Michael Koerner Photography

Childhood Memory

My mother had her adrenal glands removed in 1976. This was a radical surgical procedure, even for those days. The level of success from the operation would be measured over the next many years by closely watching the effects of her hormone replacement therapies, since the adrenal glands regulate the body's delicate chemical balance that governs a person’s emotional swings. Our family learned that this surgery was necessary in a horribly difficult way.

Earlier that same year, while on summer vacation in San Diego, California, our family learned that our home had been burglarized. The local police had completely solved the crime and even gathered confessions from the neighbor kids who did the deed. Some of my parents’ more valuable personal items were even recovered by the police a full week before we even came back home from vacation. However, the normal emotions from such an event swelled in our heads during our time (and distance) away from home. The rest and serenity of a normal vacation was mostly lost.

Upon entering our home, we all witnessed the chaos of upturned furniture, strewn papers, smashed objects and the general debris of a ransacked home. However, my mother saw more and felt more than the rest of us - more than her body chemistry could regulate. She tore open the kitchen drawers and found her meat cleaver. She waived it over her head, while screaming that she was going to kill the neighbor kids who did this. When my 6'2" 240 lb father tried to stop my 5'3" Japanese mother, he was promptly lifted off the ground by my mother and thrown into the refrigerator. While lying on the kitchen floor, my father yelled at me to take my young 7-year-old brother, Richard, and flee into the back bedroom. I dragged my bewildered and crying brother across the living room and down the hall to my bedroom at the far end of the house.

While we barricaded ourselves in my bedroom, we heard our parents screaming, yelling and crying at the other end of our home. I rolled open my bedroom window and propped my brother next to the screen. I couldn’t see anyone outside, but I feared that my mom was roaming the front of the house with her cleaver. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but I was telling myself that if our dad came to my bedroom door, then my brother and I would be OK. But, if our mom came to the door ... then dad was dead, so I was going to push my brother out of the window to safety.

After what seemed like an eternity, my father opened the bedroom door to check on us. Other kids my age in high school would leave school each day wondering what game to play or what friends they would meet or what events they would plan. Unlike them, I would come home each day after school for the next four years of high school and hope my mom's hormone replacement therapy was working and that she hadn't killed my family. That fear eventually subsided over the years.

These words and my accompanying images are my efforts to purge this story from my childhood. Thank you for reading and for viewing these images.

Album info

Available RSS feeds