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Every day a little boy named Jimmy came to our house. We dug holes in the sand and ran through the grass and told each other our secrets. Jimmy and I were both three years old. 

Our house

The little boy in the picture reminds me of Jimmy, and this little house reminds me of our house where Jimmy and I played. I remember that house so clearly sitting at the top of a T-intersection. Small, with a dark roof and a tiny front porch. I was three, and my sister Mimi was thirteen.

Trouble is, I was telling Mimi about this early memory, and she told me there was no such house. She said our house at 2000 Thurston Avenue in Racine, Wisconsin, didn’t look like that at all and was not at any T-intersection. I was not sure how to feel about my oldest sister squashing my oldest memory, but I got over it.

Mimi remembered Jimmy. And my mother remembered Jimmy because she was taking care of him to help with the budget.


I loved telling Jimmy my secrets because they made him laugh. But one day when his back was turned I tried telling Jimmy something, and he didn’t pay attention. So I told him again. When I still got nothing back from Jimmy, I yelled at him. Then I screamed at him.

It took many tries, but finally I realized Jimmy did not hear. He didn’t hear me or anything else. Jimmy could not hear.

Mother’s knees

I ran into the kitchen and grabbed my mother’s knees.

“Mommy! Jimmy can’t hear! Jimmy can’t hear!”

I buried my face in my mother’s skirt and shook her knees with my sobs.

“Jimmy can’t hear, Mommy! Mommy? Mommy, Jimmy can’t hear!”

A few months later, we left Jimmy behind. We moved to Michigan, and I never saw him again.

At 75, I’m almost as deaf as Jimmy when we were three. I still wonder where Jimmy digs holes in the sand, who shares his secrets. And I wonder how he helped to shape the little boy who sobbed on his mother’s knees because his friend couldn’t hear.

2 Responses to Jimmy

  1. Gary Dougherty August 1, 2017 at 9:15 PM #

    I am not sure either – but definitely impacted you! Could it be that this teaches us well that we are not totally depraved of natural goodness?
    I have just two memories when I was about that age – One was when I was ill and lying in bed and my father had walked into town two miles and two miles back and handed me a Hershey candy bar. Not sure how it impacted me, it may have some, but I remember it vaguely as if it were in black and white.

  2. Donna August 2, 2017 at 9:21 AM #

    I love your memory of Jimmy…I ‘m sure God was showing you how to care for your friend. Jimmy had a very special impact on you. You did not reject him for his of reaction to your story. Actually, his laughter was a friendly response to your jabbering on and his receiving your attention as a friend. It didn’t matter to him that he could not hear. He was happy to have you to play with. Your broken heart came out in a tearful cry and sharing this with Mom. People can communicate without sound…xo Your memory of your House is lovely. To you, it was as you saw it, to you it was a warm and fuzzy place, a pretty place and a comfortable resting place. I’m sure God gives us each the imagination to keep our memories just as they were to us.

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The Days of Elijah - a story

The Days of Elijah – a story

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