The following is the first draft of a writing a friend from my high school recently wrote after we commemorated our 50th reunion recently. I can’t wait to read the next excerpt and see what happens!
It was a Sunday afternoon, late spring or early summer in 1971. Sundays back then were quiet and peaceful. Avenues were clear of traffic and our neighborhood streets not cluttered with parked cars. You see, most of us did not have cars. Shops were closed for business on Sundays which really gave us a day of rest and family time.
Our street had many row homes on both sides and in each household were families with several children. Newly-weds with very young children, myself with three, middle aged couples with children almost grown and grandparents who still resided on the same street where their adult life started.
We were an innocent people then. Life was simple. Some of us were poorer than others and sharing a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk with a neighbor was not unheard of. Us women of the block, would gather outside of one of our neighbor’s house, usually in the afternoon, on the shady side of the street. Some with their sitting mats for the hard steps and others with their beach chairs to sit on.
Conversation was very light, talking about our kids who were napping by this time with the Dads inside watching baseball or some other television entertainment. Warm Sun, cool gentle breezes, a picture perfect Sunday, all lending to the peaceful, untroubled, relaxed ease of the day. Not many cars rolled up our street on Sundays, so when we saw the Military car slowly approaching, we watched intensely.
There was a war still going on and we had one neighbor who had a son serving overseas in Viet Nam. As the car slowed down, we held our breaths as we all knew in our hearts what was about to happen. After parking the vehicle, two uniformed officers got out and headed up the steps of the house where the boy’s parent’s lived and knocked on the door. There was an indescribable quiet, as we waited for the door to be answered, almost hoping no one was home.
The boy’s stepfather finally opened the door, a few words were exchanged of which we could not hear, and then the officers were led into the home and the doors were closed. And then it came, a violent haunting scream that could be heard for blocks away. An unforgettable scream that remained in my ears for many years.
A day in my life that I would relive over and over, never forgetting that Mother’s horror and knowing that her grief would be never-ending until the time of her death. I could not imagine losing one of my children who were so very young at that time. Too young for the heartaches of war. Little did I know that one day that scream would come again but this time, from the guts of my soul.
My youngest was born in the spring of 1971.
(To be continued by TEA . . . See Part 2 at: Son’s last “earthly” words)