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easter 1974 pic

I remember this day.  I remember that little girl.

She was newly 4 and her grandma made these beautiful Easter dresses!

She could not wait to wear it, even though her sister’s dress seemed so much prettier and more grown up than hers…  She knew she’d never be quite as big or smart or pretty as her older sister she adored, but she hoped someday when she got big she might be smart and pretty too.

She loved singing into the metal fan. The silly voice vibrations made her giggle so hard!

She was painfully conscious of being little…smaller and weaker than everyone else in her world.  Always aware that she wasn’t really like the others in her little family.  All she saw in the mirror was that ugly, unruly white hair and sickly pale skin.  And she stared a lot: stared at her sister’s beautiful soft brown skin and shiny, sleek, well-behaved hair which was just like Mom’s except shorter, hoping when she got big, her hair and skin and eyes would look beautiful like theirs. Hoping she would fit in better when she grew up.

She felt so much smaller and less than the world around her.  She tried hard to make up for this by being cute or silly or funny. It didn’t really work with her mom, but she could make her daddy laugh.

Laughing with Daddy was the best thing in the world!

Her beautiful mother, whom she thought of as a fairy tale goddess, never seemed pleased with her, but she’d never ever give up trying; telling herself, when I’m big and smart and pretty, she’ll love me so much!  Then, she will love me for sure! 

Not too long after this glorious day when she picked dandelions and wore the beautiful princess dress, mom had given she and her sister some money to walk to the store next door to buy ice cream for the 3 of them.  Ice cream bars were 25 cents next door. It looked like her sister had a handful of shiny quarters Mom had given to them to spend. YAY!

She loved going to the store for her mom.  It made her feel grown up and responsible.  Mom wanted an Eskimo Pie and she and her sister could each choose an ice cream too.

It was so exciting to get to go to the store with her sister and get to pick her own treat!  She had chosen an ice cream sandwich and her sister had chosen a treat and grabbed an Eskimo Pie for mom.

At the counter, she saw behind the clerk were Cracker Jacks.  She didn’t like the taste of Cracker Jacks very much, but she knew there was a surprise inside the box and she thought how happy her mom would be if she could give her a present. What if it was a beautiful ring or necklace?  Oh, Mom would be so happy!

cracker jacks.jpg

So she told her sister, they should get the Cracker Jacks instead of the Eskimo Pie so that they could surprise Mom with a beautiful present.  Her sister didn’t think this was a good idea at all.  Dawn said, Okay, but Mom’s gonna be really mad…

She didn’t understand this. Dawn must be confused. How could Mom ever be mad when we would be giving her a surprise present?  Probably a beautiful diamond ring or something better even.  There was no way Mom could ever be mad at that!  So, she begged and begged her sister to get the Cracker Jacks.  She wished she could see the prize inside before buying it to know what it was, but she’d seen the commercials on TV, she felt positive it would be something just beautiful that would make Mommy so happy!

Dawn relented and bought the Cracker Jacks.

Ohhhh… she was so excited, she could barely wait to get home to open the Cracker Jacks in secret and then run out and surprise her Mom with something beautiful!  She practically ran the few hundred feet home to her mom.

When they got home, Mom was sitting in the baby blue crushed velvet chair in the living room.  She ran straight up to her and thought she was clever to very nonchalantly say, Mommy, these Cracker Jacks are for you, but I’m going to take them upstairs for a minute and I’ll be right back down, okay? 

Before the whole sentence was even out of her mouth, Mommy backhanded her across the face, screaming furious words she didn’t understand.

She was stunned and shocked.    Maybe a surprise wasn’t a good idea after all.  So she explained, Mommy, please don’t be mad at me!?  I got you a surprise.  I bet it’s a beautiful diamond ring or necklace.  There’s a surprise in the box for you!  I got you a surprise!

Mommy backhanded her face again, even harder…or maybe it wasn’t harder than the first.  Her cheek was just still stinging hot from the first one and her nose still smarted a bit before the second one hit so maybe that’s why the second backhand felt harder even after she’d explained there was a beautiful surprise, she wasn’t sure.

She was utterly confused at the ferocity of this sudden and unexpected anger!  Why was Mommy mad?  She just wanted to surprise her with something beautiful.

Maybe Mommy still didn’t understand that the Cracker Jack’s had a beautiful surprise for her?  Maybe that’s why she was still mad?  She just didn’t know what I meant when I said we got it to give her a surprise?  Maybe she’s too mad to hear me over her screaming?  I’d better be quiet and go to my room for now like Mommy says.

I’ll try again to explain it later. Mommy will be so happy!