I was wondering what happened to my brother when I left him back there in the parlor with that family. I had thought that maybe they did take him instead, but that never happened. From what Sister Lockhart told me, after a brief conversation the family had left, but were coming back the following weekend to meet me again. I remember her saying how happy she was for me and that I should be too that another family wanted to take me into their home for a visit.
I had asked her if my brother was coming with me and I remember her saying he wasn’t but my youngest brother was. Well, I was kind of relieved that someone was, but why him? He’s just three years old. I would rather have my brother who was with me. He’s a year younger and we saw each other practically every day. But the next weekend was days away, so I didn’t put any more thought into that family for the rest of the week.
As each day passed, I realized that life at St. Michael’s wasn’t so bad after all. I just got used to it I guess. I didn’t think much of my home on 17th St anymore. If I did, it was when my mother or my sister would visit us on Sundays. But that soon faded by the time they got on the city bus and headed back to New York City. My brothers and sister were all here with me, and I got to see them as much as time allowed, so I was just fine living at the orphanage.
It was our home, and we made the best of it. A week went by, and here I was once again putting on my Sunday clothes on a Saturday. My Sunday clothes consisted of dress pants, a shirt, a clip on tie and my black shoes. This is what we wore on Sundays going to church, which was the next building over from our dorm. When mass was over, we would go back and change into our play clothes and hang around inside the visiting hall or play outside by the big gazebo we called the “Summer House” until our parents arrived.
There were times we would be swinging on the swings and see our mother walk up the driveway with bags in her hand and we would run up to her all excited hugging and kissing her, then go through the bags looking for our orange juice. We would sit inside the Summer House and share with my mother what we had done since the last visit. Well, that wasn’t happening this weekend.
I was getting ready to see this family again. I didn’t want to go downstairs at first, but my counselor Mr. Jack had a way of talking to me that changed my mind. So there I was walking down the steps and through the hallway as I did just days before. I entered through the door that lead to the parlor where I met the girl with the big smile. There they were, all five of them sitting there on the couch waiting to meet me with two nuns and my youngest brother with them.
Mr. Jack went over to talk with the family as I just stood there looking out the window. Then suddenly, I saw a nun with a suitcase walk over to me. She said she had packed some extra clothes for me and my brother and our tooth brushes. I was confused. They told me that I was only going to their home to visit and then come back, but here I am holding a suitcase with our clothes inside them.
NO WAY! I was not going now. I started crying and screaming that I didn’t want to go. I remember those words. “I don’t want to go now, I don’t want to go now!” I was begging Mr. Jack for him not to let them take me.I grabbed his leg and cried so hard and so loud my head was vibrating. He took me in the hallway, and calmed me down as he explained to me that it was just for the weekend, and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to go with them again.
He promised me that everything would be just fine once I gave them a chance. Now, Mr. Jack was about in his early thirties. He was tall with short black hair and always played with us when we asked him to. He had a deep voice but it wasn’t too deep to be scared of. I trusted Mr. Jack, so there was no reason to think he would start lying to me now. I stopped crying as he made his silly faces to get me to laugh, which I did.
He gave me a hug and patted me on the top of my head and told me to have fun and that he would be waiting for me Sunday when I came back. We walked back to the parlor where he told them that everything was just fine and I was going with them. He leaned over to me and said ” This is the Garrison family and they are very nice people, so you be good and I will see you back here on Sunday”.
So there I was, walking out of the main building with the brown suitcase in my hand and my little brother walking ahead of me totally clueless about what was happening. We all walked down the sidewalk that led to the parking lot. Mr. Garrison opened up the trunk to put my suitcase in and walked over to open the passenger side door and pulled the seat forward so I could get inside.
I sat in the middle with the tall boy to my left and his sister Linda with the long hair to my right. My brother sat in the front with their younger sister Sandy as we drove out of the parking lot and on our way to their home. I didn’t want to look at anyone, so I just kept my head leaning to my left facing the back seat and said nothing. Linda then asked her father to turn on the radio so we all could hear music.
The song that was playing was very familiar, and I remember hearing it a few times on the radio in our kitchen at St. Michael’s where we had our lunches, or just playing in the playroom in the background. I heard it enough times growing up… but to this day, I still don’t know the words to this song but it was playing on the radio…The Sounds of Silence.