Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)
TITLE: An Old Indian Proverb
By Lollie Hofer
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Tripping over her feet and staggering Cheryl declared, “If she was MY kid, I’d turn her over my knee and...”
“That’s enough!” I snapped while snatching my daughter out of Cheryl’s grasp. “She didn’t mean to spill your stupid beer. It was an accident. Come on Steve, let’s get out of here.” Grabbing my purse and daughter I ran out the door. Cheryl, of course, had ruined another family reunion.
“Steve, why does your family put up with that drunkard? Why don’t they just tell her to go away?” I yelled at him while driving home. These were questions I had asked him at least a million times over the years.
Steve shrugged his shoulders while at the same time rubbing the top of his head, a habit he had when frustrated. “I don’t know what to tell you, Joyce. Cheryl is, well, Cheryl.” This was an answer he had given me for at least a million times over the years.
Cheryl was married to Jared, Steve’s younger brother. Unfortunately, she had a lousy childhood which she felt gave her the license to inflict misery upon everyone else. Hatred and vile language continually spewed from her heart and mouth. I never could understand why Steve’s family didn’t put her in her place, or better yet, simply send her away.
“Well, I’m through with these family reunions until Cheryl is out of the picture!” I fumed at my husband. “It’s ridiculous that we have them at her house anyway, just so she can drink her beer. No one else will allow alcohol into their homes,” I declared self-righteously.
Cheryl really did have a horrible childhood. Her father and brother had died in a car accident when she was still an infant. After their deaths, her mother had one boyfriend after another. At an early age, Cheryl had encountered every kind of abuse you could imagine. Her house was one of turmoil, alcohol and drugs. Her mother had dedicated her life to Christ as a teenager, but after the accident, seemed bent on punishing God for taking her husband and son.
Jared called two weeks after the family reunion. Listening to his brother crying over the phone, Steve’s face paled while he rubbed the top of his head over and over again. Cheryl was diagnosed with kidney failure, without a kidney transplant she was given six months to live.
Most of the family had tests run to see if they were compatible with Cheryl. I didn’t. It just seemed ridiculous to donate a kidney to someone who would destroy it again with her drinking. One compatible donor was found, her mother. The good news was her mother had been sober and clean for several years. The sad news was no amount of arguing would convince the mother to help save the life of her only child. After that, I was a little more willing to be tested, although I was not a compatible donor.
We buried Cheryl two months ago. I don’t know if she settled things with God or not before she died. The one true regret I have is that I didn’t ask to borrow Cheryl’s moccasins before she died. A few miles in her shoes might have helped me to understand the agony of her heart.
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