GINGHAM DAYS GONE BY
I’VE BEEN MEANING TO WRITE MEMOIRS here for ages now it seems. I even made website Coming Soon‘s, promising a Memoirist Blog last year beginning with entries entitled Eegie and The Birthmarks (titled together they sound like the name of a pop-rock band). I wanted to at least autobiographically broaden the details in my AUTHOR ABOUT poem Where I’m From, Where I’ll Go: who are the Martha’s and Stevens’ — what are Eegie, Scudgy, and Grannyguts? Am I really a heritage of Hawaiian and Norwegian?
You’ve already met Granddaddy with Flag Day’s Granddaddy’s Flag. You’ve met Scudgy before too, more recently with TOWNSEND BROWNING: Susan Elizabeth Cornwall, about my aunt Susie. Eegie, as well, in this May’s Angelina, my sister-stamped-heart lyrical poem, published in the book Me, Myself, and I along with Granddaddy’s Flag. It was the Eegie Memoirist Blog entry in 2016 that caused delay. I intended a release on August 26th last year, her birthday, but grief stood in the way, and I published NECO instead. September slipped away, October was overlooked, and November was a nevermind. Then there was December 4th, her memorial day beginning in 2009 at 44 years, and grief greeted me once again with a block. I did send out a Christmas card and stamp of her dimpled smile that holiday. On May 12th I composed Angelina, crying through the whole of my lyrics, my poem, what ever you want to call my singsong style in such cases. For the record, I often call these particular creations poem-songs as there are melody and chorus my muses amuse me with while penning. All the same, the catharsis unblocked enough to make a first entry, finally — let me introduce the basics and the “birth-marked boy in arms,” the arms of one of the “Martha‘s,” my mother, Martha Rosemary.My mom had me in October 1967, a couple years after Eegie in 1965, on the ninth day, the same birthday as John Lennon (1940) and his son Sean (1975). Che Guevara was executed that day, I don’t know what time, but I arrived at 12:55 p.m. EST in Washington, D.C. at Providence Hospital, just in time for lunch, dressed in plum birthmarks all around my head. My father, Henry “Hank” or “Pineapple” Stevens Sorsdal, of both Hawaiian and Norwegian ancestry, is a Vietnam Navy SEAL.
The musical Hair opens off-Broadway, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book premieres, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album is in it’s fifteenth week at number one, The Letter by The Box Tops spends another week as a Billboard Hot 100 number-one song — and all are a part of “the dawning of the age of Aquarius” in October 1967.
Eegie was the big sister loving me, looking out for me, both having fun with and at the expense of me. She was a riot and did we laugh — at her too or at past-present-future us — and they were really big, belly laughs. Even at times when we were not allowed a childhood and later, as adult children of atrocity, we laughed in lean and lunatic times. Of all the human beings I’ve known in my 49 years, she is one of few that I can say was an embodiment of unconditional love, she never had to attain it. We had hard times with one another also, yet I can say it’s the love and understanding that remains, that I miss, that made it so difficult at first to relive for recording here in a blog. When you have survived monstrosity that no longer is, that is forgiven, the only people that can be there for you in times of the zombies zooming back, monsters in yourself or in moments that can never be forgotten however wide the heart, are the people that were there as victims too, that witnessed, and that know how to weaken the monster’s strangle, catching you in a loving embrace before you fall. I only had Angie to believe me (because she was there too) and to believe in me. Vice versa, Angie called me wherever I was, distraught by the hurt hardwired as a child, always saying, “You know…you know. You’re the only one I can talk to. You’re the only one that knows and understands.” Since her decline and death, I’ve had to learn to believe in myself and to let go of everyone that refused to believe in me, as a worthy human being and as writer. I hope to keep the focus on the love, the laughter, and the light, as she would have done.
Uncle Richard [the photographer – not pictured] and his wife aunt Judy (Julia Blake) Rasmussen were visiting with their daughter Nola and her fiancé Royce Watson in the gingham-ed photographs. Richard is my maternal grandmother Frances’ brother. I don’t know if Angie and I named aunt Judy “Judy” because we couldn’t say Julie or Julia. I know with aunt Susie, we did nickname her Scudgy, not being able to say Susie yet. Though my great uncle and aunt, maternal great-grandmother Myrta, or white-haired-grandma as we called her, and cousins in general, are not specifically mentioned in Where I’m From, Where I’ll Go, they do figure in my memoirs, in the story of me that I’ll share going forward.
Below, your author from gingham days gone by, a peekaboo future ahead, a game of both boons and banes.