Today’s Writing 101 Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
Childhood is fleeting. At the time it seems interminable. As kids we often spend time waiting for things to happen. Waiting to be able to play with friends. Waiting for our parents to spend time with us, answer our questions, take us somewhere, answer our questions, play a game with us, answer our questions, get us a snack, answer our questions, pick us up, oh man why can’t they just answer our questions? We just want to know why… We wait to grow taller, be able to do more things when we’re bigger, be in charge of something. So many things to wait for. Everything takes so long to happen.
As adults we don’t remember all that time spent waiting. We remember snippets of experiences, trips, time spent playing with friends and perhaps favoured toys. These memories are sometimes easy to recall and at other times they rise up, unbidden from our memory banks. Sometimes the memory is triggered by a smell or a song or just because we are doing or talking about something related. I, for example think about my little red portable record player every time I hear “Electric Avenue” by Eddie Grant. This was my favourite ’45 as a kid and as I’m sure my parents can tell you, I played it somewhat frequently as a kid.
One of my childhood memories is tied to a fantastic gift that I received from my uncle. I’m not sure how old I was at the time. I think maybe four or five years old. He gave me this amazing red firefighter’s helmet. Really who doesn’t want to be a firefighter at some point when they are a kid. This helmet wasn’t just shiny and red, it also had a flashing light and siren mounted on top. I can picture this helmet so clearly even now, more than 30 years later. This helmet empowered me to be both a fireman and a firetruck at the same time.
Sadly, this helmet disappeared after a relatively short period of time. Apparently I used it so much that my parents had to take it to get the batteries fixed. I guess they wore out or broke or something. It seems that the battery store didn’t have the necessary parts to get it back into working order, or maybe the store went out of business or something because I never saw the helmet again, except in my dreams. Memories of this helmet come to me sometimes, often unbidden. Pretty well anytime I see a red firefighter helmet I briefly think of my lost one. I’ve never seen another like mine.
Now that I am a parent I suspect that my parents’ explanation for the disappearance of this treasured item may not have been entirely truthful. I think it is possible that they may have tired of always having to move to the right whenever I passed by with my siren on. Maybe they kept thinking that our house was on fire due to the frequency of siren’s passing through. It is also remotely possible that they found the siren to be annoying.
Perhaps they didn’t realize just how important this helmet was to me when they took it to get “fixed.” Around here that means tossed in the garbage or perhaps taken to an empty lot and taught a lesson with a sledgehammer. I’m sure that my parents didn’t mean to crush the hopes and dreams of a little boy and that they thought that they were only doing what was best for their own sanity.
That helmet, and perhaps my lego, matchbox cars and a few others things meant the world to me. It was my best toy ever and my desire for that martyred helmet has only gotten stronger over the years. In some seconds, thoughts of that helmet consume me. I wonder what happened to it. Did my dad keep it in the car and roll down the window and put it on whenever he needed to get to work faster? Did my mum wear it to school to make her passage through the hallways easier? Maybe she forced teens, who tried to read MacBeth with a fake Scottish accent, to wear it with the light flashing and siren wailing as a cautionary tale for other kids. That helmet could have lived so many lives without me. It makes me sad that I’ll never know its true path.
Fortunately I’m older now and handy with the scissors and crayons. Plus I am in charge and can do and have whatever I want. So since I want my helmet back, I put in the effort and have recreated that greatest of all uncle gifts for my personal pleasure.
This is one of my pieces for the WordPress Writing 101 workshop and I welcome any critiques you might offer about the writing in this post.