Walking on Eggshells
In spite of our miserable existence, my brothers and I looked up to our mother as our hero. She did the very best with everything, and she did whatever she could for us. But my father’s drinking grew even worse, and he became more abusive and savage than I thought possible. Soon he began demanding things, taking valuables and money from us. Sometimes he grabbed the money my mom had spent months scraping together—nickels and dimes—to buy his liquor, and often he’d snatch back the meager money he had just left us for the week.
I walked around holding my breath as soon as he left, afraid to relax. Finally, no sooner had I let out a sigh of relief, no sooner had my mother, brothers, and I restored the craziness to order, harmony, and some small degree of peace, than my father would come back in and destroy everything again.
Things began to fall apart even more financially. We lived in the slum apartment buildings for what seemed like an eternity because it took my mother years to save up enough money for us to move out. Her worried face saddened my brothers and me; we knew she wanted the best for us but could not give it. But we were rich in the love she gave us. In spite of everything, we could count on just one thing—our mother loved us. Yet she seemed strangely bound to our tormentor, my father, and powerless to do anything about it.
Once in a while my dad bought things for us, and then months would pass before he bought anything substantial again. The end of the year and the holidays especially were a tough time in our home. When school started in September, it was the first strain of the end of the year on our meager household budget. My brothers and I had no choice but to wear the same clothes and coats from the year before because there was no money to buy new things.
“High waters!” some kid would yell as I got in line at the school cafeteria for lunch, mocking the way my pants rode a few inches above the tops of my shoes. “Hey, isn’t that your little brother’s coat,” another might call out. “It looks kind of short in the arms.” I played it off, trying to act as if I wasn’t embarrassed by the jeers, but the words sank deep into my spirit, fueling my resentment against my father.
Date: 2015-01-11; view: 457