Random Thoughts

Effigy: A lesson in love and retribution

... unless he needed the oil changed in his new Thunderbird.

from Regina Merrill

As I can recall, it was the fall of 1983. Mom had died that spring and the family missed her terribly.

I had just begun working for a new company in that fall. It was a secretarial job for both sales office and factory. Being on the phones wasn’t exactly exciting, for there was only one switchboard. The others in the office could answer the phones, but most of it would go through little old me, ten lines and fifty extensions. Oh, I must not forget the intercom.

Now that the boys were all in high school was an extra bonus. They could all reach me if needed. The job was less than a mile from home and a mile from school in the other direction.

During the previous winter, I had brushed up on transcription, little knowing that I would be at the mercy of six sales people, six managers, the CEO, the vice president and chief financial officer. Now the Apple computer comes on the scene. Oh, well, I had to transcribe all those letters. Another electronic thing to foul me up. Some days, I wished for the electricity to blow all the fuses. That wouldn’t work, as there were two electrical engineers in the factory.

The crew I worked with were all ages and pleasant. Thank goodness, they were very helpful because my computer skills were zil. Typing, shorthand and transcription, I knew. A switchboard was hell on wheels. The Apple computer and I had to battle it out, but we learned to work together. An Apple a day didn’t keep my headaches away.

Trying to be cheerful and thankful that I had work, helped me to smile. I was very busy learning new things.

I had gotten a divorce from my husband after 22 years of marriage. Another great strain was taken off the family’s shoulders. Our lives at home were so much more relaxed.

My daughter came home from college for the summer and worked toward her next semester’s tuition. She was getting high grades and was given several scholarships by the school, state and a local doctor. My oldest son worked as an apprentice carpenter and helped with home expenses. The older two looked out for the younger two when I wasn’t at home. Our lives were becoming more normalized.

There were always extra kids for supper. Plus, out in the yard, during the day and evening, someone always had a bike or a car to be repaired.

I had to lay down rules. NO under age drinking. NO boys and girls in the house when the older kids or myself were not present. NO swearing and NO more than two NON-WORKING cars in the yard.

After making a show of how much he wanted to be with the kids, their father wasn’t heard from unless he needed the oil changed in his new Thunderbird.

We passed through the summer into fall. It was a spectacular, colorful season this year and the days stayed light until after I came home from work.

As I turned into the driveway, there it was, hanging from the second floor gutter, between the windows of the upstairs bedrooms. Dressed in a flannel shirt, old workpants and shoes. It looked like maybe a straw hat on its head, all stuffed and funny looking. Did they really feel that badly toward their father? I knew he never even tried to fake any love or caring for them. But, somewhere there had to be some love in him that they recognized.

Stepping away from the car, I realized someone had come up behind me. It was Tom, one of the neighbors, who cared a lot for my kids. He had crossed the street and was now standing beside me. He had recently gone back to the university and received his doctorate in psychology. He said, “I guess we both know who that effigy stands for.”

January 4, 2008

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