What is your earliest memory?
My earliest memory, I was 3 years old. I was born in Brooklyn in 1965 so I would say that it was in 1968 that I became aware of my memory and is stuck with me ever since. When I tell people I can remember back to when I was 3 years old, most think that I’m imagining it but let me tell you what happened in detail and let me know what you think.
I was in the backyard of our house in Brooklyn riding my big wheel, not riding it very well considering I could never get from one end of the driveway to the other without falling off at least once, I heard my mother call my name and as a three-year-old can i nimbly got up and went to see what she wanted, I was hoping that it was ice cream or a cookie or something nice for me. My mother told me that the next door neighbor had a surprise for me, the next door neighbor was this kindly old Jewish woman I don’t remember her name but I remember I called her Nana it was like having a second grandmother. I remember that night I used to take care of me when my mom had to go to work and my dad was hard work himself my brothers and sisters all had junior high and high school and whatever they were going my little sister had not yet been born so I was the last child so I need a babysitter. But on this day I was home with my mom it was a Sunday it was after church and then I had a surprise for me so I quickly ran up to the front door where my mom was waiting on the porch with Nana.
Nana met me with a smile and open arms she would pinch my cheeks and call me “yassula”, I thought you called me that because it was like a nickname but I answer to it. Mana had just came back from a store where she bought me a little sailor’s outfit it was blue with white stripes a sailor’s cap little blue shorts white socks and white and blue shoes. My mom took me inside and got me dressed and then brought me outside with her and then I took pictures and cooed over me cuddle me hug me made me salute try to teach me a sailing song. It felt weird to have my mom and Nana treat me like I was a doll handing me back and forth to see who could rock me faster or who could make me laugh, I miss that.
About 4 months later my father had came home with my mom and announce to the family that they bought a new house in Long Beach about an hour and a half to two hours away from where we live now well at the time I should say, I remember the U Haul truck that they loaded everything onto and the ride to Long Beach I fell asleep and woke up several times and my mother’s lap. It wasn’t that far from my home in Brooklyn where my mom would still take me to go visit Nana from time to time then one day we stopped going and I asked when I was going to see Nana again someday
A few years later I found out that Nana had passed away, I also found out a few things that I didn’t know, I found out that Nana and her husband were survivors of the Holocaust where thousands of Jews had lost their lives just for being Jewish.
Nana and her husband survived but their only child, who had died about 3 or 4 had not he couldn’t survive the train ride he couldn’t survive the hell that they were put through and he died in his sleep, it broke Nana’s heart to lose him.
I found out his name, was Yassula, so my earliest memory was replacing the love of a lost child to a woman who had lost all hope and joy many years before, my mother knew of her pain and also knew that she was very sick so my mother make sure that I would be there for Nana. I would be there for Nana to give her any hope, any love, and any joy that would last her until the end of her time.
I miss Nana, I hope she misses me too, but I love her and I knew that she loved me.
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