While trying to go to sleep a while ago, I thought of a song I wrote for my stepmother back in 1979. Titled Little Lithuanian, it hasn’t crossed my mind for at least a decade. Isn’t it strange what surfaces when you’re not quite ready to drift off?

My stepmother was abusive. If you’ve read either of my memoirs, Reversible Skirt and Resilient Ruin, you’ll likely recall what kind of parent she was. Even now I sometimes find it unfathomable why she behaved so horribly.

Wouldn’t it be a better world if all parents chose to follow the Hippocratic Oath and first do no harm?

A troubled soul, my stepmother did the opposite.

She was primarily Lithuanian with a little
Polish and Russian thrown in. My sisters and I are mostly Irish, with a bit of German. She was just under 5 feet tall; I’m 5 feet 7 inches, and my sisters are even taller. She was shrill; we are quiet, too quiet. I don’t know if ethnicity had anything to do with how poorly we mixed, but whatever the reasons, we were not of the same ilk. Nevertheless, my overriding feelings for my long-deceased abuser are those of forgiveness.

Here are the lyrics:


Little Lithuanian

Little Lithuanian
A babushka
Blowin’ in the breeze
Gets my knees tremblin’
For memories
Within me
Within me

You gathered dandelions
For our salad
Early in the day
I’d walk away laughin’
As my friends would say
She is strange
She is strange

Little Lithuanian
Tired peasant
Through the rust of years
Let your fears go now
I will dry your tears
Love is here
Love is here


Laura McHale, 1979


Photo of leprechauns by Enda Guinan
Photo of babushka dolls by Paul Keller
Photo of woman wearing babushka by christheobscure

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