My 6 Year Old Has White Spots On Her Face Jerome’s Home

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Jerome’s Home

When Jerome died mum was only about three or four and the concept of time was something she didn’t understand. So, papa (Archie) in his wisdom went down to the local clothing store, I think Sax and Fryer and bought her a pair of coveralls. He kept them in the pharmacy and said to her, “Doris when these coveralls fit Jerome will be coming home.” She said, “I tried on these coveralls every day.” The day the coveralls were fitted Jerome came home fine. He came home in a pine box on the train. Mom was never told that she was meeting her brother’s coffin with him in it. She was not told that he would see her at his funeral.

After mom’s death I started writing a story about this particular scene. While I was writing the story, my imagination got away with me especially because my mother’s connection with Jerome and the grief of losing her was consuming it. As I wrote the story I wrote it in the first person. Honestly, I could see everything in my head. I felt as if I had been transported back in time. I wrote the scene like this.

I am taken back to a time of my childhood. A time of great unhappiness, I don’t blame anyone. Wait, that’s not true, I blame everything that was around me. My mother, my so-called mother, my papa, and my so-called papa. I place the burden of my brother’s death on their shoulders. Jerome was such a sweet boy. He was my best friend. It was promised to me by my father, but stolen from me by death. No one said that he would come on the train in a coffin. I was just a little girl. The thought of my flesh and blood joining me made my heart mend. Papa said, “Doris I’ll hang those coveralls in the wardrobe on the hook, so you can try them on now and then.”

Well, I remember exactly that. I tried them every day. I religiously tried them. I tried them before work, before breakfast and sometimes before bed. I needed to know if I had grown. There were times when I would get up in the middle of the night and take the coveralls from the pantry. I would carefully place the legs and torso of the coveralls under the covers. I would then put the collar on the pillow next to it. This made me feel closer to Jerry. It sounds silly I know, but it made me feel closer to Jerry. Sometimes I would talk to the coveralls. Before morning I would run downstairs and hang the coveralls in their proper place in the pantry. When I think back on this time, I’m sure Papa knew exactly what I was doing. Although he never said a word.

December 5, 1943 was the day the coveralls were suitable. The sun was warming the house and the smell of fresh bread was coming in from the kitchen. The murmur of voices echoed through the halls. The snow capped mountains were one of grandeur. The majesty of the mountains stood out clearly in Paradise Valley. It was as if they too were celebrating this wonderful day. Everything seemed perfect down to the fresh sheets in the guest room. The toys I had collected for Jerry were carefully placed in their rightful spots near the rocking chair in the corner under the window. I put a pepper stick that papa had bought me from the five-and-dime on Jerry’s pillow. This was definitely a good day! I was excited! Jerome was coming home. Jerome was coming home! The prospect of it coming out of me freaked me out. I was driving mom and dad crazy with questions and what ifs.

December 8, 1943 marked the day Jerome would be home. This was one of the most important days of my life. I wanted to remember it, so I asked Papa what date it was. After I told on December 8, 1943, I went up the stairs as fast as my skinny legs could carry me and I ran into papa and mama’s room. I ran over to the desk and grabbed papa’s pocket knife. I took the pocket knife to my bedroom closet and carved a heart. In the middle of the heart I carved out the letters forever with the r. Of course this took many trips up and down the stairs, because I didn’t know how to spell. After putting the words “forever together” into the heart. I carved the dates December 5, 1943 and December 8, 1943 on the wall near the heart. I wanted to remember those dates. The date the coveralls fit and the date I learned Jerry was coming home. Perfect! I closed the nearest door and returned the pocket knife. My spirit sank. I had achieved a very wonderful thing in just a short time.

“Doris, it’s time to get dressed.” Mama shouted. Mum dressed me in my Sunday best. I looked beautiful. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best. I thought so much. How nice.

When we got to the train station I saw all kinds of relatives. They were also dressed for the night. This is awesome! It’s going to be a great party. After the train came to a complete stop, a feeling of anxiety took over. I was so furious that papa started to scold me, but he stopped himself. Passenger after passenger got off the train. Where is Jerome? Where is he? It was amazing to watch the passengers get off the train. All the women looked so beautiful in their woolen coats with the cold wind blowing their well-groomed hair. But where was Jerome? Where was Jerry? I started to cry. My heart was broken. I looked up at my dad and tears were streaming down his cheek. Why was Papa crying? I am confused. “Where’s Jerry?” I asked Papa. He gently picked me up and held me tightly. “Is everyone off the train? I asked.

“Maybe not.” He answered.

His comforting words stopped my tears. Then the leader walked over to papa and mama asking them to follow him. Papa let me down. He took my hand and held it firmly. Papa usually held my hand gently. This is strange. I thought Jerry must be a special guest. That’s it. Suddenly we came to an abrupt halt. We were stopped in front of a car. There were no passengers. What’s up? I don’t understand. We just stood there. Then two men came to us carrying a small pine box. We followed. What’s up? Where is Jerome? I looked up at papa. His cheeks were red and tears were flowing. Why was Papa crying?

Why was mom crying? Why was everyone so quiet? Why was everyone so sad? Jerome is coming home. Why is everyone looking at the box? Papa looked down at me and then knelt to the ground. His sapphire blue eyes were brimming with water. His Sunday clothes were soaked with moisture from the snow. He grabbed me with both arms and squeezed me. He was holding me so tight that I could feel the warmth of his body. I said, “I love you papa, don’t cry.” He kissed my cheek. I stood at attention and watched the men drop the pine box onto a tarp. The director looked at mom, dad and I with great sadness and said, “May the Lord watch over you and you in your time of need.” He gently put his white hand on my chin, raised his face and looked me in the eye and said, “Be strong my child, God Bless.”

What was going on? Where is Jerome? I don’t understand. Why all the sadness. Everyone’s eyes were on the box. Everyone but me. I was looking for Jerome. People were crying a lot. Then silence. The only sound that could be heard was the whisper of the wind. People were bowing their heads. What’s up? This is similar to the church when the preacher recites a prayer. After what seemed like an eternity. The two men retrieved the box and carried it to a clear pick-up area. With great care they put a tarp over the box. I got in the cab and headed west.

Papa swept me up. Mama held Dorothy and Jim’s hands and we walked towards the car. “Where is Jerome?” I asked.

Papa looked at me with bloodshot eyes and said, “We have Jerome, he has come home.” We got in the car and drove home. Nobody said anything. I didn’t understand. After I came home, mom asked me to go to my room and change my clothes. Without argument I did so. After changing my clothes and still puzzled by what happened I went into the closet where I had carved my heart. I lifted my finger and traced my marks again and again. Do you think I should change the date?”

Later that evening mom and dad came to my room. They sat at the foot of my bed and then scurried their way closer to my side. In silence they sat. Then mom cleared her throat and explained that we would be attending a scene tomorrow. She explained that Jerome would be resting in a box. I still didn’t understand. What about the celebration? Maybe the scene is another word for party? Thinking this could be very nice. I closed my eyes and dreamed of my reconciliation with my brother Jerome.

Morning seems to be coming quickly. I rested well and looked forward to the day. Again everyone wore their favorite clothes. Papa took us to the car. The drive to town seemed like forever. When we arrived in town papa was parked in front of the Franzen Chapel. “Hey, this looks like a church?” I thought. “What’s up?” When I entered the chapel the smell of freshly cut flowers left me gagging. The smell was strong. Hymn music echoed in the halls. Strangers were walking down a narrow, dimly lit hall and entering a seemingly private room. I was wondering what was going on. Maybe someone very important is in that room? Guess who? I wonder if I can go in there? As one person would go in, another person would walk out. They weren’t laughing.

How strange? Attracted by the room I began to question papa. Without asking for an answer, he took my hand and led me to the private room. We stood waiting for mum, Dorothy and Jimmy under the arch. After mom arrived we went into the dimly lit room. Placed in the middle of the room with a beautiful stained glass window behind it was the box. This time it was open. There was something in the box. What was it? As we slowly got closer I could see what looked like someone sleeping. It was Jerome. Why was he sleeping in a box? He was dressed in a blue suit with a white shirt and tie. He looked different. It didn’t look normal. Anger was on his cheeks at them. I didn’t care. I jumped up and kissed him. It was cold. He felt stiff. It was different. Everything seemed different. I tried to wake him up, but he wouldn’t wake up. I kept shouting to wake him up, but he didn’t stop.

That day I had to come to understand that Jerome was not coming home with me to the ranch and that I would never know him. That day came the song, “Dear Liza” papa and I sang with joy like a sad song. And a more appropriate name became, “There is a hole in my heart Jerome, beloved.”

The end.

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