Frances, 1/18/89, Council, Idaho
My Darling Children,
Woke from this dream fifteen minutes after noon – didn’t get to sleep last night until almost daybreak.
Timothy and I are living in a small cabin up in the Idaho woods; it sets back from the road a little by itself, other buildings are around a hundred yards farther back. Two rooms. The front room has white walls like our apartment in Council but a beautiful old built-in bookcase, dark brown. No books. There is nothing in the cabin but a bed, and that is in the front room. The kitchen is in the back. We are getting low on money and Tim says he could drive back and forth to town – which seems to be some distance away – and work, try to get a job. I tell him No, we’ll get money. I don’t know how, and I am a little worried about it too. At first we are alone and then I discover that we have a beautiful little baby who looks a lot like Alex. He is about a year old. I walk by the bed to the kitchen and I see the baby in the bed. He is naked, not smiling, I think he just woke. I pick him up. “Oh my baby, I forgot my baby.”
Switch. We are in the yard, people are around, women and some kids playing by the other houses. A woman comes up to me, grabs me, tickles me. “Don’t tickle me or I’ll punch you!” I yell.
“I wouldn’t have done that before I got so hip,” she says, in a friendly manner, but she is somehow weird. She points to a ten year old boy. “Doesn’t he look like Timothy? He looks a lot like Timothy. He’s the son of [can’t remember the name] who lives down in [can’t remember the name].
I say, “Oh, that’s my uncle Rheub’s great grandson!”
Switch. We go back in the house and another small child is there, our other baby. The babies seem to be almost the same age, look a lot alike, and are both naked. “Oh, I forgot I had another baby. Oh Oh!” I pick them both up, one at a time, and hug them. I love these babies very much and am distressed that I forgot about them, forgot that I even had them.
Switch. Timothy and I are in town, driving around, trying to find an address. Debbie jumps onto the running board, the old funny happy Debbie. She says, “I’ll help you look.” We go pretty fast, her clinging to the open window on Timothy’s side of the car; he is driving. Suddenly I freak out, “We have to go home! I forgot my babies. I left my babies all alone at home. Oh my God!” I imagine they have gotten hurt or have been taken away by the welfare department or the police or something. I imagine they are in there alone, crying. It is really terrible. “My poor babies, how could I forget my poor babies?” I had forgotten they were there and that they even existed. I wake up.
I have been thinking about my kids a lot lately, about when they were small, about what a hard life they had. It didn’t seem so bad to me then, but I must have been in some kind of a daze. The girls, especially, tell me of having a bad childhood. I wish I could do it all over again, but I can’t. And I wouldn’t know what I know now. That’s the thing. I didn’t know what to do. I guess I was just stupid. Selfish. Oh my babies, my poor babies, I love you so. I always did love you so much, always wanted you. But the main thing wrong was we were so poor and I didn’t know how to handle it right. I was just young and stupid. We lived day by day, barely making it. Not that we starved, but we were always in danger of having the utilities turned off and being kicked out of our house, no money for good clothes, no money for anything extra. Yet I managed to go to college when that was all going on. I should have taken my kids and gone off somewhere alone and stayed home and raised them. But I didn’t. I was bad and I regret it. Forgive me, my darling children, I love you more than anything in the whole world, I always have.
Four days without doing writing exercises; Dorothea Brandt has a good plan. I am bad at planning for the future, no discipline. That’s why I’m not a great violinist, or pianist, or writer. I’m lazy and prone to pleasure of the moment instead of planning for the future.