I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After I was born, my parents gave me to my aunt, grandmother, and uncle to raise me until I was out of diapers, and old enough to do things for myself.
I was 5 ½ years old when I moved in with my parents. They weren’t parents with common sense. My mother always made me clean the house from top to bottom, while she sat down on the sofa in the living room watching soap operas, and drinking Kool Aid.
Housework was her responsibility, not mind. I was just a little girl at the time whose primary and only responsibility was to be a kid.
Back when I was living with my aunt, grandmother, and uncle, I could be just a kid. My brothers and I would play outside at night trying to catch lightening bugs. We were fascinated by them, and tried to figure out how their bellies lit up. I thought it was magic, at the time, like things seen in the Disney cartoon of Peter Pan.
It the fall, I always like collecting the chest nuts that fell to the ground. I opened them up, because I was curious what they looked like. My aunt told me not to eat them, because they were food for the squirrels.
One day, I attempted to feed a squirrel the chestnuts I took out of the shell. My aunt pulled me away from them, saying, “Stay away from them. Don’t get close, because they can bite you. If they bite you, then you’ll have to get painful shots in your tummy, because of rabies.”
I toss them to the ground a little further away from the squirrel, and watched him rush over to the pieces of chestnut, stuff them into his mouth, and chew vigorously.
During the spring time, the air smelled so sweet, with everything coming into bloom.
At my parent’s house, I liked to go into the garden to smell the beautiful flowers coming into bloom that my great-grandfather planted. I didn’t dare pick any, because I didn’t want to kill the plants.
I liked to watch my great-grandfather work in the garden, as he lovingly watered the plants and shrubbery. It was the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood. I thought it was the most beautiful in the entire Kalamazoo area, and within our church community.
It the fall, my dad would rake the leaves with my great-grandfather. My brothers and I enjoyed jumping into the piles of leaves, smelling their musky scent.
We often collected the leaves from the ground, and make necklaces and bracelets out of them. I admired the beautiful reds, orange, and gold they transformed into.
In the summer time, my great-grandfather drove my mother, brothers and me to the Kalamazoo County Fair. He liked to ride the Ferris wheel. I remember the very first time I ever rode one. I was 7 years old. I rode it with my great-grandfather. I thought it was exciting to be risen up into the air. I could see the entire area of the fairgrounds.
My mother took my brothers to ride the Merry-Go-Round. My great-grandfather and I met them at the pizza stand.
I had sausage pizza for the first time. Although it was a bit spicy compared to anything I’d ever eaten before, I thought it was a special treat, because it was so flavorful.
© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015