“Dating isn’t allowed until your Seventeen. That’s it and that’s final.”
I remember those words my father sternly spoke to me almost 8 years ago. “I wonder how different my life would’ve been if I had listened?” I thought to myself.
“Mom, I’m bored. Will you play dinosaurs with me? I’ll be the big black one and you can be the hunter and I’ll sneak up on you and attack you with my secret laser light in my eyes.”
I giggled at the sight of my six year old “man” in his warrior dinosaur stance.
“I’ll play after dinner. Go wash your hands and set the table.”
“No buts. Just do it and I don’t want to hear any complaining.”
My son walked solemnly upstairs to the dreaded bar of soap which sat waiting for him. I shuttered to myself as I recalled having the same pout when I was asked by my parents to do something dreadful, like having a bath or doing my homework.
Nothing scared me more than the thought of my little Charlie growing up to be like me. I wanted him to go to University, get married and have a decent job.
“Charlie, come and eat hon!” I yelled.
I could hear his footsteps thundering down the stairs. He sprinted to the table and jumped onto his seat. After catching his breath he looked at me seriously and asked,
“Mom, how come I don’t have a grandma or grandpa?”
I dropped the ladle, soup splattering everywhere.
“Why do you ask?” I questioned while reaching for his Dinosaur bowl.
“Because Grant told me today at kindergarten that his grandma bought him a real race car.”
“I don’t think it was a ‘real’ car hon.”
“It was. He said so. I want a real car mom”
“Well, you can’t have everything you want.” I said firmly, hoping to end this conversation.
“…Can I have a grandma or a grandpa?”
“ Charlie… It’s difficult to explain…”
“Did they leave us like dad?”
This was a conversation I really didn’t want to travel down.
“Not exactly. Now eat up and stop asking so many questions!”
I looked at Charlie’s dejected face. It was a mirrored image of my own when I was a child. My lip would come out and my eyes furrowed down so low that I could barely see.
“Stop making that face Charlie!”
“But you do it mom. I see you. After you get off the phone with dad you look like that.”
“Yeah, well, I have a good reason to, you don’t.”
I knew it was a poor excuses, but I wasn’t willing to resurrect the past. I glanced at the clock it flashed 7:00.
“Mom should be calling anytime now,” I thought to myself.
She never misses a Sunday. Not once, in the past seven years. Surprising, since I’ve never answered any of her calls.
I can still remember the look on her when I told her I was pregnant. She was so disappointed. Tears streamed down her face. My dad was a different story. He yelled at me for a good two hours. All about me never being willing to cooperate in anything, from going to church to doing house chores. He told me I deserved what I got.”
I looked at my little bundle of joy across the table from me. I truly did want the best for him. But the thought of facing my parents scared me more than death itself.
“Can we play dinosaurs now mom?” He proudly showed me his empty soup bowl.
“Sure.” My heart started beating faster as I saw the clock ticking closer to 7:15. The exact time I left one Sunday, seven years ago.
I could hear Charlie in the front room, practicing his dinosaur growl to our family cat.
All of a sudden a shrill rang through the air. I felt my heart pulsate even heavier.
“Mom, the phone’s ringing. Can I answer it?”
I paused. My heart aching with love for Charlie. It rang again. Every muscle in my body wanted to say no.
“Yes, Charlie… you can.” My voice broke. I started sobbing as my body sank to the floor. Years of anger and hurt surfaced to my mind.
“Hello? Charlie Anderson speaking, “Yep, she’s right here”
Charlie passed me the phone with a box of Kleenex and lovingly said, “You need to give this lady a Kleenex ‘cause she’s crying too.”
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