Arriving in 1945’s spring
I pinpointed my birth a week before FDR’s death, thus admired Eleanor & Dems.
Glad later not to join the overflowing ranks of Baby Boomers
Still in utero or merely a gleam in the future’s eye
Grew first months in home of paternal grands while father,
Stationed in England, finished WWII bombing of the enemy,
[stories retold so often that my four brothers-to-come assigned them numbers–
Dad was not of the ranks of silent survivors.]
Mother nursed me and jealousy over a bigger, better baby shower
His sister “threw” for her best friend
(Hers were at a distance, gas rationed– these facts I know)
Because when I reached 59 years and pressed, I learned of long-held bitter feelings,
Unwilling to breach into 60s hearing ‘You know what you’re like’ &
Parental looks comparable to passing Chicago dump or shellac making on then- Doty, that connector highway between Hegewisch and my homeland, Roseland.
I comfort a small, colicky babe still within, attended by all these:
Grands celebrating 1st granddaughter, aunt adored/ adoring for 65 years , her demise after I flew to her in Texas to sing her to heaven;
uncle so recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s–such a treatment puzzler — after when, marriage of two years broken, he became a medical Guinea pig in a Chicago hospital of prominent research
up to and after a lobotomy.
We were made of stern Dutch stock, I at age 2, was plunked on a pew and required to sit motionless through Worship day-and-night: “long prayer ” questioned at dinner if less than 30 minutes, each
Sermon an hour.
Motionless reward: no midday service in Dutch add-on
Punishment as Father played organ, then rapped sleepyhead tots awake to listen:
“This is church!” Not understood Calvinist words,
Though I did pick up languages quickly from their cadence and
Words of a multi-ethnic neighborhood of Swedish, Irish, Lithuanian, heard at 110 grannies gathered weekdays at “ma’s”–
coffee at 10 or tea at 4, ‘shh’ for White Sox on radio by Grandpa,
His milkman duties done in time for games and grub–
“Die jonge ” signaled polyglot argot devised to keep our ears (or
Memories which might be carried home) pure.
Gertrude Stein nods knowingly: “We are always the same age inside.”.