My early years were spent in a duplex behind 7-Eleven on Wasp Road or Hornet Road, I don’t remember which they were next to each other. It was also a cul de sac. You don’t know how long it took me to remember the words “duplex” and “cul de sac”.
We lived there until I think I was 5. It’s odd because I have so many memories from that time period. I first thought they weren’t memories, then my sister said some of them were her memories, eventually when I was alone with my mom I asked her some things and my dad other things. My mom could make some events sound more interesting than they were or so I always thought.
I didn’t find out until after she passed away the stories she told me were true and some had actually been toned down. If there’s one thing my Dad does not do is lie. Don’t ask me about my Grandmother because I’ve shocked people with some of my responses. I think one was “You mean the Psychotic whore who abandoned her children and left them living in a chicken coop?”. That didn’t go over well but I refuse to sugar coat a thing for that woman.
My Grandfather (Papa) and his girlfriend lived in the duplex with us. Seven people in that duplex was kind of a lot but I don’t believe Papa Doyle was there the entire time. It wasn’t the best neighborhood even then. There were drugs, drinking and fights. It was low income and some unstable people lived there also.
It was cold outside when I saw the man on his bike, I didn’t know what he was dragging next to him as he rode until he got closer. It was a dog hanging on a stick attached to one of his handlebars. When he went by he told me we better keep our dog from barking or the same would happen.
I remember standing there, unable to move for a long time. My mom finally came to get me. She kept asking what was wrong. When I told her she went into Mama Bear mode. She did this well. No one messed with her babies no matter how old they got. She knew her limits though. She waited for my Dad to get home from work and told him. He left the house with a slam of the door. I didn’t see the man on the bike again.
My Grandfather had a habit of not locking doors and falling asleep with lit cigarettes or cigars. A large drunk man was coming home late one night but came into our duplex instead of his. He made it all the way to the room I shared with my twin sister when I screamed. My Dad came running, picked the man up by his shirt collar and it was like they both floated down the stairs and out the door. On another day outside a man put his hand through his bedroom window, I just remember all the blood.
My brother was 12 and already smoking pot with the kids in the neighborhood. He didn’t realize the glass door was down and my mom had cleaned it. He smashed through it. My sister doesn’t remember these things only being stung by a bee on the bottom of her foot which isn’t correct. I stepped on a piece of glass it was in the arch of my foot but I ignored it until I got home. When my mom first looked at my foot she thought I stepped in something. When she realized there was glass embedded in it things changed.
We also had an odd shaped glass ashtray. It was kind of a triangle. Somehow I fell into the point of the ashtray and it went to the back of my throat cutting it. The problem was it cut close to an artery. My mom was in panic mode because blood kept gushing from my mouth. To the hospital we went. They stitched it but I had to be still for days so it wouldn’t rip and open the artery. This I don’t remember but I have a small scar under my chin from hitting the table with the ashtray.
The best thing my Dad did was work hard and sell everything he had to put a down payment on a house to get us out of that neighborhood. A man with an 8th grade education, an outcast, forced into the Navy, an alcoholic, never shown love, gave everything to protect his family.
The love he had for my mom was special. It wasn’t easy but they never gave up on each other.
My Dad set a high bar. For me a man should protect the people he loves, he can be strong but sensitive when needed, my Dad has never disrespected a woman sober that I know of, if he makes a comment it’s positive, he’s honorable, that’s the word that fits him most.