~A memoir from childhood

I was forgotten once.

I attended the public school when I was young even though I was Catholic. When it came time to make my first confession, which was a scary enough proposition in itself, I had to go to the local church. I was in the second grade.

My mother didn’t drive, and was largely confined to the house because of my disabled sister Annie. Mom had arranged for me to walk to church with a couple of older girls who lived about three blocks away and attended the Catholic school. I had met them, but I didn’t know them well.  Shellenbergers. It’s interesting the things we remember.

Things were different in those days. It wasn’t out of the ordinary that I would walk somewhere at a young age. We walked to school and back every day, but I had never walked to church.

On the morning of my first confession, I walked the three blocks, then up the steep steps to the Shellenbergers’ house. I crossed the covered porch and knocked. After what seemed like an eternity the mother answered the door. “I’m sorry,” she said. “They already left. If you hurry you might be able to catch up to them.”

Hurry I did. I was terrified. I didn’t know how to get where I was going. I ran down the steps and turned the corner to Roosevelt Street where I could just barely make out the other girls in the distance. I did what I usually did when I was scared, upset, or sad. I started crying.

I followed the girls from a distance. I couldn’t catch up and stumbled along behind. I was now crying profusely.

From my vantage point I saw where they turned a corner. I followed and  made it to my destination. The nun who met me at the church door took one look at my red blotchy face and wanted to know what was wrong. She led me through a door and down a quiet hall to a room where I could regain my composure. My first confession was anti-climatic after that. Facing a priest behind a screen in a small darkened room and telling him all the sins I had committed was nothing compared to the trauma I had experienced getting there.

To this day I don’t know why I became as upset as I did following those girls to the church. Although I tried to deny it to myself, in part I felt that my mother had let me down. I was alone; I didn’t know where I was going; and she was supposed to be taking care of me. Like other thoughts I’d had before and would have through the following years, that led immediately to guilt. Mom had to stay home to take care of Annie. She shouldn’t have to worry about me.

Maybe I felt sad that those people Mom trusted to help me let her down as well.  Maybe I was just sad that I had been forgotten.

I was only seven.








13 thoughts on “Forgotten”

  1. Your story touched me. I felt your sadness and being terrified. I felt your pain. I wonder how our experiences touch our lives moving forward? The mind is such a superpower woven with so many emotions.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Mari. I really do like it when people add to my posts with their own thoughts and perspectives. I don’t have the answer to your rhetorical question either, but I know that our experiences can, and probably do, have a lasting effect. I remembered the incident. I agree. There is a lot of stuff stored up inside our heads. Sometimes something I don’t even realize I have stored as a memory, pops into my conscious mind and surprises me.

  2. I bet you were scared to death – and you’re still remembering that moment of fright! Your mother, I’m sure, was upset later after you told her. Or else she just waved it off as a typical kid thing. As you write, she was focusing on Annie. You were also really worried about missing confession and all that meant. Great blog post!


    Jeffrey Hillard Associate Professor of English MSJU Dept. of English and Modern Languages & Writer-in-Residence/Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (2015-2016)


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jeff. It’s always good to hear from you. I suspect my mother was upset. Unfortunately, her reaction to the incident was not part of the memory that my brain chose to save. I wish I could ask her about it now.

    1. Yes. On the other end of the scale, as a mother, I can attest to the truth of your statement. All we can do is our best at the time. Thanks for commenting. I was thinking about you this morning, and how lucky I was that this is the type of “trauma” I had to deal with as a child. Many other children dealt with, and continue to deal with, so much worse, as you know. Hugs to the child in you.

      1. We, each, have our “stuff” I always say!l. I think it was Plato who said “if all of humanity’s troubles were placed in a heap, each would be content to take his own and depart.”

    1. You’re too good at this, William. Where do you find the time? I’ve been a slacker, but hope to visit more regularly soon. I hope you are doing well.

  3. Interesting! In a family of 9 kids with a set of twins older and a set of twins younger I had that same forgotten experience! God rescued me from forgotteness and has blessed me with an increditable peace with His presence. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life that so matched my own story!

    Sent from my iPad



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