Chapter two - Unedited
Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through.
I am sorry. Forgive me!
~ age seven ~
A tall, warmly lit and beautifully decorated Christmas tree, towers over us. We play with our new favorite toys from just a week ago. It’s New Year’s Eve 1991. We can see the glow of the Christmas lights on the house reflecting in from the fresh snow through the windows of the living room.
The living room, transforms from ordinary to magical. A manger scene on the entertainment center. Beautifully painted with vivid colors by Grandma Faye, my Dad’s mom. They look as though they are alive.
I remember watching Grandma Fea carefully paint each of them. She sits at a wooden table in front of a large window with a desk lamp lighting her way. The color seems to glide on, my eyes fallowing the brush as she carefully places the color. I want to know what it is like to paint with ease and manipulate color like Grandma Fae does. Thinking more of Grandma Fae than the story that the statues represent. The deep pink, the ocean green and graceful blue she chooses for each of the kings. Then once the color is finished she adds a layer of brown that she rubs off with a soft cloth. As she does this, very small parts of brown are left behind in the crevices of the paint and sculpture. Making them appear to be real people.
A string of green garland with deep red flowers. Each flower lit with a red glow. Adorns the archway between the living room and the dining room. Just across from the arch on a built-in bar, sits a magical miniature village. Seemingly alive and lit with street lights. An old-time look puts me in a trance wondering what life was like back then.
Just above the little magical village, a blue light bulb glows. The light represents a full moon on a clear night. The large mirror behind the village, stretches the length of the bar and makes the village seem like it goes on forever.
Some nights after everyone has gone to sleep, I find myself staring into the tine village imaging what it would be like to watch the buzz of the town in action.
The adults are in the kitchen. Just on the other side of the wall from the miniature village. Laughing at how fast the year passed and how good the food smells as they sip their beer.
They all dress in their best for the last party of the season. My sister and I prefer comfort and dress in our new fuzzy pajamas.
Those we share this magical night with, are every bit family as those we share blood with. Hank and my Dad graduated high school together. They became lifelong friends and out of that bond, a new extension of family was created. Every New Year’s Eve they are with us. In the summers, they take us finishing out on their big boat. We spend all day out on the water.
Ring Ring…Ring Ring…
Their conversation broken by the sound of the phone on the wall. Dad answers.
“Hello, Merry Christmas and Happy New year! Who is this?” He asks with a smile.
“Vivian, it’s your brother.” Dad calls to her.
“Which one, there are six of them?”
Mom laughs. Janet, just next to her cutting vegetables, smiles.
“You’d think he would remember that since he has six siblings of his own.” Janet laughs.
“Yeah, no kidding.” Mom giggles.
Dad responds. “The one from New York.”
“Oh, wow, okay,” Mom takes the phone from Dad.
“Hi Paully, Happy New Year. This is a pleasant surprise. what’s up?” Mom sounds happy to be hearing from him… then her smile fades.
I know that look. Something is wrong. The whole house seems to freeze. After setting down my toy, I sneak to the yellow, rotary phone by the couch carefully listening in. My heart races, I bet if she knew I was listening, she would ground me for life. My heart races. I can’t help but want to know more. Why is she so angary? The butterflies in my stomach wake, and I remember what The Spirits told me over summer. Was the hard part of my life about to start?
“You BASTARD!” She shouts. “How dare you!” Her voice roars like thunder. I had to pull the phone away from my ear. I can see her in the kitchen leaning against the window. Tears flood down her face. She violently wipes her nose. Spitting anytime she talks.
My heart jumps into my throat. Our eyes meet, I am done for… She looks right through me, she has no clue that I am listening. She doesn’t seem to see the phone on my ear. Pressing the hang-up-switch, so they can’t hear me on the other line. I hold it tight, like my life depends on it. Even as my finger throbs.
Mom turns holding her four head and crying into the phone. Her face red, her body tense and hunched.
“Look Vivian, I feel terrible about what happened when we were kids. I need to get good with God but I can’t do that unless you forgive me.”
What did he do that was so horribly bad? I always wonder what that energy is all about. Any time I am around him there is this heavy energy, it intrigues me. It tugs at me. My curiosity has me cling to him whenever he is home. He is a Navy man.
“And what am I supposed to do with that!?! Huh… Paul!?!”
Mom takes a deep and shaky breath, then continues.
“What… you… you think this makes it all better? You what… wanted to clear your conscious by destroying my life all over again?” Mom gasps for air, holding her head.
“After all this time, why now? Why apologize now Paul!?!” Mom waits briefly while sobbing.
“I wanted to redeem myself. For the grace of God, forgive me, of the sins I have committed. Open your heart to God– you will forgive.” He begs her.
“Vivian, you can’t keep holding it in like this. Let God into your heart. We can both be free if only you be a good Catholic and forgive.” He continues.
“Well, FUCK YOU!! Paul, you don’t know nothing’ about my relationship with God. I will never forgive a mother-fucker like you. FUCK…YOU!” Mom cries out.
As far as I know Mom didn’t have much of a relationship with God. We only went to church with other people. She does just fine without being in “God’s grace.” After this moment, I stop saying “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and in Girl Scouts. Even as an adult I am not conferrable with that phrase.
He responds with something I don’t understand… “Luke 6:36-38 reads; Be merciful. Even as your father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged. Condemn not, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. For the measure, you will give will be the measure you get back.”
How does he have the right to ask to be forgiven? Shouldn’t that be Mom’s choice? Forgiveness is given.
Not begged for or taken. It’s a gift. From the way Mom is reacting, I don’t think he should be gifted this. He is trying to steal it. It’s not for him or his god. By the time I pick up the receiver in the other room I had no idea what it was he wants to be forgiven for and I didn’t care he doesn’t deserve it.
Thank you for reading the first part of chapter two.
I don't want to give it all away.