I realize I was a person before my first memory, when I was 2 years of age, but because I don’t remember it, there’s not a lot I can tell you. I was born at Santa Monica Hospital on March 16, 1957 … the same year that the space race began (6 months later) with the launch of Sputnik I. (Coincidence? I think not.)
My mom had met my dad at Seattle Pacific University. They fell in love, got married, and she got pregnant with me shortly thereafter. Sadly, they both dropped out of SPU and headed to Santa Monica, California to be near my mom’s family. (I’d like to think I wasn’t responsible for them dropping out, but I’m not so sure.)
On the way there, my mom says she almost lost me. They moved during Thanksgiving break and they stopped at some roadside diner for a turkey dinner. The turkey and dressing tasted funny, and apparently my dad wouldn’t eat it, but my mom was famished. Shortly after, she came down with food poisoning and was desperately sick. She said she was very fearful I wouldn’t survive the illness.
Perhaps that’s why, to this day, I’m not crazy about turkey?
Anyway, we all eventually made it to Santa Monica successfully, where I was born the following March. I was told I made a splash at my birth, when a nurse who was using me to demonstrate how to change a diaper didn’t quite cover things up properly, and I apparently doused her right into her face, I’m sure to the enjoyment of all those watching.
The only other thing I’ve been told about my early years, which I also don’t remember, is that I was presented to Mamie Eisenhower when I was about 1. Her husband had already passed away but she was still a political force to be reckoned with in Washington DC. My parents visited there when Congress awarded my mom’s father, Dudley Kalloch, with a medal of honor for the role he played in helping save the eyesight of thousands of children in Armenian refugee camps in Turkey after World War I. (Perhaps another reason I’m not crazy about Turkey … my grandmother and my oldest aunt narrowly survived a devastating earthquake while they were living there. I’ve seen photos of their brick house which they had walked out of just moments before the earthquake struck, collapsed in a heap of rubble. Had they been victims, I obviously wouldn’t be here today.) Anyway, my grandfather, who was a talented medical doctor who later became head physician at the Veteran’s Hospital in Santa Monica, developed and implemented a treatment for Trachoma, which had had a devastating impact among children in the camps. My grandfather was a smart guy … in some ways. More about that later.
My mom told me that Mrs. Eisenhower asked to hold me, and she then told my parents I was the cutest baby she had ever seen. Since that couldn’t possibly be objectively true, I’ve surmised that she probably said this to all new parents to win their confidence. Gotta love politicians.
So, by now you’re probably wondering what my first amazing memory was, when I was 2 years old? We were walking in the grocery store, and turning a corner. I have a distinct memory of looking up at the shelves of groceries, looming very tall over me. That’s it. That’s my first memory. Anticlimactic, I know.
My second and third memories (when I was about 3) are a little more vivid, because they are associated with discomfort and embarrassment. I know I was very young, because I was very short. We lived in a rented home in Santa Monica. I was playing in the front yard, and realized I suddenly and very desperately needed to use the toilet. We’re talking number two here, folks. I tried desperately to reach the knob on the front door, but I was too short. I remember pounding on the door, I’m sure I was shrieking as well. My mom finally came to the door. Too late.
My third memory takes place in my grandma’s back yard. She had an old ping-pong table. I saw it many years later, decrepit and full of splinters, and it was quite low to the ground. But in my third memory, I ran into the edge of this table and created a nice gash on my forehead. Once again, too short.
Fortunately, I grew taller! I’ve always thought, had I really been a very short person, I would have had a lot more trouble in school, given my last name. My grandpa (my dad’s father) was a short man, with the last name of Short, and I don’t think education went quite so well for him as it did for me.
My next memories are of beginning kindergarten, at Light and Life private Christian School. I remember the first day, because some children were crying and it was a little frightening. But I do think I enjoyed kindergarten and did well at it. I’ll fast forward (for the sake of an interesting story, which relates to kindergarten but takes place in college) then return in my next blog post to my next few memories, and to the spiritual underpinnings of my life.
Fast forward 13 or 14 years: I’m a sophomore at Biola University, living in a dorm that looks out over the field of what was at the time a junior high school. One night I had a very vivid dream that two planes had collided and debris was raining down over that field. Young children were running, and screaming. It was then that I realized the venue wasn’t the junior high school field, at all, but the field where I attended kindergarten, at Light and Life.
I didn’t think a lot about this dream until the next day, when I was watching the news, and they carried the story of two light planes that collided in mid-air … right over the kindergarten I attended. They said debris and bodies had rained down on the field, traumatizing some of the children.
All of my life I’ve been convinced that there is an underlying spiritual purpose and principle that governs us. Things happen for a purpose, and we are connected (whether we believe it or not) at the spiritual level to a spiritual realm that transcends the physical. You can dismiss things like dreams as nonsense, but from a biblical perspective they can carry an important meaning and purpose. Things like this have happened to me several times, and in this blog I look forward to sharing more about some of the experiences I’ve had which have been formative in creating transformation in my life.