Chapter 4 Changes
We drove back to Aunt Ida and Uncle George’s house after we went to the park. The mood in the car was quiet and subdued… I was the only one that was talking. “Uncle George” I said; “Do you think we can go back later with some bread and feed the ducks?”. Uncle George said; “Not today John.” “We can go later this week.” I was a bit disappointed. It was the most fun I had in quite a while, but I was content for now to just relax and look out the window at the different homes that we passed. I loved all the old trees that lines the streets and how their branches reached out over the road and how the branches moved with the slight breeze and created different patterns in the shade. Like the shadows were dancing and I imagined myself dancing in the shadows… Spinning and twirling round and round…
We approached the house which was situated in an old section of Browne’s Addition a very old part of Spokane. My Grandpa’s house was one of the old Mansion’s situated there. A large stately old white house with big columns in the front. It sat on a hill surrounded by the garden and wonderful trees. There was this really big tree in the front with large branches sticking out from its sides that I had been admiring since I had gotten there. “Boy would I love to climb that tree.” I said to myself. We went inside and Ida went to the kitchen to fix us a snack and Uncle George went to go relax in his favorite chair with his book. I was not sure what to do with myself. I didn’t have any friends around this neighborhood and my aunt and uncle did not have any children. They always wanted children they said, but they could not get pregnant. I guess that is why Aunt Ida decided to be a school teacher so she could have children in her life. The rest of the afternoon was pretty quiet, but I tried to keep myself occupied by going to the library. They didn’t have a television so it was my only recourse. Aunt Ida had collected quite a few childrens books and classics over the years so I thought I would find something interesting. Mom had always encouraged me to ready and we went to the library off and on. I was always dragging books home from school and mom was having to remind me to turn them back in when they were late.
The rest of the next couple of days were pretty uneventful. I was getting pretty bored. So one day after lunch I sneaked out the back door and ran down the street. I started wandering around a little in the neighborhood. Down the next couple of blocks I found some homes that were not quite as fancy and seemed to have families living in them. I saw some kids around my age or maybe a little older. I was too shy to go up and talk to them so I just stood across the street and watched them playing outside. They were playing kick ball. It seemed there was two teams of kids battling it out and the goalies were trying their best to keep the ball from crossing the goal line. Back and forth, back and forth. I wanted to join them, but was afraid to speak. They were all boys except for one girl. I thought it was odd that this one girl could be playing against these boys that were clearly bigger than her. But she was full of spitfire and she was determined to get control of the ball and score a goal. I could see her pig tails bouncing along as she ran. She wore glasses and had blond hair. I kept watching for a little bit then I continued on. There were people outside mowing the lawn, pruning bushes, or working on their cars. All in all I thought it was wonderful! So this is how people live in a smaller town. I was used to the hustle and bustle of a larger city like Seattle. I had been walking around for a little while and sort of lost my bearings… After a few turns around the block I noticed Aunt Ida was walking up towards me. “Where in the world did you go John W. McMurphy.” She said a bit sternly, but with a smile on her face. “I was in the kitchen and turned my back and you were gone.” “I figured eventually you would want to go exploring.” “But next time you do, would you let us know?” “Okay.” I said; “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you.” “That is okay honey, I know you are just curious.” “There are a lot of children in the neighborhood.” ”Maybe you can make some friends?” “I don’t know anyone Aunt Ida.” “Well you just have to get up the courage and talk to someone.” Ida said. We slowly walked back to the house enjoying the sun shining through the trees as we walked in the cool shade of the trees and the pretty manicured lawns. Many of the yards had flower beds and I looked at the colors of the flowers. They didn’t have much for lawns in the city I came from. You had to go outside of the city and live in a house for that. Our landlord didn’t believe in flowers let alone trees. As we went into the house Aunt Ida started to talk to me in a real serious tone. “John.” Could you come into the living room with us we need to speak to you. I looked up at her and was a bit scared. I didn’t say I was scared, but I was, I felt queasy in my stomach like I was going to throw up. Like I had eaten too much candy in one sitting and my body was turning against me in protest.
My uncle and aunt talked to me for quite a while. Aunt Ida explained that she spoke with my mother a couple days ago before we left for the park and she had been trying to figure out how to tell me since then. "I have some bad news to tell you." “John.” She said; “You mother asked me to keep you indefinitely as things are not working out well with her and your father, if anything, they have gotten worse so she asked that you stay with us this Summer and maybe she can get you back by the time school starts in September.” “No!” I said; “I don’t need to stay here, I need to go home!” I argued. My face was stern and determined. I had my arms crossed and my lower lip stuck out just a bit. This was my stance that I used when I was trying to make a point. Aunt Ida replied. “I can see you have your mother’s stubborn streak and independence that is for sure.” “I am so sorry John, but your mother said it was not safe for you to go home right now.” “She is going to call us later this week and let us know how things are going.” Aunt Ida said. I was so mad I could spit! How could they do this to me? My mother and father dumping me off without hardly a word? How bad could it be? My mind was racing? Was it that they thought I was too much trouble? Were they tired of me? I stared at my aunt in anger then I turned and ran upstairs to my room.
I stayed up there for a couple hours. I laid on the bed staring at the ceiling thinking. I was trying to reason things out in my 7 ½ year old brain. Was my mom trying to protect me? Was she afraid of my father? He did have a tendency to get violent at times. He had never hit me, but he did threaten to hit my mother? My mind continued to try and figure things out when I heard a soft knock on the door and my Uncle George was at the door. “Johnny?” “Johnny?” “Are you okay?” “Your Aunt feels real bad about this whole thing.” “Would you come out please?” I laid there and thought about it. “Alright Uncle George.” I said.
Uncle George sat me down with Aunt Ida. Uncle George explained. “Johnny(he liked to call me Johnny)” “Sometimes life is not fair.” “You wish things could be different, but things are not always in our control.” “But Johnny, I want to tell you a secret.” “What you can control is how you behave in this world.” “You can chose to fight against the world with all your might and try to change all aspects of your life or you can decide which things are out of your control and make your own destiny.” “Johnny” “The bad thing is this is something that is out of your control.” “But we want you to know that we both love you dearly and we will do our best to help you through this difficult situation.” “We cannot take the hurt away, but we can try to be a listening ear.” ”We will have to take this one step at a time.” “So, that being said, why don’t we go out to the kitchen and see if we can fix ourselves a snack.” “Sound good?” I nodded slowly. Aunt Ida put her hand on my shoulder and guided me towards the kitchen.
After we grabbed something to eat Uncle George took a book out of the library and asked If I wanted him to read to me. I said “I guess that would be nice.” The book was “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. I curled up on the sofa next to Uncle George while he read to me. I quietly listened as he read. I liked it when someone read to me. My mother used to read to me all the time. I closed my eyes and drifted off. It was much later than I thought as I fell fast asleep. My uncle noticed I fell asleep and carefully picked me up and carried me up to my room and put me to bed.