My mother stopped collecting things about me when I reached grammar school, about the same time Daddy left. There might be a book of school pictures somewhere, but I can’t recall where. Mama didn’t collect photo albums or even pictures for that matter.
She always said, “What’s past is past and we shouldn’t dwell on it.” The problem was she didn’t dwell on anything. I always thought she never had time for keeping scrapbooks, always working two or three jobs to support us.
Once, I came home with a blue ribbon from school earning first prize in a spelling bee in the third grade. I was so proud. The next morning the ribbon was in the trash. Why didn’t she love me? What did I do wrong? Wasn't she proud of me? It hurt me very much. I can still feel the blow today, as if she hit me in the stomach whenever I think of it. She wasn’t a perfectionist. She just didn’t care.
I tried to be a good daughter and make her proud, but it didn’t matter what I did. I was a burden—a chore that she didn’t need around. I used to think she was mad at me for making Daddy leave. Maybe it was my fault. Now, I use that first place ribbon as a bookmark, reminding myself that I am someone.