The memories come flooding back to me of life on the farm, more specifically of the time that I felt most safe: in my mother's arms, in a rocking chair, with the comforting smell of her Vita-Moist face lotion from Avon and the sound of the avocado green dishwasher humming in the background. Mom used to have to pull that dishwasher out and connect it to the sink to work with a big black hose. It was heavy.
She was a hard worker, my mom. She worked her 40 hours as a nurse, came home, raised kids, cleaned house, grew an acre’s worth of vegetables, organized the bills, took care of my grandparents’ needs, gave neighbors their insulin shots, cooked dinner, did laundry, made sure my dad was taken care of and gave us the love and affection we craved.
My mom, sitting there with me in the rocking chair watching Ralph Emory, Live at the Grand Ole Opry. Rocking me at 4 years old while I held onto Big Bird. Not the talking one with the cassette tape though. We were too poor for that. I made my Big Bird talk and say what I wanted him to say by moving his beak and imitating the voice I was so familiar with from PBS.
I slept with Big Bird by my side. My yellow confidant in the night, protecting me as the barrier to monsters on the left side of my bed. His round body reminded me of my Grandmother in a way. A symbol of maternal comforts. Soft, plush, protective - everything a child needs.
I don’t know where he is anymore. The 90’s came and we could suddenly afford to build a house. The avocado and gold trailer went away. A new more quiet dishwasher took up residence. And a big white satellite dish sprouted in our yard. Hillbilly decadence surrounded us then. But Big Bird began to fade into the background.
I think the last time I saw him might have been in the basement. I sniffed at him expecting to smell my mother’s Vita-Moist lotion once again, but instead his yellow fuzz had given way to mustiness. His outer layer had succumbed to patches of dirt and mold. Eventually he disappeared altogether as I moved 2,000 miles away from the safety net of the farm.
But now I crave that bird. That smell of lotion. The feeling of being held and rocked without the knowledge of the adult world and its many burdens. I long for the comfort of that barrier in my bed, not from monsters, but loneliness during these uncertain times. I long for that kind of security and love. I long for childhood peace.