This was not a drive that Jennifer wanted to take, but her husband Gary had been adamant about the trip, loving but adamant. “He was the only one who still liked you, and it’s an opportunity to share that forgiveness you’ve been talking about.” She knew he was right; she knew that it should be done, but Jennifer still didn’t like the idea, it almost seemed like borrowing, something she and Gary did not do.
“Are you sure you don’t want cheese on that, you look like a cheesy kind of girl.” Gary had made her giggle from the first time they had met, and he was all her girlfriends wanted to talk about after the handsome young waiter had left their table, the waiter who was now an intern at the local hospital. They had married after college, Gary began his internship and she began teaching at the grade school just a block from where they had purchased their first home, the only debt they had. Both of them had worked their way thru school, sometimes working three jobs while attending and trying to study, it was difficult, but it was also one of the things that had drawn them close to each other. She had been fearful of the fifteen-year loan on the house, but they believed if they watched their budget closely, they could have it paid off in seven years.
Gary had been proven to be right, it was only a block from work and a short ten minute ride on the bicycle to the hospital where her husband worked, it was the worst house on the block of a very good neighborhood, and they were looking forward to finishing the refurbishing of it and making it their own. The church they attended was a little further away, but the Sunday morning drive was almost always enjoyable, and the people there served Christ with all their hearts, good friends were made, and life was what Jennifer had always hoped it would be.
“Yes, it’s definitely broken, how did you say it happened, the stairs?” It was the second time that her left arm had been broken by the stairs in as many years. The fall off the bicycle had been the reason for the large gash on her head, and a misstep at the city park was the reason for the broken leg. At least that was what the doctors at four different hospitals in the large city where she was raised were told, not to mention the stories that were fabricated for the school nurses and quick care centers around town. “Just remember, if you tell anyone, they’ll take you away and lock you up.”
Jennifer did not come from a nice family, both her parents were alcoholics, and when one spouse was not around to take their hatred out on the other, it would be given upon her, slaps, cigarette burns, belts, it did not seem to matter, as long as the vengeance was meted out on someone. One of her uncles had done things to her that should not be forced upon any little girl, but when she had tried to tell her parents about it one night at supper, all she got for her efforts was a two day stay in the hospital for “Climbing higher into the tree than she should have, will she be alright doctor?”
“I know I’ve forgiven them in my heart Gary, but to actually go and see them face to face after almost twelve years, I just don’t know.” “Read our devotional for the day, sweetheart.” Last stretch of road, only another thirty miles to go, three states and thirty miles, that is how she had been looking at it since the letter arrived from the lawyer. “It’s not that uncle, is it?” “No, no, this was my mom’s brother, the nice one I told you about.”
The first time she had met her uncle Frank she had been sitting in the corner facing the wall, still soaking wet from the ice- cold water that had been poured on her for something that today she could not even remember. He had taken her up to her room, oblivious to the yelling of her drunken mother of what the little brat had supposedly done this time, dried her off and dressed her in warm clothes. “Just between you and me, okay Jennifer?” She still had that five-dollar bill that Uncle Frank had put in the pocket of her little dress, along with several of the small toys that she had received from him when her birthday had come around. She was almost seventeen before he finally told her that he was the reason that her dad had all those black eyes and broken noses. “No child should be treated like you were, but I still shouldn’t have done that to your dad.” Jennifer couldn’t be sure, but she believed that her Uncle Frank was the one that paid for her last semester at college, the note that came directly to the school with the money in it asked that the giver remain anonymous.
She put the devotional book and her Bible in the back seat of the car as they pulled into the parking lot of the lawyer’s office, Gary giving her a squeeze of the hand and a smile of encouragement as they stepped into the front area. They looked much, much older than they were, the booze had taken its toll on them, and she actually had to look twice to make sure that the woman sitting there was her mother. She smiled as she said, “I forgive you, dad,” but she got nothing but a vacant stare in return, the same words were repeated to her mother, but she just brushed her off with a wave of her hand, dropping a small bottle of vodka from her purse as she did so. Jennifer felt nothing but sadness for them, not the sadness of a lost happy childhood, Gary had been helping her with that since the first time he had made her laugh, but the sadness that can come only from seeing two lost souls continue on a path that could only lead to eternal destruction.
Uncle Frank had left his sister an empty gin bottle and his brother-in-law an old, worn out belt, his way of reminding them of their lives. The building security guards had to be called to escort them out, the vehement cursing and screaming would eventually lead to more violent behavior. “What in the world are we going to do with three million dollars?” “It’s a long drive home sweetheart, plenty of time to discuss it, why don’t you read that devotional again for us.”