Four Generations

Four generations lived in the house across the street. Great-Grandma, Grandmother, Mother and Son. We didn’t know them well. The Mum was often drunk and had a succession of aggressive boyfriends and the Son was a teenager and had already been in trouble with the police. The Grandmother was the nice one, she was part of the neighbourhood, she loved the two large trees she had planted in front of the house thirty years before and she liked to speak to the passers-by. We never saw the Great-Grandmother, and she died a couple of years after we moved in.

When we had our first child the Mother softened and would say hello to us more. She liked Lucy and would comment on her pretty outfits and sassy attitude. Then one evening my wife hears yelling on the sidewalk across the street. It sounds like a dying jogger; she wants to help but I was out and she was pregnant with a sleeping toddler at home. She calls Rich next door to investigate. He walks across the street to find the Mother lying on the sidewalk. She is too drunk to make it the twenty feet from the car she had driven home to her front door. Rich carries her inside.

About two days later I am walking home with Lucy. We hear a cry from across the road. The Mother is lying on the sidewalk calling out to Lucy. Again she is so drunk she can’t walk from her car to her house. I think about walking over but I decide I want to spare my one-year-old from her ravings. I am scared that the situation will be messy so I pick Lucy up and take her into our house instead.

An Ambulance arrives the next day. The Mum is dead. A week long drunken bender has killed her. Shortly after the Grandmother sells the house. She has lost her Mother and Daughter there.

Ever since I’ve been haunted by that call of the Mother. She was lying on the cold concrete, her body giving out, her mind soaked in alcohol. She sees the little girl from across the street walking by, dressed in a pink outfit and holding her Dad’s hand. She calls out to say hello to the little girl, a final glimpse of something beautiful, but her Dad scoops her up and takes her inside. 


1 Response to “Four Generations”

  1. 1 ST
    August 3, 2008 at 02:22

    The world can be cruel. And although people talk about “6 degrees of separation” we all need from time to time to take a reality check. Under different circumstances, you may well have walked across the road to help her. But then, the final outcome may still have been the same. The story of the “good samaritan” helping out has a happy ending, but sometimes in life things don’t go that way. At least she saw something beautiful.

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