Monday, November 14, 2016

Sunbathing


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.

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