Monday, May 10, 2021

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1769 - Memories are so powerful

  It was 74 years ago. I wish I had not done what I did. Every time I think about it, I squinch up inside. Even after so many years. Memories are so powerful.

  It was the first day of school. I was supposed to go into the primer classroom. My oldest brother, Sam Arthur Sanders, had been to primer and was now going on to the first grade. I did him very wrong. I know before I share this experience that most will not see the wrong. However, I remember the wrong I did and squinch up inside more than seven decades later. Memories are so powerful.

  As a child, I was extremely shy and terribly mean. And I was determined to have my way. In the process, I did my brother Sam wrong. I also did my teachers, my school, and others wrong. Memories are so powerful.

  It happened at Vaughn Junior High School in Stockton, Alabama. We lived in Blackshear, Alabama and rode the school bus to and from Stockton each weekday. I was five years old at the time. That first day of school, I was supposed to go into Mrs. Emma Washington’s classroom. She was the primer class teacher. My brother Sam went into the first-grade classroom. I followed him. The teacher tried to stop me, but I kept following Sam, my older brother. They tried but they could not stop me. I kept going and sat in the chair next to Sam. Memories are so powerful.

  The female teacher eventually sent for two male teachers to remove me. I hung on desperately to two chairs. They could not remove me. They eventually gave up. The teacher told them to let me stay for a day or two so I could adjust and it would be easier to get me to go to the primer classroom. I heard all this, but I had other ideas. Memories are so powerful.

  Several days later, the male teachers tried again to remove me. I refused to be moved. They could not disentangle me from the classroom chairs. I was absolutely determined. They finally decided to wait a few more days. But more days did not make a difference. I would not be moved. I was never moved to primer class. Memories are so powerful.

  It took me years before I realized I was wrong on that first day of school and every day thereafter. I did not realize I was doing my brother wrong. I did not realize that I was doing my teachers wrong. I did not realize I was doing my school wrong. I thought I was right when I was wrong. I especially wronged my brother Sam. Memories are so powerful.

  Sam and I remained in the same grade from the first through the twelfth grade. Sam was a year and five months older than I. Sam was young, but I was younger. Sam was a good size, but I was bigger. Sam made good grades, but I made better grades. Sam could run fast, but I could run faster. I did not understand that just being in the same classroom deprived my brother Sam of his moment in the sun. Sam had followed the rules and served his primer year. I refused to serve my primer year. Here I was taking something away from my oldest brother. Memories are so powerful.

  My brother Sam never complained. He went about his school business. He went about his play business. He went about his home business. He went about his other business. I do not recall Sam exhibiting a need to compete with me. On the other hand, I competed with him and everyone else including my teachers. I was very difficult and extremely hard to handle. I did my brother Sam wrong. Memories are so powerful.

  I did my teachers wrong. I had serious conflicts with a number of them. I even hit one teacher, Mrs. Hester, in the stomach. My punishment was to stand in a corner on one foot at a time for a week. If I did today what I did seventy some years ago, I would not just have been put out of school but put in jail. I gave my teachers a hard time. I gave so many a hard time. Memories are so powerful.

  I gave my mother, Ola Mae Sanders, a real hard time. In fact, I gave her the hardest time of all. But she loved me anyway. She even grew to be proud of me. I am glad I could make my mother proud of me. That means so much because I did her so wrong. Memories are so powerful.

  Sam did well in life. He has a good wife. He has a good family. He had a good job. He retired many years ago. They have a beautiful home. He struggles with a serious illness and has to have dialysis three times a week. Both he and his wife Ella look forward to me and Faya visiting occasionally. In fact, there are few places my wife Faya Rose would rather go on special days such as her birthday and anniversary than visit Sam and Ella. Memories are so powerful.

  My mother has passed on. I am sure all my teachers have passed on. However, my brother Sam is still living. His 80th birthday is this month. I am going to do what I should have done decades ago: apologize. “Sam, I am sorry for the wrong I did to you so many years ago. I love you, Sam, and I know you love me. I thank you for being the brother you have been for 78 and ½ years.” Memories are so powerful.

EPILOGUE – Memories are always lurking. They can lurk for years and then suddenly burst forth in the unlikeliest moment. Memories are powerful when they lurk. Memories are more powerful when they burst forth. Memories are so powerful.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represented District 23 in the Alabama Senate from 1983 to 2018.

No comments:

Post a Comment