I was born the sixth child of a large family. While I know for a time, we subsisted in an army tent in the back pasture of a Maine farmhouse; my earliest memories come after; when we lived in a home my family over fifty years later still refers to as “The little house”. Amongst siblings, I, then youngest, would be viewed as lucky, even spoiled, for I alone was not subject to the necessity of sharing a bed. Admittedly, I was not conscious as to why this circumstance should cause discontent. Perhaps due to my shared inhabitance of an old metal crib, where in resided a stuffed tiger for whom consanguinity had been assumed! In the confined space of this iron clad hearth, a deep affinity had developed with this tattered amalgamation of cloth and button; one preempting other memory and fated to exist in perpetuity.
The home in which we lived sported convenient facilities. For nighttime, a rose bowl in a doorless curtained closet just off the bedroom, and for daytime an easily accessible outhouse a short jaunt across the yard. A large metal washtub appeared weekly in the kitchen where my siblings and I lined up to bathe. It should come as no surprise I grew up an extreme introvert, whose deepest desire was one of solitude. Necessity would dictate these circumstances continue to languish well into my seventh year of life. And so, each night I would withdraw into the familiar confines of the crib and the companionship of my dearest and closest friend “Tig”.
That year my family having grown by one sibling and doing a bit better financially, would finally move to a larger home. In so doing I would suffer two losses. The crib that had become my sanctuary and Tig. Not until years later would my mother tell me he did not really get lost in the move, but that she had thrown him out.
The first few years in the new home while surrounded by loved ones, were filled with loneliness. My overly active imagination had turned inwards, no longer focused on magical adventures but instead on what lurked unseen in the shadows. While I would outgrow the affliction of night terrors, it would by no means be remembered as a happy time in my childhood. The adult world would offer no respite for my experiences in the Military and Law Enforcement only furthered life’s attempt to imbue me with the cynicism all too often borne of necessity.
Twenty years passed since Tig had been reduced to a fond memory when by chance I came across the Calvin and Hobbes comic. I first noticed it when out of the corner of my eye the image of Hobbes caught my attention. As he came into focus so too did cascading reflections of days long past when I had nothing, and at the same time had everything. In that instant my friend returned home and the innocence I believed forever lost was, if only for a short time, restored. Each frame I viewed provided a portal through time, setting aside the shadow of cynicism and allowing a vision of my protector, my companion, my friend. Once read, as with the memory of my childhood I would walk away with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.