The Tales of Yesterdays
The day was extremely hot and the air was suffocating. All the kids of the neighborhood would flock to our small house on the corner of Howard and Copley. My house was the place to go because my momma would make her famous lemonade on days like this. We weren’t well off, but we had more than most in the neighborhood. My momma was a stay-at-home mom and my father worked as a machinist. Not sure what exactly what he did at the factory, however he came home just as tired as he would leave every morning. On this particular day though, it was very special. My momma made the lemonade extra sweet today. It was the day we celebrated my sister every year. June Marie, she was so precious and delicate. The whole neighborhood celebrates June Marie. No one got to meet her, but that didn’t matter. Everyone loved my momma so much, that they felt like they knew June. I always thought we would be sad on a day like today. Momma always reminded me, “how can we be sad on a day that we got to meet the sweetest girl in the world?”. Deep down I knew those weren’t her real feelings, Daddy neither. Momma never let me see it though. She would just make her special lemonade and share it with everyone who came by. I helped by picking the lemons from the garden before heading off to do God knows what. I called it June’s garden. Momma was so kind. She would let me play with my friends while she stood in the window of the kitchen, making the tasty treat. When us kids would tire, we knew a cool beverage awaited to quench our thirst.
“Hey momma,” I would run in first and my friends would trail behind me.
“Hey baby. Y’all worked up a sweat huh?”
“Yes momma. Jacob and I had to chase everyone because we were the aliens trying to abduct them and fly them back to mars!” I explained, still out of breath and struggling to catch it.
“Oh boy, you are just a mess. Well y’all have you something to drink and then you best clean yourself up before your daddy comes home.” She shoo’ed us out of the kitchen because we smelled “like the great outdoors” as momma like to put it.
We sat on the porch in attempt to cool down after an afternoon of fun, however it was short lived. Daddy drove up in a hurry. You could hear the tires come to a screeching halt. This was the first time I felt a pit in my stomach from seeing him. He was usually a very mild mannered man. He’d only been upset twice that I could remember. Once when he found out that his last job was having layoffs and the other time was when June Marie passed away in his arms at the hospital. Daddy came stomping up the pavement and his face was filled with hurt and anger. I’m not the only one who felt it as my friends scattered. I’d never been afraid of my daddy, but today I was. I knew he wasn’t in a good place.
“Get your behind in the house! Why are you so dirty?” He screamed at me in the deepest voice he could muster.
It didn’t take long for momma to come to my rescue. She burst through the front door to protect her cub. I didn’t know if she thought he would hurt me, though she wouldn’t leave it to chance regardless.
“What’s wrong with you Walter?” She said both quietly and with a bit of a bark.
“Don’t you talk to me like that woman!” He stood up to her with a clinched fist.
“Walter Lee Daniels, have you gone and lost your mind? There will be none of this today.”
She pointed her finger in his face and without shifting her gaze from Daddy, she commanded me to get cleaned up and ready for dinner. I had already learned to listen to my parents the first time they spoke to me. I ran into the house, scared to look back.
I took my sweet time in the bathroom before changing from my outdoors clothes. I peaked out of the bathroom to make sure the coast was clear. I had to pass across the hall to get to my room, in doing so I had a clear view of the living room. I saw my daddy with his head between his knees sobbing in defeat. My momma was kneeled before him stroking his back tenderly. This was the first time I saw with my own eyes the pain my daddy felt on this day. They hid it from me for three years, yet today I’d seen them both in a new light. The pit in my stomach was the ache he felt in his heart. Such a strong man strangled by the pain of losing his child. My momma, such a strong woman to stand by his side to help him through his emotions, all the while dealing with her own. Such a kind spirit she had. That was the day I learned that it’s ok for a man to have emotions.
“That’s pretty powerful. I can’t believe you had to learn about loss at such a young age.” The woman said, sympathizing with me.
“Yeah but it was good that I had a supportive family to help show me the way through loss.”
“Oh my, the time has flown. I really must go. It was very nice to meet you.” She stuck her hand out, offering to shake mine. Unfortunately I can’t bring myself to offer her mine. I’m still a crippled man. Crippled by my past.
“Is it ok if I meet with you here tomorrow? I’d really like to hear more about your story.”
I’m in awe. I can’t believe she sat while I talked for the past hour and wants to know more. I haven’t talked to someone in such a long time, let alone someone wanting to know more about me. It’s nice. For the first time in many years, I’m here in this place and don’t feel so alone. Perhaps it’s the fact that I, now, have something to look forward to.
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