Just to make sure we are all on the same page, this story that I am about to share is still coming from the eyes and memory of a 5-year-old. What was about to take place in our home seemed to be in slow motion, at least for me. Now, my birthday is in September, so it was either the winter of 1967 or early 1968.
Remember when I talked about impact memory in my first post? Well, I am about to share one with you how I remember the day that changed my family forever. I remember playing with two of my brothers when we heard voices coming from outside our bedrooms. The voices did not sound familiar at all.
It wasn’t our dad’s because he worked during the day driving a truck, and I know it wasn’t our mom because she was out and my oldest sister was watching us again. So I opened the door just a crack and called out my sister’s name, but she didn’t answer me. That’s when I started to hear her crying and a strange voice that didn’t sound like my mother’s telling her that it’s ok.
When I stepped all the way out I could see police officers inside our apartment standing by the door that was open and some were standing by the living room and hallway. One cop walked towards me with a smile on his face as he squatted down to my height and asked me my name. I remember him out of all the cops there because he was the biggest one and he was laughing with another cop right before he saw me.
He gave me short little waves with his hand while making funny faces. He took off his hat and put it on my head and gave that big smile again. Do you know what I remember next? The feeling of my face pulling back… I was smiling… isn’t that crazy? I can still feel my face stretching as I type this.
The next thing I heard was my sister crying from inside the living room again, so I walked toward her and saw a strange woman with light hair wearing a long tan coat asking if she knew where my parents were. Why would anybody be asking that? The woman then turned her head to me, walked over to where I was standing and asked me the same question.
I didn’t like her at all. She wasn’t smiling like the cop that gave me his hat. She just looked like she was mad at me or something. I don’t remember what I said. All I wanted to do was go to my sister, but couldn’t see her because there were so many people standing around in the living room blocking my view.
I could hear the big cop telling others by the door to go downstairs. I remember that so clearly in my mind even now as I tell it. The woman then asked me where the rest of my brothers and sisters were. I just looked up at her and didn’t say anything. In my mind, I thought if I told her, she was going to have the cops lock them up.
She asked again, this time bending down touching my face and telling me that everything was going to be fine. All of a sudden, I hear the cries of my brothers screaming so loud I wet myself… now I was scared. I was afraid they were taking us away and my parents weren’t there to stop them. I will never forget the look on my sister’s face as she stood in the living room by the window, wearing her yellow pajama dress she always wore.
Both our eyes met, and the look on her face will stay with me forever. Her eyes widened like a cat, and she wasn’t looking at me at all. She was looking over me, and that’s when it happened. My brothers started screaming like someone was hitting them, but no one was. I saw the cops pick up my younger brothers in their arms and held them as they walked out of our apartment.
I was being lifted up also, but I don’t remember crying, and I ‘m not going to make it up and say that I did because I really don’t remember. The last memory I had that day was looking at our apartment building as we were being driven away in a green van with my other brothers and sisters wondering where we were going….