Secondary memory, the one that's borne of wishful thinking, assures me that when Grandma scrubbed my waxy ears with the wash rag soaked in sudsy Tide powder and water, digging into my waxy ears as though searching for buried treasure, she must have said "Doesn't your mother look after you better than this?" That was my first experience of unconditional love. Don't ask me to explain or justify it, it simply was. Since that moment when I was 5, I have leaned into that memory of being bathed by my grandmother in her shabby linoleum-tiled bathroom, in her deep clawfoot bathtub, throughout my long life. One theory for which I believe is proof positive of this unconditional love is that my grandmother loved me enough to clean me good and proper, and I had not experienced that kind of attention and caring before. I don't bear a grudge towards my mother for not cleaning my ears. By the time I was 5, my sadly narcissistic mom was 30 and had 5 kids. She didn't have time for narcissism, so she surely didn't have time for ears.


United States

Maureen McSweeney, with clean ears

Maureen McSweeneyComment