The Cedarville Review 2021

39 | CEDARVILLE REVIEW but he had an awful habit of drinking too much: and drink, my mom said, made him mean as a snake. When I got older, she told me stories about how she and her grandmother would hide from PopPop when he was in one of his fits - in closets or under the musty cellar stairs among the jars of string beans, beets, and tomatoes that Sweet Grandma had canned. Sometimes, though, they didn’t hide fast enough, and the farmhouse walls would be peppered with human-sized dents that Sweet Grandma would rearrange the furniture to hide until she could patch up the old drywall. Mom was learning then to take things as they came. As the years passed, she continued to perfect the art form of taking things as they come. In her early twenties, she found herself a single mother of two daughters. To make ends meet, she worked as a settlement officer for an attorney. Her desk was across from that of an older Jewish lady who made the best bagels - Mom said she’d always known when Mrs.Blum had brought bagels to the office because you could smell the yeastiness of the freshly baked dough as soon as you walked in the door: it was a stark contrast from the smell of old papers and ink. Mrs.Blum’s children worked in the attorney’s office too, filing paperwork. They were nineteen and twenty years old - old enough to file paperwork, but still young enough to exasperate their mother when the skinny metal file cabinets, shoved precariously in the back corner of the office, weren’t quite as organized as she’d like them to be. One of Mrs.Blum’s favorite expressions was oy vey, and the phrase quickly became a staple in my mom’s vocabulary. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard her say it. Oy vey, I learned later, was simply Yiddish for taking things as they come. In her early thirties, Mom was married and I showed up on the scene to the surprise of my parents, but to the delight of my older sister, who was ten at the time. Mom told me that one Sunday after church, the fourth grade Sunday school teacher, Mrs.Buhl, told her that my sister’s prayer request, every single Sunday for an entire year, had been for a baby sister. Mom told Mrs. Buhl very assuredly that that would not be happening. Nonetheless, Mom went into labor with me six months later, but it was three months too early, so the doctors put her on bed rest for those last three months, telling her that she could only stand for five minutes a day. Mom took it as it came and spent those ninety days reading her Bible, singing hymns, and watching The Price is Right while drinking strawberry milk made from fluorescent pink Nesquik powder. I was born healthy as could be, despite the overly complicated pregnancy, and things in my mom’s life started to fall into place again— until they stopped. When I was eight, things in our house started getting very tense. My sister was never at home when she didn’t have to be.When she wasn’t working in the hospital’s cafeteria she was at our community college taking nursing classes. My parents never looked at each other anymore. The “snowball” fights we had using plastic Easter eggs after Saturday breakfast stopped. The blanket tents and sleepovers in the living room stopped. One day, while my dad was at work, Mom took the door knobs out of our doors and replaced them. The new ones were gold colored, not silver. They had locks on the inside and no slot for a key on the outside; instead, it was just a little hole where, presumably, you could pick the lock if you had the patience for it. The gold didn’t look quite right to me. Other people had gold door knobs, we didn’t. After the locks came, the questions started. First from my mom, then from a police officer, then from a therapist. Summer came and went, and I was tired being asked questions that my brain didn’t have an answer to.