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The piano was fire-engine-red.
In my earliest memory, I recall our ‘family,’ poor and sitting with the
lights off in front of a television on a shabby, dark plaid 70’s-style
couch. My brother was barely an adolescent, and picked on me every chance
he got. Even when I was a little baby, he was mean. This time, he was
scaring me by making spooky sounds and hiding behind the couch.

The kitchen was back farther in the house. The memory of what it looked
like has been lost to me. All I remember is how I hated when she washed my
hair in the stainless steel sink. It was so loud.

I was afraid of the door to the upstairs stairwell. I screamed every time
it opened.

But that piano, a gorgeous, striking red, sat near the front door. My
mother played it by ear, humming, singing softly, and tapping out the
songs from the radio. I do not remember sad memories, the ones I hear
about, of her passed out on the sofa, leaving the door wide open, of me
wandering out onto the sidewalk. Naked. Til my father came home. Or of
them shouting on the front porch at each other in the house by the
railroad tracks. Of the stray cats she let wander in and out of our house.
None of them litter trained.

The television cable went out frequently, and we’d be left with snow. We
sat on the couch watching the snow on the television, silent.

This is the only memory I have of my mother before her death, or of family
before my father remarried when I was 3.

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