I’ve always been fascinated by the stories families tell about each other, particularly when the stories conflict.
The event that occasioned my weaning from the bottle has always been one of my favorites. My father told me his version throughout my childhood to demonstrate what I spirited little thing I was, and I reveled in the drama of the image that the story evoked.
I didn’t think to ask my mother for her version until I was an adult and had a child of my own.
Weaning Baby Liz from the Bottle
According to my father, I was weaned from the bottle on the day that my mother came into my room to get me up from my nap and I was so happy to see her that I tossed my bottle out of the crib with such gay abandon that it smashed on the floor like a wineglass, spraying milk and broken glass all over the room. And my mother vowed, that as God was her witness, Liz would never drink from a bottle again!
My mother’s version of the story is that I woke up from my nap and unscrewed the top from the bottle, dumped the milk on myself, then waited miserably in my wet nightie in my wet crib for someone to come in and clean up the mess.
Back in the 1980s, when it came time to clear out my mother’s childhood home at 27 Edgewood Road in Lexington, Massachusetts, I learned that the house had been designed by well-known local architect Willard Brown, my grandfather’s uncle. (A little about Uncle Willard in my next post.)
Even more surprising, the house I’d known throughout my childhood was not in fact as Uncle Willard had designed it. An entire section had been an addition put on by my grandfather when the older generation began dying off with no place for their household effects to go.
My Aunt Margie was dismissive of her father’s need to hold onto other people’s stuff as pack-ratting, but I’m not so sure. When I was helping my mother downsize for the second time recently, I found myself taking home household effects I had no room for because it felt as if my childhood were being dismantled, and I just couldn’t bear it.
The other odd thing about that addition at 27 Edgewood Road was that neither my brother nor I had stepped foot inside it until well after both of our grandparents were dead. I don’t recall either of us ever questioning why it was off-limits.
27 Edgewood Road Before the Older Generations Started Dying Off
27 Edgewood Road After the Older Generations Started Dying Off
27 Edgewood Road Under Construction
27 Edgewood Road No Longer in the Family
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