Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Friends of the Family

My parents were friends with a family who lived at the other end of the county, in the largest town in the county. This was a very poor district, and still is today, with many people unemployed and no work to draw anyone to the area. The largest town, the county seat, has never had enough of a population to qualify as a city, and a lot of it's citizens are on government aid, as was the family we knew. I don't know how my parents ever came to know them - that happened before I was born - but I was always uncomfortable around them. They were a large family, in number and proportion, all with red hair, freckles, and smelling of sweat and rotten tomatoes. I remember that one of the girls was different from the rest, in that she was pretty, not as large, and seemed to have a bit of intelligence about her. There was at least one boy, there might have been more but he was the only one I remember. He was a few years older than me, nonetheless I was still expected to go out and play with him when they came to visit.

The main cause of concern whenever we happened to meet them was the father. He was a drunk who had been in jail, didn't work, and was always borrowing money. He had a look of pure evil about him, with bloodshot eyes that seemed to be plotting how to manipulate someone as he was talking to them. I don't know why he had been in jail, but I do know that mom and dad were afraid of him to a degree. Although they never said that, I could tell by the way they talked about him that he was someone they didn't like to meet often, even though they accepted the rest of the family warmly. Luckily, for me at least, by the time I was starting into my teen years their visits were less frequent. The father had borrowed money from at least one of my older brothers that I knew of, and I didn't want to think that he'd be looking me up to get some money to go out drinking (maybe there's always someone like that in your life though,because now I have a mother-in-law who's constantly "borrowing" money for cigarettes). The last time I remember seeing the father was when we were in town getting groceries and he suddenly appeared at the window of our car, making me jump when I recognized him. Mom and dad talked to him briefly then hurried home, seeming glad to be away from him.

I don't know what became of the father, but I did see the family several years later in a store where I was working. They didn't recognize me and I didn't introduce myself. They seemed the same as they always had, but I didn't feel the dislike for them I had when I was younger. I guess I saw things a little differently by then, maybe feeling a twinge of sympathy for their situation of never having a stable father at home to provide for them. They came in the store that day with most of the family intact, so I also felt a bit of admiration that they were able to stay together all those years.


Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Tim,

That is a sad family -- I can see them very vividly from the picture you paint. It is amazing they hung together, given the father. And time makes everything more sorrowful and understandable.

9:55 AM  

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