My Brain

from Pieces of my Mind/ My Body in Parts aka My Life in Pieces

My first contact, my brain’s first contact, with reality happened when I was six months old.[1]

Victor and his sister Marg 1968

My Mother left me in a large brown baggy buggy with big wheels and no brakes. The weather was fine, and I was sleeping, so she filled a pail of water from the kitchen pump and hurried out to wash her new Studebaker. My father was in his garden.

Sometime later, likely five or ten minutes, I woke. I tried to pull myself up and started shaking the pram. The pram was left in front of the door to the basement which was left open. I was rocking this pram, and it rolled toward the basement door, likely a few inches, and then, gathering speed, began its descent. It didn’t get far.

My pram’s wheels caught on the first two stairs pitching me forward and with gravity’s assistance to the bottom of the stairs which ended a step short of a brick and mortar wall. My mother always hated the old house because none of the floors were straight and cited this as a likely factor in the pram’s rolling to the stairs. Following my launch, my face from my forehead to my mouth made hard contact with the brick wall. I have no first hand memory of this, some indication I was not yet three, and I was never in a pram after 18 months and walking. The confirmation comes from my sister.

“I remember this very clearly. Mother had sent me to the Co-op to get something, and said to take you in the pram for an airing. Wasn’t long before I was on Main Street and a group of boys looked in the pram and began to tease me about your face, and how it could be so black and blue.”  While this comment had been tolerated by mother from her loudest older brother, my sister did not take kindly to this taunting.

“I stepped forward and punched the biggest one of them hard in the face. I didn’t break his nose, but it was bleeding and soon he had a shiner to explain. Hard to admit he had been bested by a girl. As far as I can remember it’s the only time I ever punched anybody.”

My sister barely 11, was rarely bothered again. It’s likely that a baby’s six-month-old brain has more resilience than mine has today, or so my mother must have thought. There was no trip to the doctor or check for a concussion. My flight into our basement brick wall was one of the earliest stories told to me to remember from my infancy; and in the original telling she did say I was six months old. It was also when I started living under my sister’s protection, until I was six when she left for the city.

[1] Mother’s revisionist memoirs posit my age as 3 years for this accident, ridiculous considering I wouldn’t have even fit in the pram and would’ve been walking for 2 years.






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