It just occurred to me that Mother may have been raising a tribe of cannibals during the time Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Edward lived with us and I bit my cousin Cathy. My brother Billy was five months old to Cousin Eddie’s six weeks and much bigger. Mother and Aunt Bonnie had put the two babies on a quilt to play while they did their housework. Eddie had colic and cried all the time, so Aunt Bonnie wasn’t too surprised at the wailing. She went in to check on him after a few minutes to find Billy, who was teething, had worked his way over to Eddie. He had a foot in one hand, a thigh in the other, and was gnawing him like a Thanksgiving Turkey.
When I was about three years old, my cousin Cathy’s parents moved their tiny egg-shaped trailer house under a big shade tree in our front yard. It was about as roomy as a nice bathtub. Like any right-thinking parents with two tiny children, they quickly moved into the house with our family, leaving us with four adults, a six-year-old, a three-year-old, an eighteen month old, and two newborns in a three bedroom house. The women cooked, cleaned and watched the kids together every day. Mother said it was a great time.
Pictured above are my cousin Cathy and me. She was much smaller though only a year younger than I. She also developed a nasty habit of biting. After I was bitten a few times, Mother told me to “bite her back.” She didn’t specify how hard.
The next time Cathy bit me, I bit her just below the eye and hung on. Cathy screamed and Mamas came running. Still I hung on. Mother told me to turn loose but I was too wrought up to hear her. She had to smack me to make me turn loose. It hurt my feelings. “You told me to bite her.”
“I didn’t tell you to bite a chunk out of her face.!”
Cathy had a bruise showing all my tooth prints. It turned from purple to green to yellow. I’m sorry, Cathy.