in my own words...

Douglas DavisI think I'm way to old to be as young as I am.  But, I guess, if you'd been through everything I'd been through, you'd feel old, too.  For as long as I can remember, it's always been me and my little sister Grace.  Our mother and father never seemed to be around much.  Granted, they both worked because they were determined to put me through school one day.  They didn't want me to wind up like they had...working their hearts out just to make ends meet.

I could always tell when Dad was stressed from work at the factory.  He worked as a foreman and always seemed to be angry about something.  A late bill here, a disconnect notice there.  He and mom seemed to fight all the time about money.  We thought that when he made foreman, things were gonna be better.  It turned out that things only got worse.

Dad started to drink pretty heavily.  Sure, at first it was only a bourbon and water after a late shift at the plant, but soon it got worse and worse.  He and Mom started to fight more over his drinking than our lack of money.  I looked forward to going to school every day so I could just get away from home.  I know it was all hard on me, but it was even worse on Grace.  She was really little so when they would fight, I'd be the one to hold her and tell her everything way gonna be alright.  It's not easy trying to explain to a seven year old why Mommy and Daddy are yelling at each other.

The only good thing to come out of all this was that I really loved school and all the time I spent there to stay away from home.  Hours in the library allowed me to read almost every book I could find.  I really loved the books that dealt with mysteries and law.  That's when I made up my mind to be a lawyer.  Thank god I graduated at the top of my class and got a full scholarship to Albanyville University. There  I excelled in my courses and got accepted to law school.  Then it began to look like I wouldn't get to go.

Dad's drinking had gotten worse and worse while I was gone.  Then his health started to fail.  He had been slowly drinking himself to death.  Finally, he realized that he had a problem, but he was so bad that he couldn't stop.  His drinking had cost him his job and Mom was doing everything she could to keep things afloat.  When I found out that Dad had died, I came right home.  Grace was quiet and withdrawn and I could really tell a change in our mother.  Something about her just wasn't quite right.  I told them that I was leaving school and coming home to take care of them, but Mom wouldn't allow it.  She made me go back and get my law degree.

After I got out of law school, I stayed in Albanyville and took a job with a local law firm.  It wasn't a prestigious position, but it was good training ground and I knew it would lead to better things.  If I had known how bad things were getting at home, I would have left Albanyville in an instant.  Mom had always been so good at hiding things.

When I got the call from the social worker, I couldn't believe what I heard.  Mom had a total breakdown and had to be committed.  Grace was so scared.  When we went to see her at the sanitarium, Mom didn't even know who we were.  I guess that all the stress of our lives had gotten to her and she couldn't take it any more.  I told Grace she was coming to Albanyville to live with me and finish school.

Now we live in a nice little house and don't really have to worry about where our next meal is coming from.  I write to Mom at least once a week, but Grace seems to want to forget she ever existed.  I've tried to get her to talk about Mom, but she refuses.  She may be quiet and shy, but she sure is stubborn.  I've spent so much time in my life looking out for her, I sometimes think I've forgotten to look out for myself.  Maybe now it's time for me to find happiness with somebody.

March, 1935