The Very Beginning
May 14th, 2010

I was almost two-and-a-half years old.  Daddy came home and picked me up to take me to the hospital.  As we walked down the hallway we had to stop and wash my hands.  We washed them in a water fountain.  Why in a water fountain, I’m not sure.

The soap was pink and antibacterial.  The water was cool and dripped down my wrists.  After we washed my hands I had to put on a tiny gown over my clothes.  I noticed that the pattern on the gown was the same as the pattern on my blanky at home.  That made the gown not so scary.

As we walked down the hallway I noticed a yellow chair rail and a banister.  I reached up over my head and dragged my fingers along the banister, which probably made the thorough hand washing pointless.  It didn’t matter at the time. 

Eventually we turned left and walked into a room.  I saw a little crib, but it was empty.  Then I heard my mother’s voice from the other direction.  She was sitting in a rocking chair and holding a baby. 

It was my sister, Anne

There are other stories from that day.  Candidly, my parents’ memories make better stories.  I’ve been told countless times about how I looked at my sister and said in a squeaky voice, “little bitty fingers.”  I think I remember it, but I don’t.  It is a memory I have created from having heard the story so many times.

But the hallway, the fountain, the soap, and the gown – those memories are real.

About twelve years later I told this story to my dad.  He confirmed the particulars of my story, but confessed that he hadn’t thought about those things since the day they happened.  These things register differently in the mind of a toddler. 

It is my earliest memory.  I remember nothing else from my life until the age of five.  Apparently I understood, even then, that it was something worth remembering.

Perhaps it is contrived significance.  But I’ve always enjoyed knowing that my life – at least as I can remember it – began on the day I met my sister.

Gale (six months pregnant with IEP) and Anne, before her wedding

This theme of this post is “Memory”, as part of Momalom’s “Five for Ten”.

13 Responses to “The Very Beginning”

  1. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Bawling like a freaking little ninny over here. You two are so lucky to have each other, to share a life through one another’s viewfinder.

  2. Anne Says:

    Yep, you made me cry before 6:00am. What a beautiful way to start my day. I guess I can say my life began when I met you. Thanks, sis…I’m glad you have this memory, and I’m glad I have you.

  3. JBS Says:

    I’m their mother and I can hardly see right now.

  4. Jeff Says:

    I am beaming with happiness through my wet eyes. Thanks, Gale!

    Dad

  5. Bridget Says:

    OK, I need to call my sister… What a beautiful way to summarize: “my life began the day I met my sister”. Contact Hallmark, I think they have their next commercial idea! :)

  6. Eva @ Eva Evolving Says:

    I love this story – and I love the photo of you two! Amazing the detail you remember at such a young age.

  7. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    I feel so lucky and so grateful to have had the chance to read this wonderful tribute to Anne and to sisterhood and to memory. Your post touches on a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: the power of stories and photos to shape and tweak memory. (I have a picture of my family from the day my younger brother was born and I’m pretty sure all of my memories of that time stem from that photo.) Your piece also makes me a bit wistful that my toddler wasn’t a bit older when my baby was born. Oh, to imagine that he might remember the magic of their first meeting and be able to recount it even half as beautifully as you did here today.

    Thanks, Gale. Have a great weekend!

  8. Corinne Says:

    How incredible to have that memory… I can only hope my kids remember bits as clearly… at any age. The good things. The special and wonderful.

  9. Jane Says:

    What a beautiful memory and now that you’ve shared it I’m racking my brain for my earliest memories with my own sister. Such a treasure, the relationship with your sister. Great post!

  10. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    My favorite post of yours yet. Cheers to life, love, and sisters!

  11. BigLittleWolf Says:

    I’m so glad I saw this. What a lovely story, and how fortunate you two are to have each other. Love the picture!

  12. Ten Dollar Thoughts » Blog Archive » New York State of Mind Says:

    [...] my link for Friday’s topic of “Memory” posted, so if you missed it, scroll down or click here. Comment (RSS) [...]

  13. Jen Says:

    Oh those sister stories. You know how I love them! I remember the night Sarah was born. I remember my mom waking me up. I remember seeing her in the doorway of my bedroom. Pregnant for the last time. And I remember tiny baby Sarah. LOUD tiny baby Sarah. :)