Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pepe La Pew Valentine

It's almost Valentines day.

My mom has been "visiting" with us since August.

So she was here when I was explaining to my first-grader, last night, why he had to get Valentines for *all* his classmates if he was going to get Valentines for any.

Because otherwise, Valentines can be a pretty miserable experience.  Charlie Brown-kind of miserable.

And if you DO get a Valentine . . . .it still has the same message as the absence of the Valentines did.

Being raised in a Hoarder home, no matter where we went, we brought whatever place we were staying at to the same state of rot.  And usually, sooner or later, the plumbing stopped working, or the washer.  If we had a washer at all.  So, there is a distinct smell to my memory.  It is a mix of mold, food rot, animal, and grime.  And if the lice was really particularly bad, the sores would have their own particular stink.  The weight of that smell was something I was keenly aware of and carried with me, however, I was powerless to do anything about it.  

This is from elementary school . . . it always feels to me like I was perpetually 8 or 9 years old.  One of the nick-names I had was "buffalo-butt", and not because I was big.  

Now, I recall, it's Valentine's Day.  My box (made to receive Valentine) was light, and my Valentine I got was of Pepe' le Pew. *ouch*

I don't have any positive memories of Valentine's day as a kid.  

Back to last night. I recount this to my son.  My mother overhears and starts to negate all of it.  And that is part of what drives me crazy. She negates that we smelled at all.  She says that it must have been just ME that *I* didn't bathe, or she concedes that MAYBE it was at ----- place because once, I (again, my fault) left the window open and the bathroom pipes froze and we had no plumbing for a *short* time. 


In her reality there was no smell, there was no problem and *if* there was, it was my fault.

And it's useless.  During her diatribe against my memory I stay silent.  If I say ANYTHING at all, the monologue continues, ad infinitum. 

But it angers me that she just flat out denies *all* of my recall, only allowing anything she could blame on me.  The lice too - I told her once that I remembered *always* having lice.  We used to wear flea collars as headbands and necklaces to help with the bitting.  But she says that it was only *me* that got lice, and that was from me sharing a hat or brush with a kid at school.

Thankfully, for my sanity, others are able to corroborate my experience.  Otherwise, I might think I truly am insane.

Today, my boy comes home from school with a loot of sweets (all those he COULDN'T eat at school) and Valentine's that tops his booty from Halloween!  He reads and re-reads every corny "be mine" and feels true friendship with each student that gave.  He is ecstatic and happy to share all his goodies with me, 'cause I'm the sweetest, he says.

Happy Valentine's Day everybody!


Sarah said...

I feel your pain. You're strong to keep your mother in your life, I had to remove myself from mine. Peace

Unknown said...

Hello there!

It's always gratifying to find someone else out there who "knows." For example, the smell you write of: It is a mix of mold, food rot, animal, and grime. Yup. That captures it pretty perfectly.
Thank you for your honesty and your writing. As a child of a hoarder I can completely relate. I just wrote a book talking about my childhood and how I broke away from the shame I felt. I think you'd like it. The title is The Emancipation of a Buried Man. Please contact me at if you'd like more information.

Thank you kindly,
Eddy Gilmore