Even though I had been given explicit instructions by my husband that I was not to attend my sister Joan’s funeral, I was mentally getting ready to go anyway. Only my love for Joan made me willing to suffer the consequences.
I waited until the next morning. Trying to keep the routine the same as usual, I fixed his breakfast, sent him off to work and the two older girls off to school. The youngest, Rene’, would have to go with me.
Quickly I packed a suitcase and took it to the car. With my heart pounding, I placed the phone call.
“Ray, I just wanted to let you know I am going to Joan’s funeral. You will need to pick up Dawn and Lyn after school”.
His reply was exactly as expected. “I told you you weren’t going. She’s dead and gone and that’s a fact. Now just forget about it.”
“But, Ray, I really need to go. She was like my mother.”
Having never gone against his orders like this before, I didn’t know how to handle it. I longed for him to understand my need.
Laughing, he replied, “Just how do you plan to get there? I told you I’m not taking you.”
“I plan to drive.”
“You’ll never make it. You probably don’t even know how to start the car. Now forget it.”
My time was limited. He could be home in ten minutes. I hung up the phone and ran to the car, Rene’ bouncing on my hip. Even though he didn’t allow me to drive, I did know how. It was Joan’s husband, Lee, who had taught me.
I drove south over the state line as fast as the speed limit would allow, keeping one eye on the rear-view mirror.
The tears running down my cheeks matched the rain pouring down on the car. Joan had been my light in a very dark life. And now she was gone. I had to say goodbye.
When the family gathered at the funeral home, imagine my surprise to see Ray, Dawn and Lyn walk through the doorway. He kept a tight grip on the girl’s hands and never glanced in my direction. But he smiled and hugged his way through the family to find seats.
He was there again at the graveside, head bowed, never releasing his hold on Dawn and Lyn. And then he was gone.
Lee was so distraught I agreed to stay two more days. Joan was only 42…too young to die. Lee paced the floor. He didn’t sleep. He needed help.
So I asked him if he would like to go home with me. We had a six-bedroom, three-level house. He could stay as long as he needed. He agreed.
He did the driving going home, following my directions to my house. We walked up on the front porch. The drapes were open. Even before I got to the door, I could see no one lived there. The house was empty.
Now I understood what my consequence was.
I didn’t know where I lived. I had no idea if they were still in the same town…or if I was homeless. With Lee standing beside me, I felt about three inches tall. I had no idea if there would be a place for him. How humiliating!
What if I did find them and he wouldn’t let me in? Where were the girls? What was I supposed to do now?
Eyes downcast and fear clenching my heart, I walked to the neighbor’s house and rang the doorbell. She thought it was hilarious he had moved and not told me where. I didn’t see the humor. But she did know the address.
We pulled up in front of the house with the new address. We walked up on the porch and rang the doorbell. Ray came to the door, smiling and friendly.
“Come on in. Good to see you, Lee.” Ray guided Lee through the living room, dining room and into the kitchen. “So sorry about Joan. You are welcome to stay with us as long as you like.”
I stared at the furniture and curtains…the lamps…and dishes in the china hutch. I could see our appliances in the kitchen. Not a box in sight. Everything was put away. I had no idea where anything was.
How had he done this?
My disobedience and his move were never mentioned. He acted like we had always lived there.
And life went on.
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