First Memory

The experts say children don't remember things that happen when they are less than 3 or 4. I know that is not true. My first memory was before I was 3, I couldn't even talk plain. Mom said I was about 2 at the time. This was in warm weather so I was probably about 2 and a half. I drowned a puppy! Now don't get all excited thinking I have serial killer tendencies! It was an accident.

We had a litter of little puppies that had just got their eyes open. Mom had a big, black, cast iron canner that she had set upon an overturned chair under the leak of the house to catch rain water. We had no indoor plumbing and all our water had to be carried from the spring under the hill or from the coal bank up the mountain so every drop of water we could catch off the roof meant one less trip to pack it. The day before this traumatic event I had watched mom give the new puppies a bath. I was playing out behind the house with the puppies. I decided to bath one of them. Shirley swears it was hers!

I had to stand on my tip toes to see over the rim of the canner. It was about half full of water. I chose the cute little black puppy and dropped him over in the tub. Well, he swam around and around and around and around, getting slower and slower. I instinctively knew he needed to be got out so I tried and tried to reach him but my little arm wasn't long enough. I knew nothing about death but I knew he was in trouble. I can still see him in my mind swimming and then slowly sinking. I ran to get mommy then.

I ran in the house and tugged on her and she said all I could say was “mon, mon” for come on, come on. I took he finger and lead her around the back of the house to the tub but it was to late. The puppy was dead. I never will forget what she said “ well Glenna you've drownded the poor little thing”. I am in my 60's now and I never have forgotten the little puppy. This was my first experience with death. Being a child on a farm I saw animals slaughtered for food, chickens necks rung and hog killings, but these are vague memories. The puppy's demise is vivid and unfading. Perhaps that is because I was the cause, perhaps because it was the first experience with death, perhaps because I could hear the disappointment in moms voice, perhaps because God has given us an instinct that killing is bad and death is permanent. Most likely, because of all these things my memory is stamped forever with those desperate, sad puppy eyes!

Glenna Combs