Now where flowers bloom, once stood my father, tall and strong. He was a good man. Did whatever he had to do just to make sure we would eat at the end of the day. And if we went more than one day without food, he’d buss his ass to make sure we could eat twice as much the day after. Scrubbing floors, fixing cars, assembling furniture…man I believed that if there was something needed to be done, pops could do it. Pops would do it. And that was the old goat’s downfall. I remember like it was yesterday- I was ten. Mom had been working as a bus driver by them because all the men in our neighborhood had enlisted. Mom came home about six o’clock that evening. She said she was feeling sick and told old Mrs. Gruber to go home. She was a pretty nice old lady. Mom asked me to go to the fridge and pour her a glass of lemonade. That’s when I heard the scream. That’s when she read the stupid letter. I remember hearing a thud sound and running to the living room to see my mother passed out on the floor, her beige pantyhose with a run a mile long wrapped around her limp legs and her hair that was usually pinned in place loose. I though she was dead so I ran to Mrs. Gruber’s apartment and banged the door down. When she answered, I told her that Mom was hurt and needed help. The little on lady ran as fast as her small feet could carry her down the hall, saw momma laying down and said “Oh dear.” She told me to get a wet rag and then hand it to her. She had momma’s head on her lap at this point and I brought the moist cloth to her. She was wiping momma’s face and I saw the letter in her hand. I read it from where I was standing:
“To the family of James Earl Carter,
We regret to inform you that Mr. James E. Carter was severely wounded while fighting for his country on January 14th of the year and died on his way being transported to a military hospital center outside of France…”
They wrote something about him being buried at 1400 hours a couple days later with a proper soldier’s burial. When I read that, I swore I felt a searing hatred running through me. I couldn’t understand. Pops was ‘Mr. Fixit’, he could do anything. I felt my heart sink. I knew why momma had fainted. I felt that same weight drop in my chest. My breath had escaped me. I hated the war. I hated that Pops was so giving. For a while, I hated the Jews too. Did they care that a man was sent to war to help liberate them? I started thinking, that they were just as racist as the racist bastards in the states. They took my daddy from me. I wanted to cuss but momma didn’t like us knowing swear words.
And now, where flowers bloom, lays a man I once called father. Years later, I hold my little sister’s hand crying for the man she never got the chance to meet. The man who went to war, and couldn’t fix it.