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Funny how some memories stick with you after 50-60 years, even. Just vignettes, more like GIFs, where the memory constitutes a short loop.

I remember getting off the school bus, running up the slope to my house, charging in the front door, waving my report card. Chanting, "I passed! I passed!"

My mother was "entertaining" the social worker and in her usual paranoid state, she expected him to interpret my enthusiasm as worry that I might not have passed, but been held back instead. She said, "Of course you passed."

The social worker took my report card from my hand, glanced at it, and smiled, saying nothing.

You know, there really was a question of whether or not I would be advanced to the next grade, though I didn't tell the social worker. Connecticut required a certain number of days of attendance in order to be promoted, and every year, as the end of school approached, I would count the number of days I had gone to school, and started attending regularly, so that I would not be held back.

That fourth grade year I made it by a single day, which was cutting it pretty fine, because early in the spring I had had the mumps and could not go to school (quarantined even after I felt better).

Most of my absences were because I was bored in school and I wanted to stay home and read. I was working on reading my way through the encyclopedia, plus reading the children's classics. That year was Little Women and Black Beauty, as I recall. And I got to volume "F" in the encyclopedia.

In essence, I was home-schooled. By myself. My mother gave me books and workbooks and pencil and paper, and I had a whole world to explore. When she was well enough to work, I stayed home alone and educated myself. To this day, I prefer to work alone, particularly when the task requires mental effort.

I'm glad I went to school some days, though. I had people skills to learn and I sure wasn't going to learn them from my schizophrenic mother or by reading the encyclopedia from A to Z.

Yes, I passed. Everyone was pleased. And then a whole summer at the shore to swim, walk the beach, climb the cliffs, play with friends, go bike riding--and read. The Universe was good to me, and all these years later, I am still deeply grateful.

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