Memoir: Presence


On my grandparent’s shaggy avocado green carpet, I set up the Winnie the Pooh Weeble house they gave me for Christmas. Chubby Christopher Robin and Tigger go for a ride on the teeter totter.  Pooh slides down the mini slide, rolling around when he gets to the bottom.  “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!” I sing as I push them on the tiny swings, after I have given them a nice picnic lunch of honey, of course.  I tuck Pooh into his little bed and sing him a good night song, 

“Do you want a girl baby or a boy baby?” my mother asks me.  She’s interviewing me, taping us on a little flat black cassette player.

“I want a girl baby because I’m a girl!” I answer giggling as she starts to tickle me. “Ho-Ho-Ho-Hosanna!  Ha-Ha-Ha-llelujah! He-he-he saved me!  I’ve got the Joy of the Lord!” we sing together.


Someone from our church has a 2-bedroom house they are renting out. The extra space is welcome now that my mom is expecting a baby.  The house is arranged in a circle, bedrooms on the right when you walk in, if you keep walking, you’ll pass the bathroom before you turn left into the kitchen, then out into the dining room through to the front room until you’re back at the front door. I race through the house, seeing how many circles I can make before I fall. It has a large attached garage where dad can park our Pinto

Our new house has a humongous backyard lined with kumquat and lemon trees.  In the center is a gigantic avocado tree.  The yard backs up to an alley, where teenage boys hop the cinderblock wall to steal avocados to sell.  Grandpa Ferguson builds a sandbox for me out of old scrap wood and paints it yellow.  A small clown is painted on the corner of the box where he puts his signature.  My mom watches me from the kitchen window, as I fill a toy dump truck with sand, pretending I’m working with my dad and Grandpa Ferguson, getting grout from the tile store.  I sense someone standing by the lemon tree and tell him about the story I’m creating.  My mom comes out, “Who ya talking to?”  drying her hands on a dishtowel. “I was just talking to Jesus” I answer. His presence is as real to me as hers.  I inhale the scent of lemons as the wind rustles the leaves. 

“Don’t forget to cover the sandbox so the cats don’t poop in it.” She hollers as she waddles back into the house.