There she’s been. Right under my nose all this time. Ever since I was 10 months old. That was the month my biological father returned from the TB sanatorium. A stranger to me. Unknown except for two very short visits so he could see I was real.
Too bad for him–that I was real, I mean. He didn’t have a clue what was coming. I already had a mother and a friendly family around me. We lived in their house, which was now My Home. Uncle Ed was my substitute father. His wife, Aunt Wyn, was my mother’s friend and our gracious hostess. Their daughter Grace was my surrogate 8-years old big sister.
I was happy as a lark–most of the time. All these adults loved me, smiled at me, played with me, babysat me and generally did whatever I needed to have done. Of course they were also thrilled when I slept through the night. Who wouldn’t be?
But then one day The Intruder came messing around. No one called the police or sent him packing. And no one asked me what I thought about him. They all seemed thrilled beyond belief to see him. I was not.
The who’s-in-charge struggle was on from the beginning. Not just between him (The Intruder!) and me, but between him and my mother! I’m the head of the household, now! And you, Woman, are no longer in charge of Marie. I am. Except, of course, for making sure Marie has clean diapers and gets fed on time.
I digress. Yes, Marie is my new baby doll’s name. It’s the only part of my name that belongs to me. ‘Elouise’, as I learned to my distress when I was older, was my biological father’s private name for my mother, Eileen. Just thinking about it still makes me feel smarmy. You can read about it here.
You might think a 10-month old baby doesn’t pay attention to things like this–just so someone is taking care of her. Maybe you haven’t heard about bonding and how strong and important it is? Let me tell you, I wasn’t about to accept The Intruder without a fight.
So now Marie has arrived in real-time. My very young baby girl doll. And I’m feeling down because I can’t think of even a tiny part of my life that hasn’t already been messed up by The Intruder.
Thanks to a friend of many years, I saw the light late this week. The first 10 months of my life (plus 8 months in my mother’s womb) were the most important 18 months of my life! The Intruder was flat on his back in a TB sanatorium for 18 months. Fighting for his life. Not a stranger to my mother, but a Total Stranger to me.
Why is this so important? It isn’t just because of early bonding with my mother and my surrogate family. It’s also because he didn’t own and couldn’t mess with what happened in and to me before he came home from the sanatorium. That means he is NOT the standard for who I was, am or might yet become. His influence is NOT baked into who I am.
Which leaves me with two questions from my poem, Searching for what we’ve lost.
Am I ready for this?
What will I do now?
©Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 September 2018
Thanks to YouTube for the apt and lively song in praise of Marie.