At 8 years old I was the picture of total cluelessness. Shy, so shy that I was barely able to speak. Terribly thin, like a stick figure; all bony arms and legs with a neck so scrawny it’s a miracle that my head didn’t droop as I walked around. At every meal, Grandpa would tell me about his brother who had died of malnutrition. I guess he was worried that the same thing might happen to me. I just didn’t care that much about food unless Grandpa made me waffles, which I was crazy about.
I was musical, always singing (a good thing since I rarely spoke). I also loved to read and always had my nose in a book. Grandpa had another grim prediction for too much reading, so if malnutrition didn’t get me I could look forward to going blind from reading in dim light.
For a reason known only to my 8-year-old mind, I delighted in making weird faces, with crossed eyes and tightly clenched jaws. There are many pictures where I look like an asylum escapee; bony and thin, with my arms crossed as in self-defense and with a horrifyingly weird facial expression. Not to miss an opportunity for departing wisdom, Grandpa predicted that my face would freeze like that and I would wander through life on my stick legs, skirting malnutrition with a wobbly head and a ghastly grimace on my face.
My grandmother was very creative and often sewed all of the grandkids matching clothing. I have an amazing old photo of my great grandmother Daisy with her 9 great-grandkids around her, all dressed in matching red and black striped flannel pajamas that Nanny had made. Eight of the kids looked angelic, and then there was me with my very best malnourished, lunatic expression. Grandma Daisy just looked stunned. Oh, the good old days!
Time marches on and things have changed thank goodness.
I’m not shy anymore, I still love to sing, I also sew, I don’t grimace (much), and malnutrition is no longer a concern….but, I do buy bright light bulbs to read by. Grandpa might be right about the dim light…. Why tempt fate?