My father was a free spirit. My mother was too, in her younger days, I have been told. I had a wonderful, albeit unconventional childhood. My mother, however, lost her free spirit when I was born. Perhaps she knew I would be her only child or perhaps the reality of the responsibility of nurturing another individual was overwhelming. Perhaps it was the polio outbreak that brought out a new dimension of my mother’s personality. Whatever the cause, my mother’s fun loving personality was now replaced with worry — worry over germs, freak accidents and bad behavior (mine, not hers). Her worry over germs didn’t keep me from contracting everything contagious that childhood had to offer. Her worry over freak accidents made me try so hard to be careful and not get hurt that I was the clumsiest child in San Antonio. Her expectations of my behavior needn’t have been a concern at all because my mother had a magic weapon — guilt. Now, I was a very compassionate child that wouldn’t have hurt another person knowingly for any reason. That included my mother, yet her best parenting advice for anybody was “make her ashamed of herself” for whatever offense was commited whether it was stealing the tiny little padlock from Handy Andy when I was three or not wanting to dance with Charlotte at the dancing school Christmas party. I grew up thinking the worse thing I could do in life was be or do something shameful in my mother’s eyes. I still carry the guilt of all the things I could have done, should have done, shouldn’t have done — whatever. As as result, I am a sad person. Things have always made me sad. A good example is the 20 Mule Team Borax commercial that used to come on on Sunday nights sponsoring some show. I cried every week because, in my mind, those poor people didn’t have a home and that was a sad thing. Another example of my thought process involved a day out shopping. My mother was always proud of me because I never asked for anything or threw tantrums when we would go shopping and I would want something that I couldn’t have. I was a good girl. Well, I did slip every once in awhile. This one particular shopping trip we were looking at shoes. I wanted a new pair of sandals. I think Joy Lynn got sandals and I wanted some too. It wasn’t on the list for that day. I cried. I didn’t fuss, I just cried. Mother wasn’t pleased and told me so when we got home. I decided to run away, which meant going across the street to my aunt’s house and when I ran, I broke the sandals I already had. I was sure I was being punished for wanting the new ones. I still feel guilty over that.

So, can you imagine what happened to me when I went to the grocery store a couple of days ago and brought home the bag with THIS written on the side of it?

“I am a brown paper bag. More than likely, I’ll end up under your sink with a few of my friends. I might get cut up and wrapped around an old textbook, or just stuck under something messy. It would be nice if someone made me into a kite. I’d like to be a kite. But whatever happens, I will never forget the day I carried groceries home from Central Market”

If you need me you will probably find me in the yard flying a kite made from a brown paper bag as I shed tears for all the sad, sad paper bags in the world.

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