Ghostly Images

Mom, my oldest brother, Tom, my second oldest brother, Bob, my dad. In front: my little brother, Anthony, my older sister, Rosemary, and me. 1966

Memories of my childhood come and go.

My father and my uncle are repairing our black and white television. They have pulled it out from the blonde wood cabinet that it is usually set in. I can hear their low voices talking about the “tubes”. My uncle knows how to fix it and I’m happy to watch them work together. My mother and aunt are in the kitchen and I can hear their voices but not what they are saying. I look out the big bay window in our living room. The sky is dark, night has fallen.

The image leaves and another takes its place.

I am with my oldest brother at his girlfriend’s house. Her little brother is in the backyard. He has a tent set up and my brother tells me to play with Johnny while he and Sue “wash the floor in the house.” I’m a little sad, but I do as he says. He’s going to be leaving for Vietnam soon. I don’t want him to go.

That image fades away.

I am in the kitchen and my second oldest brother is making his Donald Duck voice and I am laughing at him. He’s funny. But then he shows me how he can sew his fingers together with a needle and thread. I’m afraid it’s hurting him, but he says it isn’t. He threatens to give me an Indian burn on my arm, so I run away.

And the memory disappears while another takes its place.

My mother has filled the sink with water and dish detergent. The suds cover the dishes and she is playing with me with the suds. The bubbles look so inviting, so colorful, light, and cool. I reach into the sink and can feel them on my hands. We are both laughing.

Another image comes to mind.

My mother has given my big sister and I real large potatoes and we are sticking Mr. Potato Head eyes, noses, mouths, and ears into them. We are giggling at the faces we make on them.

Quick change.

My little brother and I are playing with Silly Putty. Flattening it out, pressing it on the colorful Sunday “funnies” section of the newspaper. Then stretching the Silly Putty to distort the images. More laughter.

I am enjoying this, but another memory surfaces.

It is a hot summer night. My older brothers aren’t there anymore. One is in the Airforce, the other is in the Navy. The rest of my family is outside in the backyard screened-in patio. The small black and white television has been rolled into the entrance of the doorway to the house. The antenna on the tv has been adjusted and the television has been plugged into the outlet that’s for the back light on the wall of the back of the house. My father is watching a baseball game. There’s a fan going too, it’s loud but it’s keeping us cool. My mother is cutting up watermelon on the table in the patio. I’m hoping she will let us, my sister, brother, and I sleep out in the patio tonight because the house is too warm. I’m watching the fireflies light up and then disappear in the yard as I’m sitting on the patio lounge chair. The only one that has a cushion. My siblings and I often fight over who gets to sit on it because it’s the most comfortable of all the chairs. In my mind’s eye, I smile, my heart is full of comfort, home, family.

Then that image, too, fades. Ghostly images of my childhood. They come and go.

My little brother, Anthony, and me in the screened in back patio. 1966.
My mom and dad with my older sister, me, my little brother, and my sister-in-law, Kathy. About 1974

Theresa Dodaro is the author of The Tin Box Trilogy; The Porcelain Doll; and The Bayman’s Daughter. All are available on Amazon.

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