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Knee deep

by Carol Burnside

I’m knee deep in writing, editing and promo, so I’m going to cheat a little today and share with you a previous post from my personal blog. Occasionally, I feel particularly uninspired, so I’ll check out the WordPress daily prompt or writers challenge for bloggers. Sometimes it strikes a chord, as it did last August. The scene below is what stuck in my head as if someone had flipped a light switch and the scene came alive.

The challenge:

Your earliest memory. Capture every detail. Document the quality of the memory — is it as sharp as HDTV or hazy and ethereal, enveloped in fog? Write for 10 minutes. Go. (I wrote longer than 10 minutes, but once the story has it’s grip on you…)

– – – – –

My Earliest Memory

Crystal clear, the rare memory comes to me. Unexpected. Poignant. The breath-stealing glee of the moment. I’m three years old and we’re in our old green Chevy wagon beneath the faded red and white metal car port. My homemade dress and petticoat are awash in lace and ruffles, a bit scratchy against my skin, but a testament to my mother’s sewing talents. Tucked into my white patent leather shoes and ruffled socks, my feet long for the freedom of flip-flops.

Inside the car is a potpourri of Old Spice and Final Net and the smell of kids’ sweaty hair. Chatter surrounds me as my family emerges from the vehicle resplendent in their Sunday worship finery and someone lifts me from their lap. Mama orders all to change and vows she’ll have lunch on the table in a few minutes. My mind plays tricks on me now, supplying another scent memory, of pot roast wafting from the oven.

“Bump me, Daddy.” My feet have barely touched down in powdery soft dirt dotted with ant lion dens when I ask. Perhaps I say it twice, a little begging in the second request due to the fact he’s had a long work week and is hungry because our pastor was long-winded. Suddenly, I feel his large hands close around my tiny chest from behind. He swings me over his head, sits me on his shoulders and still holding my hands, pretends to bump my head on the metal rafters of the car port.

Six feet above the ground, I soar above the Earth, squealing my delight at the feeling of flying, of freedom, of danger! I can indulge in the fright of possible injury because I have complete trust in the hands that hold me, the gentle care of the man who protects as he pretends reckless abandon. My laughter rings out in shrieks of delight, bathing me in a golden moment. It’s one which holds such perfection and unconditional love, I still wonder today if that’s what it’s like in the Heaven my Sunday school teacher talked about.

My Daddy went there six years later, leaving me with far too few of these perfect, golden memories.

– – – – –

I hope you’ve enjoyed this memory, served up in response to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge. It is but my recollection, with scents and sounds and emotion clouding what was. Others who were there may remember it differently, or not at all. That is not to say that they are wrong, nor am I for these things are connected to feelings and are therefore fluid and fragile and fleeting.

[…] I’m blogging on PFHT with an encore of a blog originally posted here, but which I loved enough to give it more […]

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2014 - 4:03 am

What an amazing memory, and so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it with us. Sometimes I think I remember when I was three. I have a memory of my father holding me and we’re standing in front of some cannonballs by the water when we used to live in Charleston but then I think I just remember it from a picture I have of us.

Carol Burnside - February 6, 2014 - 4:40 am

Marilyn, I think a lot of memories are conglomerates of a feeling that resonated, a moment crystalized in our memories and perhaps reinforced by a photo. However we maintain them, I’m glad we’re able to call them up from time to time.

mikey2ct - February 6, 2014 - 8:57 am

Carol, what a beautiful memory!
In ’48 or ’49, I went to a funeral with my parents on Christmas day. There was snow on the ground and we put to rest my maternal great grandmother’s second husband.
In those days, my family traveled to Reading from Philadelohia, PA by steam locomotive pulled train. Born in ’43, i’d have to do an ancestry check to find out the exact year.

Pam Asberry - February 6, 2014 - 10:12 am

I am glad you shared this post with us today, Carol. Now I am inspired to do some recollecting of my own…

Connie Gillam - February 6, 2014 - 10:15 am


What a great exercise and so much detail. My earliest memories are of kids, flowers and a hill. The hill was probably just a rise in the earth, but at four it seemed like a hill to me.

Sandy Elzie - February 6, 2014 - 11:42 am

Beautifully written memory…one that reminded me of my own “Sunday Best” dress with the scratchy crenlin underskirt to make it stand out. (Sigh) Those were such carefree days…sometimes I wish I could grab them back & hold them close…and never forget the love I was surrounded with.

Carol Burnside - February 6, 2014 - 2:24 pm

MIKEY2CT, thanks for traveling over from my blog and sharing your memory. That’s a sad Christma for a little boy.

Carol Burnside - February 6, 2014 - 2:25 pm

See, Pam? Here I was being lazy and it turned out good. Go recollect on paper or a screen. :-)

Carol Burnside - February 6, 2014 - 2:32 pm

I know what you mean, Connie. Things in our memory are proportionate basedon our height at the time. I always thought my Granny had a big refrigerator. Then we moved away and came back after a few months. I guess I’d grown some, because I could see the top of it and I’m only 5’5″. It seemed my Granny had shrunk in height too!

Carol Burnside - February 6, 2014 - 2:40 pm

I know what you mean, Sandy. Those scratchy underskirts were the worst and then having to sit through a sermon without wiggling around to escape it was torture.

My mother could sew beautiful clothes. Handmade meant we had some awesome Easter dresses. I don’t know where she found the time with four kids, no microwave and a wringer type washing machine.

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2014 - 6:24 pm

Carol, the earliest memory I have is when I was three. That seems to be a good age.

Carol Burnside - February 6, 2014 - 9:23 pm

Walt, I’m notorious in my family for having the worst memory, so when I do remember something, I try to hang on to it. :-)

Susan Carlisle - February 7, 2014 - 8:40 am

What a beautiful picture of you and your father.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - February 8, 2014 - 4:57 pm

Thanks, Susan!

Maxine - February 9, 2014 - 11:29 pm

Carol, that was absolutely fabulous. Wonderful memory! I wish I could do so good.

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