1. A dentist’s chair. Though the details are murky, in my mind I woke up one morning to find a dentist’s chair sitting in the middle of the living room. It was a monstrosity – made of brown leather and heavy metal. I remember it feeling distinctly male and a bit foreboding, but full of wonderful promise. We crawled all over it like it was a piece of playground equipment, eventually playing the predictable game of dentist, pinning napkins around our necks and lowering and raising the chair haphazardly. We branched out and played the more sophisticated game of orthodontist – occupation information brought to us by the neighbor girl and her recent installment of headgear. Over the following days, we played hairstylist, doctor and nursing home. I believe it was even used as a living room recliner. And then one day it was gone.
2. Baby pigs. I woke one morning to hear high-pitched squealing. Initially my brain told me there were parrots in the house. Upon further investigation I found my mother on the floor in our one bathroom surrounded by tiny piglets. They oinked and squealed around her as she tried fervently to keep them warm. They had been orphaned and throughout the day we fed them with tiny droppers, saying prayers that they would survive. Pigs are cute and lovable in small form and as children we cuddled them, willing them to live because death was just too morbid a thought for these creatures. But my mother held them and fed them, guessing at what to do in the days before internet, willing them to live so that they could grow and serve their purpose. Of course they were to be food and valuable protein at that. And so she stayed up all night, exhausted, feeding each piglet carefully with a dropper, keeping them warm until a point came in the small hours of the morning when she finally gave in and slept. When we woke, one of the pigs had died. After that the piglets were moved. Much later I remember there being three large pigs kept in the pen by the windmill. It was hard to believe these were the same ones who had started their lives in our bathroom.
3. A sister. Though it was technically not without warning to the adults around me, my sister arrived when I was three years old. She was born at home in my parent’s bed and was just suddenly there, where no one was before. Because of my age, this was largely a surprise to me and proved to be a bit jarring. A world that seemed to once focus only on my goals and accomplishments now became divided. Though this sounds jealous and predictable, I actually very much liked the new baby. My memories are slight from this time period but I do remember feeling protective. I also remember wanting to be physically close to the baby, partially out of love, but also to make sure others still noticed me. My sister stayed with us and our lives were never the same.