(Write to Done – Unmissable articles on writing challenged me to write a personal story of 350 words or less.
My directions are: Open the story with the phrase, “My earliest memory is…” )
My earliest memory is lying on my father’s barrel chest, discovering its cushion of softness. As a baby, I ran my hand over wiry strands and reveled in the tickles. Amidst welcome newness, I sensed a pleasant and safe masculinity that would imprint my heart and brand a lifetime of love for this gentle, loving father.
Perhaps because I tickled him, my father laughed. I felt the vibrations reverberate through his chest. It messaged a signal of happiness. It confused me because there was no one else around. This time, there was no mom, no siblings, and no pets in the room. In what may have been my first sense of “me”, I discovered I could create.
At that moment, I bonded with this man. I laughed back at him, clutched his chest and heard his yelp of pain. I was confused again and surprised that I had created an even different response from this gentle adult.
When I was in my 40s, I asked Dad if he remembered this incident. He didn’t. Having had four children before me, this precious minute had joined a myriad of other savouries in the mixing bowl of family minutiae.
My memory, however, has kept the feelings fresh. As a woman now in my 60s, I enjoy recalling the feeling of being a baby lying on my father’s chest and swimming in his welcome presence. My crib had been set up at one end of mom and dad’s small bedroom. It had been morning and mom was downstairs making breakfast. Dad, who worked away from home many months of the year, must have gathered me, his new baby girl, from my crib and placed me on his huge warm chest.
How old was I? Old enough to sense a father’s love. Not old enough, however, to realize how he had set a standard for life.