Iowa Writes

CATHERINE ROSE
Memoir: An Excerpt


The Tribe
Those people across the street, a mother, father, two daughters and three sons, they were a family, and a big family, at that.  Even though when I was six, the father left, and everyone said it was a broken home, they were still a family.  The question was, were they my family? Well, that is where I wasn't so clear.  I knew it to be true.  I knew it, not only because that's what I was told, but also on occasion, I spent time with them.  I was included in some of their good times, some not-so-good times.  And then there were those times that I felt so uncomfortable.  I didn't feel I belonged.  I wanted too, but it just didn't feel like I belonged.  But then again, how could I?

The Tribe
Those people across the street, a mother, father, two daughters and three sons, they were a family, and a big family, at that.  Even though when I was six, the father left, and everyone said it was a broken home, they were still a family.  The question was, were they my family? Well, that is where I wasn't so clear.  I knew it to be true.  I knew it, not only because that's what I was told, but also on occasion, I spent time with them.  I was included in some of their good times, some not-so-good times.  And then there were those times that I felt so uncomfortable.  I didn't feel I belonged.  I wanted too, but it just didn't feel like I belonged.  But then again, how could I?

Those brothers and sisters of mine over there, born to the same mother and father, had the same big, black-brown eyes, dark, curly hair, oh yes, we all looked very much the same, the Italian heritage evident in all of us.  Living in that broken home was a very good-looking family. But from my vantage point, they didn't look broken.  They had everything; they had each other, and to me, that looked beautiful.  I had seen it, it was so beautiful, how things were supposed to be.  I had seen it, so many times in my dreams. I now know now, of course, they were only the dreams of a lost and lonely little girl.  But, at the time, all I wanted, besides eating my mother's spaghetti, was to be part of the family.  The family I dreamt about.  The dreams in which we were happy. We couldn't be anything else, we had each other.  Sundays were especially tough for me, they had each other, and they had spaghetti.  Many Sundays, I stood, my face pressed against the screen door, staring across the street, wishing I was sitting at that kitchen table with all of them, getting in trouble for laughing, and eating spaghetti.  I could run across the street in thirty seconds, I knew; I timed it.  And even though the house of that family was right there, it seemed so incredibly far—an unreachable far.

Oh it wasn't like I was the one who got a bad deal when my mother gave me to the lady across the street, at less than a year old.  As a child, though, it was hard to make sense of it.  It's true, I was their fifth child, I cried a lot; no really, from the stories, I cried way too much, too much for my father to take.  So my mother, extremely overwhelmed, what could she do, she had four other children, she had an angry husband, she had to save herself and her marriage.  She had no other choice, of course, and she gave me away.  The relief from getting rid of me didn't last very long, though.  A year later there was a sixth child, a girl, and as it turned out, my mother really hadn't saved anyone and definitely not her marriage.

Later, much later, I would come to realize, my mother had, without intention, or knowledge, saved me.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


CATHERINE ROSE

Catherine Rose couldn't figure out why her two BFFs moved to Iowa; first one, then the other.  Recently, she visited them in the Heartland and now she absolutely sort-of understands.  At (a young) 61, she has found true love with Hayden, Dylan, and Jordan, 8, 5, and 3 ¾; ahh, grandsons.

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