Everyone has skeletons in his closet, but not everyone has taught them to dance….my pastor, Burt Palmer in church last Sunday.
|A favorite photo of Joy’s mother and her twin sister|
If any one’s family tree had been stunted and wrecked by the disease of alcoholism…it was surely Joy’s. I experienced firsthand how the sinister disease had touched the lives of her brothers and sisters…even how it had wreaked havoc on their families. Many novels are waiting to be written filled with the unusual exploits of my family. Think Angela’s Ashes (by Frank McCourt) times 10. Once in a great while, I’d ask Mom about her childhood and she would clue me in.
She once told me of how abusive her father became when he drank. By all accounts he was a brilliant, perfectly civil man, but drinking brought out his dark side. Joy said she and her brothers and sisters hid in a bathroom when they heard their daddy hit the front door drunk. They lived in an upscale neighborhood of Oklahoma City called Nichols Hills. Seems Joy’s father did pretty well for himself during the Depression years. They often took in relatives and helped feed the neighbors and others struggling at the time. Mom recalled her dad coming home one evening and all the kids scrambled to the bathroom to avoid the destructive fallout. They could hear shouting, their mother crying and objects flying around the house. The episode must have gone on for some time and the children fell asleep in the locked bathroom. Joy’s memory was of getting up the next day and getting ready for school. As she walked from the house to the sidewalk, she saw the lovely curtains gently blowing out all the broken windows. Bits of destroyed furniture were scattered on the lawn. She said she cried as she went to school that day thinking of her beautiful, destroyed home. The incident was never spoken of again.
|Joy in her room meeting a sweet, sweet baby. This visit raised her spirits.|
I wheeled Mom to the dining room where we sat at a nicely decorated table. Joy furtively looked at the other residents. One impeccably coiffed lady was dangerously close to falling headfirst into her mashed potatoes. Another man constantly chattered to himself and struggled to find his mouth with his fork. There were helpful aides feeding some of the residents. Everyone wore a large bib….some of them made of big pieces of molded plastic to catch the run-off. Joy and I weakly smiled at each other and tried not to notice how different this dining room and it’s residents were from her previous residence.
We ate quickly and hightailed it out of there to finish up some chores in her room. The Florence Nightingale-of-a-nurse who tirelessly helped us all day approached Joy in the hall.
How did you enjoy your dinner and the dining room? she chirped.
It’s not baaad……if you don’t mind eating in a morgue! was Joy’s acid reply.
Right then and there, Joy became one of Florence Nightingale’s favorite residents. Me?….my heart was racing and I promised myself I’d call the cardiologist in the morning.