Bronco and I watched the black and white cartoon characters dart back and forth across the screen. Dad had been saving money to buy our first television set, but it was bought without his presence.
The front door was open, and the warmth of the sun shone through the screen door, causing shadowy designs on the hardwood floor. Uncle Don was sitting in the straight chair, and Grandma Underwood sat on the couch. She appeared exhausted from the last four days.
Mom entered the living room. She was void of makeup, and her usually well kept hair hung limp and lifeless. Her grief and loss of weight make her look older then her twenty-nine years.
“Come and sit down, Sis,” Uncle Don said, motioning to the gold chair. It was the first time in days that there was an empty chair. The house was quiet and void of relatives and friends. They had returned to their own lives, but we were still here with our loss.
“I just can’t believe it, Don,” Mom said sadly, as new tears came into her already red-rimmed eyes, “What will I do with out him?”
“It will be hard Sis, but you will make it,” Don consoled.
I moved from the floor, in front of the television set, and sat next to Grandma.
“Why did it have to be Slim?” Mom asked.
“I don’t know, Wanda,” Don answered.
“Slim was such a good man,” Mom said wistfully.
“Yes, he was; but Sis be careful and don’t put Slim on a pedestal that Bronco won’t be able to live up to,” her brother advised.
Their voices faded, as I became absorbed in my thoughts. Uncle Don’s last words surfaced something that I had been stuffing inside of me. Why did he only mention Bronco and not me? Normally, I probably would have reasoned that it was because Bronco was a boy, and boys follow their father’s footsteps; but during the last few days, amid conversations, I had heard Dad referred to as “Bronco’s dad.”
Grownups talked past me, not expecting me to hear because I was a child. They didn’t realize that I was listening and deciphering everything that was said. No one knew the heartache I carried, and that I was trying desperately to figure out where I fit in the maze around me. I was a child. An active, living sponge, soaking up words, actions and impressions. When I wasn’t mentioned in the course of a conversation, where I knew my name belonged, it bothered me. Why didn’t they say “Bronco and Gloria’s dad?”
In slow motion my mind fed me the answers: Kenneth...Bolding...Williams...adopted. As gently as possible, my subconscious reminded my conscious that Dad was not my real father. With that, came the realization that life-long friends and relatives knew it too. They knew I was “Lucky’s child.”
I snuggled up to Grandma.
“Are you alright, honey?”
“I’m fine, grandma,” I said, but inside I didn’t feel special, and insecurity was building a stronghold.