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LEFT ALONE

IS IT ABANDONMENT…IS IT SAFE?

                         1955

         
          “Gloria, I want you to take care of Bronco this weekend.  Deryl has a truck run to Colorado, and I am going with him,” Mom announced one afternoon when I got home from school.
          My heart began to beat faster, “But...but.. Mom,” I stammered.
          “You don’t need to be afraid.  I have confidence in you.  You are a big girl now,” Mom persuaded.
           I thought back to the previous summer.  Mom, Bronco and I had driven to Colorado to meet Deryl between his truck deliveries.  We were staying in a motel that had an attached restaurant.
          “Gloria, I want to go with Deryl on his next run,” Mom had said, “You can take care of Bronco.  We already have the room in the motel.  I will leave you money for supper and breakfast, so you can eat at the restaurant.”
          “But Mom, we don’t know anyone in this town!” I argued, “I’m afraid for Bronco and I to stay overnight in the motel...alone.”
          Mom hadn’t insisted, even though I knew she was disappointed and unhappy with me. Now, I was faced with the same request and I felt just the same as I had then, even though we would be left at home and not a motel.
          “If it’ll make you feel any better, you can ask one of your friends to spend the night with you.  We’ll be gone Saturday and will be back late Sunday afternoon.”
          The following Saturday night, after Bronco was asleep, my friend and I laid in bed talking about school and the boys in our class.  My mind kept wandering.  I had an uneasy sadness. Part of me wanted to believe that my mother would never do anything to put her children at risk.  But my gut instincts told me that we were too young to be left alone.  I couldn’t understand how Mom could leave Bronco and me.  And, for some reason it bothered me more that she could leave my brother.
          Before Bronco was born, when I was only four, I could remember Mom telling me, “This baby will be your baby too!”  When my brother was born I was five years old.  I helped Mom change his diapers, and tried to help take care of him.  When he was a little older I would hold him while we traveled in the car.
          “Isn’t he too heavy for you Gloria,” Mom would say, as she smiled back at me from the front seat, “Don’t you want to put him down?”
          “No, I want to hold him,” I would answer.
          It was almost as if Bronco was “my baby too.” (Little did I know that over the following years Mom would increase my responsibility toward Bronco as our family became more and more dysfunctional.)
          On this Saturday night, when Bronco was seven and I was twelve, my feelings were ones of sadness and abandonment.  And this was only a foretaste of what we would experience in the coming years.     
 The responsibility would weigh me down.

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