been dealt.
I leave you with two of my quotes that I try to live by everyday. I hope you have enjoyed this article and would love to hear your comments. Have a nice holiday and Happy New Year!
"Flaws are a part of the basic genetic makeup of a human being. We are neither perfect nor capable of being perfect. Subjecting any person to the test of perfection is morally wrong because all will fail. It’s with love, faith, and understanding that allows us to accept one another."
"Everyone needs a chance to be better than what they were perceived to be. Would you want anyone to rob you of yours?"