One call. It was one call that changed the course of our lives. Grace returned from a trip back to Ohio to some of the worst news a parent can receive. Once George heard the charges he had no choice. He called the police. And time changed. Forever.
It was during this time that I wondered just how we’d all survive daily life let alone the future. My brother did the best he could with the circumstances he was given. He had no choice but to do what he had to do. What child should have to call the law on their own father…even if they are an adult? What parent should have to look their own child in the eyes and realize that their father hurt their child? What type of person survives that ordeal?
George did. George and Grace became a force to reckon with. They weathered accusations from family members that just were not true. They arranged counseling sessions for the kids while juggling daily life. They tried to answer the question WHY without letting it overwhelm them. It was a storm that could take them down. They didn’t let it. Yes, they were angry. Yes, they were not ashamed to tell others what had happened. Yes, they stood, even when it SEEMED that other siblings and aunts and uncles did not believe them. THEY stood strong. Because as my brother says, “You have to do what you have to do.”
During this time changes occurred. The family moved from the house that now held nightmares. George’s company made internal changes which he could not follow. He quit and found a part-time job with another company. This allowed him to pursue the finishing of his degree.
The sacrifices required were huge. The kids needed to have a parent home with them after school so Grace could not work during hours that George was not home. The significant cut in income meant no new clothes, gifts or activities. Life became paycheck to paycheck. I would see the heartbreak it caused Grace and George. But there was always the same refrain, “One day it will be better. This is for daddy’s degree.” What started as just my brother’s dream, was now his family’s dream.
Time marched on. Then another phone call. I called back in a panic. Within 12 hours I was on the road. Racing down the freeway at 80-90 mph…praying to reach them in time. My brother. George. The one I had prayed and supported for so long was lost. Lost in a world where we could not reach him. The weight of a lifetime of memories had hit. Full force. Suddenly it seemed as if the sins of our father would win. I was determined it would not.
Looking back I’m quite amused at myself. What I thought I could do I don’t know. This was my brother’s battle. It was his alone. I was there to support Grace and the kids. It was the one moment in my life that I felt completely hopeless. I wanted so much to help…but I couldn’t.
I was worried that this would mean the end of my brother’s pursuit. It meant missed classes and work. Luckily the college was very supportive. His bosses understanding. The weight on his family was almost unbearable. I prayed as hard as I could from my own comfy life. I just wanted to take it all away. The memories. The pain. The anger. The whole ugliness of it all. I wanted him to be able to pursue his dream without all this crap!
Still, this was HIS battle. And the women in his life let him battle. We were all unable to fix this for him. He had to do this himself. We stood behind him, loved him and watched.
Like the tenacious boy who walked into a middle school with his bible in hand, my brother fought with everything he had. He wasn’t going to let his dream go. He wasn’t going to let the pain of his childhood take away his future. He was NOT going to let our father have the last say.
So he fought. The next time I saw my brother, he was changed. He smiled. (I couldn’t remember the last time I saw my brother smiled). He was easier to tease. Happy. And he had survived.
Now the end was in sight.