“Look, Jesse, there it is!” Joey said with surprise and joy. As hands waved and fingers pointed, he brought the yellow vinyl sided bungalow into my view.
“Oh, yes, that’s it, our old childhood home,” I smiled.
“Our old house and neighborhood have changed a lot. I’m glad we came down this street to find it.”
“I wonder if anybody lives in it now.”
“Look at the curtains and the mail jammed into the box”
“Well, that’s evidence. There’s a swing set in the back yard and manicured bushes, too.”
“Also, tulips are popping up right around the front porch,” added Joey.
I idled the car so we could examine the setting. Was this a happy house or a house of horrors as we used to say. It had to be a much happier home than when we lived there 25 years ago. I turned to Joey and saw tears glistening in his eyes. My eyes started to tear too.
“I guess we just can’t forget – try as we might – the drama that overwhelmed this house,” I recalled.
“Mom really tried, but Dad made living here a nightmare,” Joey said. “Poor Mom, bless her soul.”
‘I remember she was always so pretty and clean. I thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor with her dark auburn hair and her turquoise eyes.”
“I remember her energy, how ambitious she always was.”
I nodded. “Yes, she was a nut about housecleaning. Like they say, ‘you could eat an egg off her floor.’”
“She drove me to my Little League games and you to dance lessons,” Joey said wistfully.
“And, she was a people person, too. Remember all those neighborhood coffee klatches she had? Most of the time she’d let me sit and listen. I loved the gossip,” I giggled.
“I always wondered how Mom and Dad got together. They were like a pair of shoes, pointed in opposite directions. Dad was fun at times, but mostly he was moody and broody” Joey sighed and gazed at the house.
“They made a handsome couple, but their good looks were deceiving.”
“Daddy’s drinking spoiled everything!” I said angrily. We never knew when he would come home – if he came home. Mom would wait with fresh lipstick, a clean apron, and a delicious, hearty meal. He wouldn’t call; he’d take Mom’s efforts for granted and saunter in the house plastered. Then, the horrible yelling and cussing would begin. You could hear Mom sobbing and Dad swearing up a storm. Out of the Satanic darkness, Jesus would come and comfort us.
“Being the youngest, I would jump under my bed, terrified. Jesse, you would jump under with me. We’d put our arms around each other, shaking.
“Remember, we would sing hymns, pray and repeat Bible verses. And, Jesus would comfort and calm us. He was our core of strength and peace. It was like three against the world. Precious Jesus upheld us.
“Funny, it always seemed when the praying started, the fighting stopped,” Joey said profoundly.
“Well, I think you’re right. Jesus took care of Mom and us.”
“Hey, Jesse, do you think Dad was an alcoholic?” Joey coyly asked.
“My counselor said he was. It’s foggy to me. He usually didn’t drink at home, but he really let loose at the bars. He had a wild pack of drinking buddies. He never really took care of us. Mom did everything. That’s the worst.”
“But, Mom told us to never tell anyone that Daddy drank.”
“That’s typical of an alcoholic dysfunctional home. Keep it quiet.”
Joey asked, “Jesse, you really think our childhood home was dysfunctional?”
“According to my counselor and information on alcoholism.”
“Wow, I never dreamed. I thought I had a normal childhood.”
“That’s what alcoholism does – makes what’s insane seem sane. And, I believe Jesus can heal those painful memories for us. We may never forget them, and they won’t sting our hearts anymore.”
An opening door broke our reverie, and they looked to see a young boy and girl running out from the yellow vinyl sided house. “Look at that – two kids – just like us.” Joey felt a wave of warmth.
“Yes, just like us . . . like us.”
Wine is a mocker, strong drink s raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Proverbs 20:1 (KJV)
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