So many stories bubble up and then, before I have the chance to put them to paper, subside again. Drat!
When we moved from North Dakota to Idaho my Mom and Dad drove. My Dad drove a car with one passenger and a bunch of household goods while Mom drove a car that could accommodate one passenger as well as a whole lot of household goods.
As the youngest, I rode with Mom. I didn’t know my father all that well. He was frequently gone from the home for a variety of reasons. After a day or two, my elder sister decided enough was enough, and demanded equal time with Mom. Dad was never an easy person, and I suspect my late-teen sister had reached the end of her rope.
As long as we were in a caravan I was more or less fine. Then the unthinkable happened. We got separated. Worse, I realized we’d lost Mom.
I was already terrified of Indian attacks. And no, I’m not that old. I was simply very young and didn’t understand there were no more Indians attacking wagon trains – or cars – on the trek from North Dakota to Idaho. Where I got the idea we could be killed by Indians I’ve no idea.
It wasn’t bad enough that I’d left my Grandma and aunts, uncles, and cousins behind. Now I’d lost Mom forever. The hell with my sister, she had Mom and I didn’t. I was a weeping wailing mess.
There was nothing my father could do or say that would stop me from crying – outside of offering to “give me something to cry about” which made me cry that much harder.
I was not yet seven years old. I had no idea there was only one road she could take. So we sat at a turnoff facing the road. I seem to remember going from wailing to mere sobbing and hand wringing while staring down the road towards North Dakota – wondering how long it would take me to walk back to Grandma’s house.
Then that little delivery wagon of hers shot down the road at about ten million miles an hour. She was past us and over the horizon before Dad could turn on the car and get back on the road. Later in life I’d wonder if she was related to Mario Andretti because no matter how fast he went Dad couldn’t catch her. So near, but yet so far. Lost again. More weeping and wailing.
We did find her before evening. I seem to recollect her having to peel me off her several times. My sister fumed the rest of the way to Idaho because I was not getting out of Mom’s car. Not quite true – she could have strapped me to the top with the other luggage, but I was not going with Dad. No way she was getting away from me again.
I can’t even begin to describe what driving by Massacre Rock in Idaho did for me. If my hair had not been French braided so tightly that my eyes felt slanted it would probably have been standing straight up off my scalp.
I remember coming into Boise and the road down into the valley was so close to the edge that I was holding one of Mom’s rosaries and doing a little kid’s version of “God, please don’t let me die when we fall off the edge.”
My daughter asks me why I over-explain. I wish to Buddha that someone had taken little Toad Girl and showed her a map and drawn a line down the road so she knew there was only one way to go. And told her that there were no wild Indians. Or even explained that the roads were always wide enough for at least two cars.
I went through the wringer more than once as a kid. Which reminds me – I really did go through the wringer. But that’s another memory.