It’s been 30 years since I saw the white house with blue trim and black shutters that sat on top of the hill next to my grandparents’. The kitchen window promised a perfect birds’ eye view to catch any soul creeping up the small hill, into the large driveway. It was a quaint house at first sight arriving into town. Three foot metal squeaky gate, A narrow cement walk way leading to the wooden steps up to the front entrance. Before reaching the main door was a storm door. It had no door knobs for which, one would be required to pull up the rusty copper latch to enter. I didn’t like the storm door much. I was too tiny and too short to reach the rusty latch on a good day.
My brother Tommy told me Dad had owned a small convenience store at one time that was inside the porch of the house. I visualize my father, a clerk, cooped up in the tiny area standing behind the counter. Cramped customers lining up waiting to make their purchases, filling their shopping bags with flour, sugar, and white bread. I pictured Dad watching me with a side grin as I would sneak candy from the glass candy jar. My father was not much of a business man. Before long, his career as an entrepreneur eventually ended.
Summer of ’84, there were unusual number of windstorms. I was six. I approached the front steps on my house, the wind lifted me off my feet – quickly I grabbed hold to the wooden hand post. My mother watched from the kitchen window witnessing the attack of the winds. The image of her daughter’s body, mauled by the wind, pulling in all directions, my mother stood still wide eyed. Before long she barged outside. Standing in the threshold holding open the storm door, she cried out.
“Good heavens Tommy, I told you to watch the little ones!”
Running up behind me, Tommy tried to catch his breath. I did not see Tommy, since I was a little distracted of potentially being blown away.
“I see her, I see her Pearl. She ran too far ahead of me—”
“I told you, do not call me that.”
With the roll of the eyes, Tommy pretended he didn’t hear mom. But this further aggravated her. While the two stood at equal ends of the steps arguing, I still was dangling in mid air.
“Mom!!” Quickly, Tommy turned to his right, grabbed hold my waist, pulled me down from the wooden post, safely brought me inside the house.
Reaching for the brush, mother made an attempt to detangle my brown locks.
“ Anita, look at your hair, it’s full of knots!”
“Ouch mom, that hurts!”
My mother was rough with the brush. She wasn’t a delicate woman. Funny woman, but not graceful. When my mother were sweeping, and if I were caught with my feet dangling over the edge of a chair, wack! She would smack the broom across my ankles. And the best part, she took no notice and continued sweeping. We didn’t talk much, my mother and I, only if the nature of a conversation involved domestic concerns. I reckon she had more important things to tend to than wonder the mind of a six year old.
Tommy yelled from the other room. “Pearl, I’m off – be back in an hour.” As her name echoing threw the walls, hair brush still in hand, mother rolled her eyes in silence.
I continued to squirm and fuse, an effort to escape. “Keep still Anita, so I can take out the tangles.”
Once my hair was straight and mom was able to smoothy comb her fingers through, she abruptly left my side to continue on her daily duties.
I sat at the empty kitchen table, while mom peeled potatoes. “When’s dad getting home mom?” “Don’t know Anita – soon.”
Dad barged in and Brock the eldest son, followed behind. Sounds of men’s laughter had filtered the room. The once cold and silent kitchen was now filled with life. My father worked at the local fish plant, and from time to time he brought home fresh seafood. A white bucket slammed on the table, seal peeled open, Dad hauled out a live lobster. Playfully, my father holding the lobster by its tail waving the live creature in my face. Its shell had tints of blue and brown long thin tentacles, and massive claws. Screaming with Laughter, I held out both palms. Lucky for me the lobster’s claws were bounded with blue thick rubber bands, preventing its claws to snap at any defense.
“Get that creature of her face!”
My mother said as she grab the lobster, throwing it in the pot of boiling water. By the time the lobster was cooked, reached the supper table, the shell transformed into a ruby red. I loved it when Dad brought home seafood, just as much I loved it when he took me fishing.
That same night when the misty rain smelled like fresh picked daisies, Dad took me to fishing at Brook’s Pond. We headed down the gravel hill, crossed the paved road, and walked the narrow trail. I don’t recall catching anything that day, and I don’t recall Dad did either. Dad lifting his head back laughing, casting out his rod.
“It’s raining cats and dogs sweetheart.”
The rain poured down smacking off the water, sounding like a bag of thousand gold coins pouring on a wooden floor.
“Have I told you the story of old man Murphy and how the fellow ventured off to sea and was never seen again?” He asked.
I had, but was willing to hear it again. Dad told old folk tales of lonely fishermen and stories of ship wreaks. As I stood there hanging on every word, it was like watching jewels fall out of his mouth.
Standing next to my father, both facing in the direction of the pond. I pictured my mother watching us from the kitchen window. Her vision would be distorted as she peeked through the splash of rain drops that covered the window pane. I remembered those rare moments, the imitate moments shared with my father. Not much of my childhood memories are preserved, or neatly stored away in a shoe box, but rather I’m left with snapshots of my past.
Weeks later a tall police officer came bearing news that left my mother in turmoil and despair. Our family learned there was a boat accident. Our father had lost his balance and fallen over board while trying to pull in a lobster trap. The blow to the head killed him instantly.
My time with my father in this world was short. But what remains is the memory of that warm night at Brooks’ Pond, with the dark blanket of stars covering us, light rain drops penetrated into my skin. The sense of loneliness lingered and drifted into the air, like liberated spring pollen blowing with the changing winds, in hopes it would never reach its way back to me again. And had I known our time would be short, I would had held my father a little closer, a littler bit longer.
Copyright Trina Rennie 2011