I still have memories of the stroller. It was a big clunky thing; a twin with seats font and back, not like the side by sides sold today. The vinyl canopy was an unpleasant green floral pattern. It may have been an almost, but not quite, navy blue – my memory fluctuates on the color.
My mother would load my little brother and I into the stroller; my brother in front and me in back; then off we would go. My mother couldn’t drive, so we walked everywhere. I don’t think she every learned to drive.
The trips in the stroller seemed like an adventure. I got to see big streets and cars. It felt like we walked for miles: traffic lights, railroad tracks, stores, churches and houses. It was a huge world outside our yard. Special days were when there would be a train on the tracks forcing us to wait and watch it go by.
When we got where we were going my mother would take my brother and me out of the stroller and set us in the play area. It was just a corner in the waiting room with a child sized table and some bright colored toys. My brother and I would start to play and my mom would sit and read a magazine, smoking a cigarette, waiting her turn. We would barely notice when she was in to see the doctor.
When my mother was done, she would load us back into the stroller for another adventurous walk home. I remember that sometimes there would be ice cream on the way back. Eventually my brother and I started elementary school and these trips stopped. We’d soon take our own trips up this very street to go to school, the bowling alley and baseball.
I would later find out that these weekly trips to the doctor were visits to her psychiatrist. She was in therapy for her manic-depression (bi-polar disorder today). This knowledge explained a lot of things in my house growing up.
The times she spent locked in her room with the curtains closed, sometimes for days at a time. To then one day the house would be spotless and the kitchen table would be covered in all sorts of homemade treats: cookies, fudge, pies, cakes. I liked those days. We never had to wait to have some cookies. To be followed by another switch to crying and fighting with my father.
I think back on the trips with my mother in that stroller and still remember them as good days. These were the days when she was active and happy. The trips in the stroller were a fun adventure and know the why behind the trip doesn’t really change that.
- This was originally written in March-2005. It’s been edited slightly but it holds true to the original revision.