Carol Campbell

Irvine, CA

Sometimes you don’t even know you’ve had an Eciah until years later. I was almost two and a half when he arrived, and all the family stories say I wasn’t happy to see him. He arrived in my mother’s arms, demanding her immediate attention. A year earlier, life had already spun around when my Dad came home from WWII. Dad not only moved me out of my grandparents’ house, where I was happily adored, he set up housekeeping with my mother, who now spent way too much time with him.

What fresh hell was this? This new little guy, who was hanging on my mother’s breast, took the little time she had left. She tended to him constantly and left me to my own devices. I was insanely jealous.

Eventually I got used to the guy. He learned to smile and even laugh, and he really appreciated my two year old sense of humor. So there were times I was willing to entertain him.

I rely on family stories for the beginning of this tale, but I have definite memories of the time, six months later, when he developed pneumonia. A hush fell over the house. My parents and the doctors spoke in whispers. I had no concept yet of death, but I knew something bad was in the air. Even I was glad to see the monster when he came home from the hospital.

Over the years, we were opponents or comrades, depending on the moment. The dude was the first of a long line of intruders that changed me from an only child to the oldest of seven. In our family, there were more wars and alliances than in the entire history of Europe.

Eventually we grew up and stopped having fist fights. We made peace as we went out into the world and created incredibly different lives for ourselves.

Now the monster is my oldest friend. He can conjure up images from my earliest childhood, sometimes things I haven’t thought of in years, and I can see them vividly. I realize how lucky I am to have him in my life.