A Childhood Memory

childhoodLast month I attended the Writers League of Texas annual writer’s retreat in
Alpine, Texas. This was the third year in a row I have participated, and it is
fast becoming a tradition both my husband and I look forward to.

I attended the memoir class taught by Donna Johnson and Christine Wicker. This
class dug up a lot of my past, some sweet, some not-so-much. If you want to get
in touch with yourself, try a memoir-writing clinic. Be prepared, though.
There’s no such thing as free therapy, as the old saying almost goes. Ours was
the only class that came with Kleenex.

I want to share a piece I wrote as one of the class writing exercises. It is one
of my fondest childhood memories, and I’m grateful for the chance to bring it
forward again.

***

My older brother dug holes in our backyard. They were large and deep enough to
sit in undetected by casual passersby. I loved those magnificent holes Tom
shared with me.

Mama allowed him to have only one hole going at a time, lest the backyard become
an unusable No Man’s Land. He always filled one hole in before starting another
one.

I watched for signs Tom was about to start another hole. I tagged along to watch
him choose a site. He was limited to a four-foot radius around the mulberry
tree. Grass wouldn’t grow there anyway, and Mama had given up trying. He walked
around and around, kicking a rock here, prodding a dirt clod there. Finally he
would sink his shovel into the ground, and I’d know he’d found his spot.

And Tom’s holes were always clean. I never got my play clothes dirty sitting in
them, and you could take books and magazines down there without fear of ruining
them. I would run my fingers across the hard-packed walls or floor without
soiling my hands. I always suspected Mama cleaned our holes when we weren’t
looking.

When the hole was finished, we observed a brief dedication ceremony, culminating
in both of us climbing in and sitting down. I was protected, circumscribed, and
unassailable, totally safe. Sitting in that hole with Tom felt like a hug.

4 thoughts on “A Childhood Memory

  1. What a moving recollection. I’m happy that you enjoyed the retreat. If you haven’t yet, you must read Donna’s memoir, “Holy Ghost Girl”. I seldom read memoir but that one is fascinating

    • Thank you so much, Tony! I have read her book, and it was fabulous. The genre and topic were unusual for me, too, but I could hardly put it down.

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