Contrary to what you might take away after reading the title, the house where I grew up is a great house. It’s the not so fairy tail ending that, in my opinion, makes all the difference.
My earliest memories of the house at 603 Brosig Avenue in Navasota, Texas are from around age four or five, back in the seventies. Okay, the “early” seventies. When my family moved in, the house had been fashioned into a duplex. With the renters gone, it was time to turn a home back into a home. That’s where my father came in. He was into carpentry and construction. Even his father, my grandfather, spent some time with us creating custom wood cabinets and bookcases.
The house went through changes through the years, much like the people inside. Remember that stuff called paneling? We had it for a few years. Carpet and colors came and went as well. The one thing that always remained, however, was that it always felt like home. It was a safe-haven from the world around, or so it appeared.
Finally, the days came where my parents were free of the kids. My brother and I set out on our own adventures in life. I actually came back on a couple of occasions, after a marriage and a job didn’t work out. It still felt like home, that safe-haven I mentioned.
My father and I were never close. During the adult years, my brother and I were also not close. In all reality, we didn’t even speak. I really never knew why. My only theory was our differences. First, he was nine years older than me. Also, he is very mechanically-inclined. To this day, I still struggle with changing a tire. So I thought we simply had nothing in common. On the other hand, my dad and brother were close. Again, I pointed to differences. Carpentry and mechanical things were beyond my aptitude.
Instead, I was very close with my mother. There were many things that built our special bond. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after becoming pregnant with me. My mom worried that she wouldn’t get to see me grow up, or that maybe I would even be born with cancer. While I was born prematurely, the other scenarios never came to fruition.
My mother’s health started to falter, as she moved closer to her eighties. Once again, I returned home. My brother, his wife, and their son had moved a trailer in on my family’s property earlier on. I soon noticed a strange pattern. My brother and his family, though living on my parents property, never interacted with my mother. They didn’t have any interaction with me either. They did, however, make sure to have time for my father. In spite of it, my efforts remained focused on caring for my mother.
One evening, I overheard my father on the phone with his brother one day, where he said he and my brother would love to “run me off,” but there would be “hell to pay” from my mother. I was very hurt by that and talked to my mom about it. Of course, she immediately confronted him about it.
At the end of my mom’s life, when she was in the hospital, my brother and his family would come pick-up my father from the hospital and take him to dinner. I would remain in the room with my mother. I noticed that they were increasing the effort to keep my father close. His mental state had been slipping for quite some time. Looked like all the early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, my brother and his wife were building a house and told him they would add a room for him. They were going to take care of him. They had already mentally discarded mom, I guess.
During the final week of my mother’s life, she was at home under hospice care. I remained by her side and was the designated person to administer Morphine. As for my brother and my father, neither even acknowledged my mother during this time. They watched the Superbowl and, as I later discovered, broke into a locked lock-box where my parents important documents were – including a copy of the will.
After my mother drew her last breath, I realized the obvious. I was out, turned against, and the plot began. My mother chose cremation, but they wouldn’t tell me when her cremated remains would be buried or where. The day after she died, my father started taking all of her things to the trash, including her bridal pictures, sentimental things and other items of value. My brother had my father set him up to have control over his finances and property.
Next, my father served me with eviction papers. The Justice of the Peace is a friend of the realtor my father and brother chose and I was given only three days to find a new place to live. Under normal circumstances, I would have at least had 30, according to the law. The small-town politics were definitely at play. I didn’t even have enough time to gather all of my things.
Had the tables been turned, as in my brother in my situation and father passing first, I would have never done this to my brother. My mom instilled that in my, I guess, by always placing her family first. I will always wonder where my brother’s ideology came from.
There are a few things that I am at peace with. My mother knew I was there for her and I hope she even felt my presence in her final moments. We left no words unsaid and no touches withheld. I had never watched anyone die, but I will never forget how a life, a personality, a certain glow and energy slipped away before my eyes, leaving only a shell behind. It was in this precise moment, I realized that it was not the roof, the rafters, the carpet or the drapes that made this house a home. It was my mother. Without mom, the house too is just an empty shell.
There is, however, one thing I am not at peace with. In the end, all my mother really wanted was to say goodbye to a family united. Very sorry, mom, but we all let you down.
No words or contact from my father or brother since. I suppose it will never come in this lifetime.
And remember that room my brother was adding for my father? Through the grapevine, I know that my dad was placed in one of the nursing homes in Navasota (and not a good one). Looks like in the end, my brother pulled one over on us all.
It is troubling to me that my father is in this particular nursing home. I would not have made that choice under any circumstance. I guess he chose his path. If I could, I would love to purchase the house, hang another “welcome” sign at 603 Brosig Avenue in Navasota, search for another bottle tree, and plant more flowers. Maybe even be able to return some of the happy and peaceful vibes, ones that would not turn out to be merely a mirage in the end. One can wish, right?
As for my mother, there isn’t a day that goes by that I do not think of her. Her memory remains and so does my gratitude for her and her life.