Boy, if a 4 year old became a mom today it would be an over-night news sensation! Every reporter across the globe would be in hot pursuit to get the first interview and every film maker a signed contract for movie rights. But after my dad's tragic death, I indeed became a mom to my six year old brother minus labor pains of course.
Our mother was given $1000. and a job in maintenance as compensation for her loss. In 1948 that was considered very generous to a grieving widow and her young family. She would walk out the door for work at 5:30a.m. leaving her two children to fend for themselves until her 4:00p.m.return. Even though we lived in my baba and zedo's house, waking up, dressing, getting breakfast and going to school were our responsibilities. Rather they were my duties since my brother was totally dependent on me for everything. I made sure he was up and stayed up. I buttoned his shirt and tied his shoes. I got breakfast for both of us. And got him out the door so he would make it to school on time.
When I entered first grade, the job of mother doubled. Now, not only did I handle my brother's every need, but had to make sure I was ready for the school day as well. He and I left the house at 7:00a.m. and walked the half mile to school everyday rain or shine. Of course we goofed around so a normally 15 minute jaunt would take an additional half hour. Upon reaching St. Michael's we'd go to morning Mass as any good little Catholic kids were expected to do.
School started at 9:00a.m. From that moment until 3:00p.m. when the dismissal bell rang, I was just a first grader learning to read "Dick and Jane" and master the art of the Palmer's Writing method. I recessed with my peers and momentarily left all my cares behind.
But at 3:01p.m. I, like Wonder Woman, was transformed once again into the mom of, by this time, an eight year old clueless boy. He looked to me for every need to be met, and I was there for him.
If a reporter had interviewed me then, I'm sure my overall response would have been, "Hey, he's not heavy, he's my brother!"