|Enjoying the sun.|
My sister and I were reminiscing. Bette is 10 years older than I and often served as my babysitter. Every time we talked about our childhood I always brought up her sunbathing story.
It was one of those unseasonably early hot spring days. I was just a toddler and she must have been about 12. Bette was stretched out on a chaise lounge trying to get a tan. I toddled around. Our back and side yards grew into the woods. I meandered about along the edge. I remembered being attracted to some bright yellow and red colors.
As I bent down to touch those colorful jewels, the ground moved. In fact, my little chubby legs with dimpled knees were swept up in the air. I was upended!
Lying on my back, snakes slithered all over me, as I screamed shrieking horror!
Bette came running, but only so far. When she saw all the snakes, she stopped. It may have taken a minute, but it was an interminable terrifying moment. Then Bette grabbed me and hugged me.
I remember crying hiccups. I remember my heart racing and slowly beating down to its natural rhythm. I remember shivering and the day was sweltering hot.
I remember everything all too well.
I don’t remember my mother’s reaction when she heard the story. I don’t know if she ever knew the story. Bette may never have told her; after all, I was only about two and certainly didn’t have the vocabulary to articulate the horrific event. Did I even know what a snake was, at two?
Anyway, I often reminded my sister of her inattentive babysitting. However, one day when I was looking at my grandchildren’s growth statistics, I began to question my memory. All my grandchildren’s heights were in the 90% range, when compared to other children’s. So were my own children’s (I looked them up in their baby memory books.) My own baby height must have been 90%, also. I was always one of the tallest in my class.
My children and grandchildren, however, were only in the 50% range for weight. I was a skinny kid, too. Did I ever have chubby legs with dimpled knees? I don’t have that many baby pictures of myself but those that I have show a skinny baby, toddler, and child.
Besides, children don’t remember much before their fifth birthday, never mind before they’re three years old. How could I remember what happened when I was a toddler?
Then when I did a google search of snakes found in northern Massachusetts, I didn’t see any pictures of the snakes that I remembered. Not until I saw a coral snake, did I recognize my old assailant. There was the red, yellow and shiny snake that I remembered. It’s a coral snake. But they only live the southern states.
Was it possible that my walking into snakes sunning themselves in the sun was just a dream? Could a dream be so vividly frightening to seem real to a child? Is it possible?
When I questioned my sister about it, she just shrugged her shoulders. I talked about it so much that she thought it must have happened, too. There’s a famous quote “If you tell a lie big enough and often enough, people will eventually come to believe it.” I guess I just proved it true.