I was only five when she was born. I’d just started school. Mom would read to me at night to get me to go to sleep. Sometimes she would lay down with me. Often, she’d be to sleep before I was.
Mom went into labor early. I’m not sure if I remember that or if I was told afterwards. Some of my memories are mixed up with the stories I was told and the confused perception of a five year old.
Grandma Anna, my dad’s mom came up to Virginia from North Carolina to take care of daddy and me.
I’m not sure when I knew something was wrong with Kimberly. I remember going to the hospital with daddy and grandma. We were taking the baby from on hospital to another. It’s 1970, no car seats, no seat belts. Grandma Anna held Kimberly in her arms. I remember asking to hold her and being told she was too fragile. That was the only time I saw my sister alive.
She only lived to be a month old. My parents carried her body to North Carolina for burial. I didn’t know that until I was grown. Can you imagine driving in a car four hours with the body of your baby in the backseat? I asked my mom how she did it? Her answer was the answer I’m sure women have given throughput history, ‘I just did what I had to do.’
I often think of my mom as weak. She catered to my dad. She listened to him, believed him and supported him. She was an old fashioned wife and mother. She worked outside the home but she never traveled far without me or daddy with her. But as I learn more of her story, I discover how strong she’s had to be.