Friday, September 21, 2012

Saying Sorry

It's the "saying sorry" time of year, and I want to apologize to my parents, a"h.  Too late?  I know we are all thinking of things we did in the past year, but I'm talking right now aobut things I did over 50 years ago.

I was a pretty terrible little kid.  Just ask my sisters and basically anyone who knew me from ages 3-17 or so.  I gave my parents some serious heartache because I had a vicious temper, was incredibly stubborn, and just plain old wanted attention.  That part of my life involved the following, among many other incidents:
  • Breaking a fancy dining room chair during a tamtrum (4 years old)
  • Making my parents come upstairs from their store (we lived above their butcher shop) because I was screaming so loud (MANY times during this period).
  • Causing our wonderful, kind, loving housekeeper Milly to send me outside onto the porch because she couldn't take my screaming and crying.
  • Refusing to go to the bathroom when I needed to (let's not discuss this any further, ok?).
  • When I was about 15, joining the Jewish Defense League and scaring my parents half to death (well, my mother; my father thought it was kind of cool).
So that's just a sampling of what I was like - I'm sure some psychologist somewhere would have had a field day (and made a fortune) if I'd been a patient but in those days parents didn't rush to the doctor each time their kid had a tantrum. It was more like, "She's a difficult child, she'll straighten out."

And guess what? In the end, I straightened out (sorta, I still have a temper and am VERY stubborn, just ask my family). 

But, you see, the reputation stays with you and when you get together with your siblings, relatives, and friends from the old days, it is a topic of conversation.  That's how I can tell that my (former) personality really affected everyone around me.  I don't blame them for talking about it - they were traumatized by me!

So, I would like to apologize to my parents, sisters, and anyone else whose life became a misery because of me.  But especially to my parents, who unfortunately are no longer here to read this. 

I am bringing this up because while I was in Baltimore, my sisters and I spent some wonderful hours with friends from the "old neighborhood."  We all grew up in Pimlico, which was, in the 1950s, a bastion of Jewish life, full of shuls, groceries, community life, and good public schools.  In those days the JCC Park Heights was our hangout and we walked there daily in the summer to swim and eat our first-ever restaurant-quality french fries (I still remember the smell of chlorine mixed with fried food, since the JCC cafeteria was on the same floor as the pool).  The JCC was also just about the end of the earth for us - people who lived in the Glen Avenue area were in "the suburbs."

So we met our friends, Eunice and Adrian (ha! Eunie and Addie, I bet you didn't think you were getting a shout out but here it is!) and laughed for about 2 hours while we remembered our life on West Garrison Avenue.  Mind you, today I would not even drive close to that street without feeling terrified.

Eunice and Adrian lived up the street and we three girls spent lots of time with them. I remember thier parenets fondly, their house, and running up the street to see them.  Their father worked for the Hendler Ice Cream company and I remember thinking that I wish MY father worked for an ice cream company instead of having a butcher shop!  I mean in my mind I imagined Mr. Mervis coming home every day with vats and vats of ice cream, whereas my parents came home with sawdust in their hair.  I mean, really, ice cream every day as opposed to looking at raw meat and chicken! 

Of course, during the conversation, the subject of my childhood behavior reared its ugly head.  And I felt sad, really sad, that I had caused so many people such pain.  I know I can't ever undo what I did, and I can not really, truly, tell my parents how badly I feel for giving them such tzoris. 

I know, I know, I kind of made up for my badness with some goodness when I got older, but still, one hates to think that one caused pain to anyone, especially one's parents.

So, Mom and Dad, I'm really, truly sorry to have made life so tough for you.  And thanks for never giving up on me.

Oh - and I can see you two right now.  Mommy is saying "Oh, she wasn't that bad," and Daddy is looking at her like, "What?  Yes she was!" 


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